Transitioning to On-farm Biodiesel: A Farmer’s Perspective

by Brynna Sentel
5 minute read
A sticker that says biodiesel inside the fuel tank door for a vehicle.

For Illinois soybean farmer Stan Blunier, transitioning from diesel to biodiesel on his farm was the ultimate way to support local, while bolstering his own farm at the same time.

“It creates a demand for something I’m producing,” he says simply.

Traditional Farm Diesel vs. Biodiesel

Cleaner burning than traditional diesel, biodiesel made from soy contains fewer particulates and produces less emissions as well. “Today’s biodiesel is a reliable, high-performance fuel that works in any diesel engine without modifications. Biodiesel reduces engine wear and contains higher cetane for enhanced power. Fewer carbon dioxide emissions and cleaner burning – the EPA likes that,” he says. “Plus the American Lung Association gave it their approval.”

The American Lung Association recognizes biodiesel as a Clean Air Choice® drivers can make to reduce their impact on the environment and human health. The program promotes alternative renewable fuels such as biodiesel and E85, partnering with fleets to replace legacy diesel engines, and by supporting the clean-air advantages of electric and hybrid vehicles.

In addition, Stan likes the higher lubricity biodiesel provides for his equipment engines. “It actually cleans the engine while using it, rather than gumming it up,” he says. That, in turn, translates to less engine wear, another positive for his bottom line. “I also like the idea of not relying on foreign oil and using something that’s produced here in the U.S.,” Stan adds.

Using Biodiesel on Blunier’s Farm

Fortunately for Stan, the transition from diesel made with foreign oil to American-made biodiesel wasn’t much of a transition at all, he explains.

A supporter of alternative fuels from the early days, Stan was first involved with an ethanol plant, helping build it and get it online. “That made me aware of using fuel that uses crops farmers raise,” he says. A few years later when tax benefits for using alternative fuels were announced, Stan decided it was the right time to fully make his move. “I made the switch to all biodiesel, and it was seamless,” he says.

Blunier Farms has been using solely biodiesel on their Forrest farm for years now, and they’ve changed little about how they farm and operate since switching from traditional diesel.

Production includes nearly 1,300 acres of soybeans and corn, plus about 13,000 head of hogs. “I’m definitely saving on taxes; otherwise the cost is the same as any other diesel,” he says. “We didn’t change anything; we even put it in the same tanks we used for diesel.”

Blunier Busts Biodiesel Myths

“A lot of myths are out there on biodiesel,” Stan says, “like that you’ll have problems with engine seals, but we didn’t have that with soy diesel. We’ve used it long enough now that we’re sure we aren’t going to have any problems.”

According to Blunier, another myth has to do with oil content. “Because some biodiesel uses restaurant grease, people said the oil would go into it, but the biodiesel is refined so well that that’s a myth,” Stan explains. “It actually has more efficiency than others.”

Biodiesel also performs the same in winter has traditional diesel. “We use a winter additive, just like you would with regular diesel,” Stan says. Other than that, no changes.

He recommends farmers give serious consideration to using biodiesel, with all of its benefits. “It’s something that farmers should think about,” he encourages. “We’re using a product we create. We’re fueling the economy and we’re doing good for the environment. If we continue to use the products we’re creating right here at home, we can be assured there will always be demand for it.”

Leave a Comment