Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Brandt: Order higher blends of biodiesel, ethanol for use on the farm

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 05/13/2013 2:37 PM

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EYOTA, Minn — It all started last fall when Dan Brandt called his fuel supplier to see if he could get a higher blend of biodiesel delivered in the spring.

His supplier told him he was the only one asking for it, so it wouldn't work for him to deliver a higher blend to Brandt's Eyota farm.

Brandt wondered whose job it was to turn that around, saying he looked in the mirror and realized pretty quickly whose job it was.

Brandt, who is president of the Olmsted/South Wabasha County Corn and Soybean Growers, discussed his idea of encouraging more biodiesel use with directors and members of the group at their annual meeting. They liked it and encouraged him to proceed.

He did a little research. He spent an afternoon volunteering at the Twin Cities Auto Show on behalf of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, where he serves as a board member. One person there said he'd heard that people aren't happy with biodiesel. At the Agri News Farm Show, he discovered how much people don't know about biodiesel.

In Minnesota, legislation requires a 5 percent biodiesel blend. There were problems in the winter after the law took effect in 2009 — mostly clogged filters — but those problems have been corrected, Brandt said.

Unfortunately, the problems are all many people remember about biodiesel.

"Our problems are in the rear view mirror, and we're ready to go to 20 percent now," Brandt said.

He's asking farmers to fill up their farm tanks this spring with higher blends of biodiesel and ethanol. A Twin Cities fire department runs on B20 year-round, he said.

For the farm, it's best to run biodiesel from April through October to avoid freezing temperatures and fuel that gels.

He talked to three fuel suppliers who said they would be ready to supply E20 or E30 or B20 to farms.

"And that's what farmers don't know," Brandt said.

Call your fuel dealer, he said, and ask them to bring a higher blend. Prices should be comparable.

"Nobody's asking for it (higher blends), and that's what we have to change," Brandt said.

Farmers can ask their implement dealers about the use of biodiesel in tractors -- most equipment companies support the use of biodiesel blends.

The majority of agricultural manufacturers design their engines to use at least B20, some even allow the use of higher blends, said Kaleb Little, communications and member specialist with the National Biodiesel Board. New Holland engines can run B100, Little said.

Manufacturers including Case IH, John Deere, Caterpillar and Kubota all allow the use of B20, Little said.