Oil Crop Production (Agronomy V)

Course CodeBAG312
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Arable Farming 

Plants contain oils, but some are more useful than others. Over 200 different plant species are grown for oil extraction; some on a larger scale than others. The quality and quantity of oils that can be extracted from plants varies, as does the characteristics that makes the oil useful, .Some plants produce edible oils that are valued as foods for either people or animals. Other plants produce oils which are important ingredients in manufacturing all sorts of products from cosmetics and pharmaceuticals through to biofuels.

This course aims to provide a sound overview of plant oil production from Canola, Rape and Olive oil, to biofuels, herbal oils and more.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature & scope of oil crops
    • What are plant oils?
    • Essential oils
    • Plant oil crops & uses
    • Vegetable oil uses
    • Essential oil uses
    • Economic value of oil crops
    • What crops can be grown where?
  2. Oil Extraction
    • Introduction
    • Oil seed processing
    • Mechanical processing
    • Chemical processing
    • Other processing methods
    • Distillation
    • Simple distillation
    • Steam distillation
    • Fractional distillation
    • Vacuum distillation
    • Molecular distillation
    • Extractive distillation
    • Membrane distillation
  3. Canola and Rapeseed
    • Characteristics of canola
    • World production
    • Growing canola
    • Using seed
    • Soil types
    • Soil preparation
    • Sowing
    • Growth stages
    • Environmental stresses
    • Nutrition
    • Irrigation management
    • Weeds
    • Pest control
    • Diseases
    • Harvesting
    • Storage
    • Processing
  4. Olive Oil
    • Characteristics of olive oil
    • World production
    • Growing olives
    • Using seedlings
    • Soil types
    • Soil preparation
    • Planting
    • Pruning
    • Growing conditions
    • Varieties
    • Nutrition
    • Irrigation management
    • Weeds
    • Pest control
    • Diseases
    • Organic production
    • Harvesting
    • Storage
    • Processing
  5. Other Edible Oils
    • Growing conditions
    • Organic matter
    • Soil texture
    • Subsoil PH
    • Soil water available to plants
    • Slope of the topography
    • Natural soil drainage
    • Maintaining good soil structure
    • Growing edible oil crops
    • Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
    • Flax/linseed (Linum usitatissimum)
    • Soybean/soya bean (Glycine max)
    • Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea)
  6. Herbal and pharmaceutical oils
    • Introduction
    • Pros and cons of herbal medicine & nutraceuticals
    • Essential oils
    • General guidelines for growing herbs for essential oils
    • Planting
    • Agronomy
    • Improved herbs and essential oils
    • Growing select crops for cosmetic or pharmaceutical oils
    • Avocado (Persea americana)
    • Mint (Mentha arvensis)
    • Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
    • Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)
    • Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis)
  7. Biofuel and other Industrial Oils
    • Biofuel production
    • Vegetable oils and genetic modification
    • Extraction of oils from plants
    • GMO crops
    • Oleic acid
    • Oil palm trees
    • Novel fatty acids
    • Chemical and biotechnological transformations of basic industrial oils
    • Key targets for future industrial oil crops
    • Unusual fatty acids
    • Industrial importance
    • Growing select crops for biofuels and other industrial uses
    • Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
    • Castor bean (Ricinus communis)
    • Camelina (Camelina sativa)
    • Crambe (Crambe abyssinica)
  8. Issues, Risks, Optimising success
    • Successful farming
    • Capital
    • Profitability
    • Risk management
    • Succession
    • Entrepreneurial skills of farmers
    • Production management
    • Developing a farming business plan
    • Goals and mission
    • Asset planning
    • Land
    • Irrigation water
    • Livestock
    • Farm management
    • Labour and machinery
    • Capital
    • Soil testing
    • Produce selection
    • Integrated pest management
    • Integrated weed management
    • Grain storage
  9. Product development and management
    • Oilseed production and extraction yields
    • Oil fatty acid composition and biodiesel
    • Oil extraction and biodiesel processing
    • On-farm oil seed processing

Oil Crops May Have More Potential than You Realise

This Course Can Expand Your Knowledge and awareness of what Oil Crops Can be Used for.

Edible oils include both major oils, as well as nut, fruit and seed oils. Major oils account for a large proportion of oil crop production around the globe. In particular soybean, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, canola (a variety of rapeseed), sesame, safflower, olive, coconut, palm, peanut, and cottonseed.  Besides their use in cooking, many of these oils have other uses. For example, they can all be used as biofuels. Olive oil is also used in soaps, cosmetics, and oil lamps. Cottonseed oil and canola oil both have industrial uses. So too does coconut oil which may be used in soaps, lubricants, and herbicides.    

Other significant industrial uses for plant oils include those used as drying oils, in insecticides, and those used for fuels. Drying oils dry and harden when they are exposed to oxygen in air. This is due to polymerisation (polymer chains react with oxygen to form links) rather than through water evaporating out. Since they are easily oxidised, few of them are suitable for cooking with though many of them are edible. They are widely used as additives in oil paints and varnishes, though they are not as widely used as they once were due to increasing use of alkyd resins to replace oils in paints. Linseed is one the of the most widely used drying oils, though poppyseed oil has similar qualities. Tung oil and Vernonia oil are other examples.
Various plant oils have been utilised in insecticides, with neem oil being the most widely used because of its high sulphur content which is toxic to many insects. It is derived from the tree, Azadirachta indica, which originates from India where it is manufactured by either cold pressing the seed kernel or using solvent extraction. Neem oil is a permissible insecticide in organic farming.

Vegetable oils can be used as an alternative to diesel in diesel engines as well as for burning as fuel in lamps. Here, the vegetable oils are referred to as pure plant oils (PPOs) or straight vegetable oils (SVOs). Engines may need to be modified to do this. However, biodiesel is more commonly used for this purpose. 

Many crops can be used to produce oils which can be used to create biodiesel. Edible oil crops for biofuels include soybeans, sunflowers, corn, and peanut – in fact most of the main edible oils can also be used for biodiesel. They can also be produced from cottonseed, false flax oil (Camelina sativa) and inedible oils like jojoba oil (Simmondsia chinensis), petroleum nut oil (Pittosporum resiniferum), copaiba resin (Copaifera spp.), and jatropha oil (Jatropha curcas). 


For both Farmers and Others

This course was developed not only for farmers, aspiring farmers and farm workers; but also to benefit anyone simply wanting a broader, deeper knowledge of oil producing plants. That may include someone operating a herb farm or a cottage business that manufactures products which use plant oils. It could benefit anyone who works in or around the production and use of plant oils, providing services or goods to growers, manufacturing products from the farm produce,, consulting, teaching or researching plant oils - or anyone who simply has a passion to learn more about this subject.

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