Safflower proves to be a versatile solution for growers

Go Resources achieve top results with new safflower variety

Agribusiness
John and David Ferriers safflower crop at Birchip in Victoria averaged 1.4 t/ha. Photo: Supplied

John and David Ferriers safflower crop at Birchip in Victoria averaged 1.4 t/ha. Photo: Supplied

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Farmers across the country are benefitting from safflower crops this season.

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A TRADITIONAL oil seed product is proving to be a game changer for industries seeking a sustainable bio-based lubricant.

Industries across the country and the world are exploring new options to move away from harmful palm oils and other petroleum-based oils and safflower is becoming the perfect alternative.

Go Resources is leading the way in the Australian sector by teaming up with the CSIRO to develop a new variety of safflower for use as an engine oil, hydraulic oil and other uses that normally cause the oil to be lost into the environment.

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Go Resources director and consultant David Hudson said the company had trial safflower crops across the country, stretching from Cairns, to NSW's Southern Riverina and into Victoria.

"We're working on a crop called super high oleic safflower, which was released in 2019 and last year was the second commercial year," Mr Hudson said.

"It's based on a technology out of the CSIRO that allows the plant to produce between 91 and 92 per cent oleic acid content.

"Basically, the oil from it is being used for the development of industrial lubricants as a replacement for palm oil and fossil fuel oil."

Mr Hudson said growers across the country had helped "change the image" of the safflower oil industry.

"It has always been known traditionally as a rescue crop for cereals if people have had a wet year, but it has become so much more than that," he said.

"We've been seeing more people use it as part of their winter crop rotation and plant it in May in both high and medium rainfall areas.

"Last year, yields of autumn-sown crops averaged between 1.25 and 1.5 tonnes per hectare, which I think shows how the perception has changed.

"Safflower was a really popular crop before the rise of canola but I think it is certainly making a bit of a comeback now."

Australian Oilseeds Federation chief executive officer Nick Goddard said plenty of producers across the country were taking advantage of favourable weather conditions and planting oil seed crops.

"The guys at Go Resources are certainly helping change the game in terms of safflower," Mr Goddard said.

"However, we are hearing of people right across the country taking advantage of the conditions and planting a variety of crops such as, soy beans, safflower and sun flowers.

"In terms of soy beans, there could be as much as 40 to 50,000 tonnes planted, while it could be possible to see as much as 40,000 tonnes of sun flower oil produced.

"In comparison to canola, which this year alone had 3.5 million to 4.5 million tonnes grown, it isn't a lot, but is certainly one of the best years we've seen for a while."

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