August 28, 2012

Palm Oil Yields 10 Times more Oil than Soybeans in Central Brazil

Brazilian researchers have been experimenting with irrigated palm oil production in the cerrado regions of central Brazil for a number of years and early results indicate that the crop could perform even better than anticipated. The research is being conducted by Embrapa (the Brazilian Agricultural Research Service) in conjunction with the Agricultural Development Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture (Seagro).

According to the lead researcher at Embrapa cerrado, Jorge Antonini, irrigated palm oil production in central Brazil could yield 23 tons per hectare, which would result in 5,000 pounds of oil production per hectare. This is ten times more than the 500 liters of oil produced from a hectare of soybeans or sunflowers in the same region. Antonini is the coordinator of Embrapa's irrigated palm oil project which has research plots in the states of Mato Grosso, Piaui, Tocantins, and the Federal District.

The research plots were established six years ago with 146 palm oil trees per hectare. One of the big advantages of palm oil production is that once established, the plantation can continue yielding palm oil for 25 years before the trees need to be replanted.

The oil produced from the plots will be used to produce biodiesel. Currently, 80% of the vegetable oil that is used to produce biodiesel in Brazil is soybean oil and the government is trying to promote alternative oils to substitute for soybean oil. Of all the alternatives that include such things as: tallow, sunflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and nut oil, palm oil probably offers the best alternative.