Ask the agronomist: New testing capabilities

Forward thinking Servi-Tech strives to keep abreast of our customers’ testing needs and continually adds ways to meet them.

Verifying glycerin purity and methanol contamination were identified as beneficial analyses to assess byproducts from biodiesel creation for inclusion in cattle diets.

Biodiesel production has increased and will continue to increase as the United States works to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. Biodiesel has been shown to burn cleaner and more efficiently as compared to petroleum-based diesel. Blending it into the nation’s fuel supply will reduce emission of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

During biodiesel creation, vegetable oils (from soybeans, cottonseed, and/or canola), animal fats such as tallow, or a combination of both, are processed separating fatty acids from glycerin, also called glycerol. The fatty acids are the portion that is used for fuel.

Servi-Tech now has the capability to use High Performance Liquid Chromatography instrumentation to accurately measure glycerin.

Prior to feeding glycerin, contaminant levels and impurities should be known to ensure the product is safe to feed to livestock. The methanol concentration of crude glycerin is of particular concern and is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies if intended for livestock consumption.

Servi-Tech has added gas chromatography instrumentation for the specific purpose of measuring methanol in crude glycerin.

To date, glycerin has been effectively added as an ingredient in liquid supplements. The sweet liquid can also be used as a conditioning agent to improve palatability of dry diets. Glycerin can effectively control dust and reduce buildup of fines in bunks by preventing separation of ingredients, particularly in total mixed rations containing concentrates with small particle sizes. As the biodiesel industry expands and availability of glycerin increases, there is great potential to include glycerin in livestock diets as a replacement for corn grain.

Editor’s note: Robin Cox is key feed accounts specialist at Servi-Tech, based in Dodge City, Kansas. To send a question to Ask the Agronomist, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Ask the Agronomist” or tweet @ServiTechInc or @HighPlainsJrnl with the hashtag #AsktheAgronomist.