Using project funds from the 2012 South Central Sun Grant Award through USDA-NIFA, Dr. Auld investigates on how to successfully introduce a frost-seeded safflower crop that is well adapted to the Lower Great Plains (LGP) region to ensure sustainable biodiesel production. He stated that cold tolerant safflower (Carthamustinctorius L.) has shown great promise as an economically viable, biodiesel feedstock in the semi arid climates of the LGP. This new class of cold tolerant safflower allows plant growth during the cooler months of early spring which minimizes evapo-transpiration and reduces demand for irrigation water during the hot summer months. He also added, “previous research had shown that safflower oils make a high yielding, premium quality biodiesel feedstock needed in this region”.
Auld’s research will develop elite lines of cold tolerant safflower that are segregating for increased oil content (42-44%). At the end of the agronomic evaluation , they will develop production guidelines (i.e. planting date, irrigation management, fertility and harvesting) necessary for the successful production of frost tolerant safflower in this region. From 2009-2012, our SunGrant Program research showed that at production sites above Interstate 20 (El Paso to Texarkana) winter survival of all existing winter-hardy safflower genotypes was sporadic and limited. Observations made during these trials indicate that level of cold tolerance in the most winter-hardy safflower lines is substantially less than winter canola which can be successfully grown across NM, KS, OK, and Northern TX. Early spring seeding (frost seeding) of the winter hardy safflower produced excellent yields in comparison to conventional spring seed safflower. The Plant Introductions we evaluated segregated for time to flower, oil content, and tolerance to foliar pathogens. Single plant selections with excellent potential adaptation as a frost seeded variety on the Lower Great Plains were made at Lubbock in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
The life-cycle assessment (LCA) of cold tolerant safflower derived biodiesel showed the total energy required to produce a gallon of biodiesel was 22,414 Btu after allocating energy from co-products.
This study is a joint effort between Dr. Auld and Drs. Sangamesh Angadi (New Mexico State University), Calvin Trostle (Texas A&M University), and Jason G. Warren (Oklahoma State University).