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Farmers and Agricultural Professionals

Biodiesel | Environmental Benefits | Demand for Biofuels

There are 13,960,604 acres of farmland in the state of Ohio. That’s more than half of Ohio’s total land area, and the bulk of that farmland is what the DOA calls “prime farmland.” Because soy and corn are our state’s leading crops, and because both of these crops are employed to produce biodiesel for renewable Bioheat® fuel and other uses, Ohio’s agricultural and energy industries share a mutually beneficial relationship.

Benefits of Biodiesel in Farm Equipment

Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning fuel made from 100 percent natural, 100 percent renewable vegetable sources such as soybean, rapeseed, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils. It can also be created from used cooking oil. Non-toxic, biodegradable and free of sulfur, biodiesel dramatically reduces particulate matter emissions and other federally targeted emissions while helping to stabilize greenhouse gases – making it friendlier to the environment.

How can biodiesel benefit Ohio farmers? While its emissions are radically lower, in farm equipment engines biodiesel functions the same as petroleum diesel. Biodiesel can be substituted for diesel with essentially no engine modifications, and maintains the payload capacity and range of diesel. Even low blends of biodiesel like B2 and B5 offer exceptional lubricity, thus slowing engine wear and tear. Manufacturers’ warranties for diesel-burning engines extend to those burning biodiesel. Plus, biodiesel doesn’t need special storage.

You’ll also be glad to know that diesel engines are typically more efficient than gas motors, so you will almost certainly save money on transportation if you switch from a gas vehicle to a biodiesel vehicle.

Biodiesel strengthens Ohio’s and America’s energy security while generating new industry and high-quality jobs.

A 1998 biodiesel lifecycle study, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, concluded biodiesel reduces net CO2 emission by 78 percent compared to petroleum diesel. This is due to biodiesel’s closed carbon cycle. The CO2 released into the atmosphere when biodiesel is burned is recycled.

Petroleum distributors are increasingly making biodiesel available to their customers as they realize that there is demand for the product. Ask your local fuel distributor about carrying it.

Why use biodiesel on the farm? Biodiesel provides an opportunity for farmers to create demand for the crops they grow through on-farm use. Farmers’ commitment to biodiesel is reflected in their $25 million investment in the product through checkoff dollars.

Biodiesel Environmental (and Other) Benefits

Air Quality

  • Reduces emissions of harmful air pollutants such as asthma-causing fine particles, greenhouse gases, and acid-rain-forming sulfur dioxides. 
  • Reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

Waste Minimization

  • When biodiesel is created from byproducts, such as waste cooking oil, waste is diverted from municipal solid waste landfills and sewer systems.

Environmentally Friendly 

  • Biodiesel is non-toxic, renewable and biodegradable.


  • Biodiesel is a renewable resource that can be produced domestically from animal fat, vegetable oil or used cooking oil. This decreases the country’s dependence on imported foreign oil. 
  • The Department of Energy analyzed the full biodiesel life-cycle and found that for every unit of fossil fuel used to produce biodiesel, 3.2 units of energy were gained. By contrast, petroleum diesel’s life-cycle yields only 0.83 units of fuel-produced energy.


  • A biodiesel blender that is registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be eligible for a tax incentive in the amount of $1.00 per gallon of pure biodiesel, agri-biodiesel, or renewable diesel blended with petroleum diesel to produce a mixture containing at least 0.1 percent diesel fuel.

  • The Department of Agriculture and the Congressional Budget Office have stated that biodiesel is the most economical alternative fuel for meeting the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) requirements.

How Ohio Farmers Can Benefit from Demand for Biofuels

With millions of Americans looking for "green" energy sources, biofuels are particularly beneficial to rural economies.

  • To keep the costs of transporting biofuels down, biofuel processing facilities are usually constructed near the site of crop growth. The result is an economic investment in rural economies, resulting in both agricultural and industrial employment.

  • Energy crops, like fast-growing trees and grasses, can be used for biodiesel fuel production. These crops are considered very easy to grow and particularly durable and inexpensive. This provides rural farmers with an opportunity to add variation to their agricultural production that can stabilize farm income and the market. 

  • Biofuels can boost the domestic economy by producing, as opposed to importing, fuels. Producing domestic fuel alternatives would mean that money now going to acquire oil overseas could be invested in local economies. Imagine what that could mean to American economic security, not to mention your farm’s profits.

  • The Ohio EPA’s Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention has published a guide for agricultural professionals and others who might be interested in biodiesel production: Want to Start a Biodiesel Production Operation?

To find out more, talk to your local Bioheat® fuel dealer or visit one of these valuable online resources: