Feedstock: Sunflowers, canola, mustard
Energy Output: Power (for farm machinery)
Services: Oilseed and Grain Grower, Oil milling, Fuel Processing, Feed Supply
Owner: John Williamson
Location: Shaftsbury, Vermont; Bennington County
On the forefront of oilseed crop growing in a northeastern climate, State Line Biofuels is Vermont’s first on-farm facility making biodiesel made from oilseed crops grown on-site and from neighboring farms.
The Williamson family has owned State Line Farm in southwest Vermont alongside the border of New York since 1936. For many years, State Line was run as a traditional dairy farm, but falling milk prices caused them to sell the herd and look towards diversifying the farm’s operations.
John and his family currently produce maple syrup, honey, sorghum syrup and hay for sale in local markets. Since 2004, State Line Farm has also experimented with sunflower, canola, mustard, and flax varieties in an effort to fuel their farm with biodiesel.
Between 2006-2008, State Line Biofuels developed 400-gallon per batch biodiesel processor, with a 250,000-gallon per year production capacity if operating 8 hours per day, five days per week, with 20 percent downtime. A dedicated building was constructed and most of the reactor system was designed and built by John from salvaged stainless steel tanks and pipe previously used for milking, for a total capital cost of ~$135,000. This facility provides biodiesel and livestock meal for use at State Line Farm, as well as contract oilseed pressing and biodiesel production for neighboring farms. The production capacity of State Line Biofuels was developed to serve the fuel and feed needs of farms within a 30-mile radius, with enough capacity to process ~3,000 acres of oilseed crops.
State Line Biofuels is also an important educational demonstration center for developing and teaching best practices for small-scale oilseed crop and biodiesel production in the Northeast. State Line has hosted several “field days” in the summer months, with 75-100attendees, while over the course of a year John and his partner Melissa provide tours of their biodiesel facility to 30-50 individual farmers. State Line Biofuels has enjoyed a lot of media attention over the past few years and has become the ‘go to’ place for farmers in New England interested in seeing and learning about innovative farm-scale production techniques. This farmer-to-farmer peer learning process is critical to the further development of on-farm biodiesel production in Vermont and New England.
In 2005-2007, State Line Biofuels was awarded a $23,200 grant from the VSJF Bioenergy Initiative and provided $19,000 in cost share to hire Callahan Engineering, PLLC to facilitate and document a hazards review and Failure Modes And Effects Analysis (FMEA) of the State Line processing system. For the 2008-2010 growing seasons, State Line was awarded $30,000 to investigate new crops and varieties of biofuel related crops, including a focus on sugar crops which hold promise for production of ethanol as a catalyst component for biodiesel production. State Line also sought to improve the ability to receive, clean, dry, store and press grain to oil by adding grain measurement components, additional grain storage, and an oil press upgrade. For 2011-2013, State Line was awarded $25,000 to provide new oilseed conveyance, drying, cleaning and storage infrastructure to support ongoing research and development of oilseeds being grown for fuel, feed and food in Southwestern Vermont.