LIFE12 ENV/ES/000590

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Contact person: Aser GARCÍA
Tel: +34945121313
Email: aserg@neiker.eus

Project description:


The use of fossil fuels in agricultural production accounts for 8% of the greenhouse emissions from agriculture. On the other hand, livestock are the main source of anthropogenic methane emissions. Among domesticated livestock, ruminant animals produce significant amounts of methane as part of their normal digestive processes. The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40% to global agricultural output.

The challenge, therefore, is to develop food systems that emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions, enjoy a secure energy supply and respond to fluctuating energy prices, while at the same time support food security and sustainable development. In this context, the project proposed a "landscape approach" that links agricultural production and natural resource management with a reduction in greenhouse gas production, through improved product supply chains.


The LIFE SEED CAPITAL project aimed at demonstrating a way to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector. To do so, the project produced biofuel usingd vegetable rapeseed oil blended with diesel. To keep the conflict between biofuel production and human food to a minimum, the vegetal oil was made 100% from rapeseed. The co-products obtained from producing oil were be valorised as high-quality feed for cattle and sheep.

Vegetable oil was an interesting candidate among biofuels because the production could be done on the farm itself (from the field into the tank). Oil would be extracted mechanically and forced out of the seed, producing a co-product of solid meal that is rich in fat. This solid residue could be used in formulating concentrates used in ruminant feeds. This approach would reduce methane emissions produced during the fermentation process.


The LIFE SEED CAPITAL project successfully demonstrated a cost-effective method to produce a biofuel for the agricultural sector, which saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The process of extracting rapeseed oil also produced a valuable co-product of meal (rapeseed cake) that was used in feeds for cattle and sheep. As production can take place on the farm itself, the project offers EU farmers financial savings with less dependency on protein and fossil fuel imports.

The project achieved all its expected objectives. Rapeseed was grown as part of an alternative three-year crop rotation scheme (rapeseed-cereal-cereal instead of the conventional cereal-cereal-cereal). In this scenario, 100% of the produced rapeseed was processed. Rapeseed oil was extracted mechanically and blended with diesel to use as a fuel, while the solid residue, which is high in fat and crude protein, was used for the production of concentrates used in ruminant feeds. This approach also reduced the methane emissions that are produced during the fermentation process in animals.

Data from a whole rotation cycle showed that rotation with rapeseed was beneficial in terms of productivity, economic costs and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, oilseed rape was a favourable choice because all parts can be used, with no waste.

The project defined the optimum mix of oil and diesel, as well as the control parameters for its use as a fuel. Rapeseed oil was successfully blended with diesel up to a rate of 26%. Aside from its environmental qualities, the benefit of blending vegetable oil from the rapeseed production with mineral diesel is that it does not require any engine modifications or the installation of specific tanks, and therefore this new bio-fuel is accessible to more engines.

The use of a blend of rapeseed oil with diesel at about 26% showed a 20% drop in CO2eq emissions, while the use of fodder (animal feed) formulated with rapeseed cake showed a reduction of 8% in the generation of enteric methane, without reducing the yield from the animals, or the quality and acceptability of the milk produced. Blending oil with diesel was shown to lead to possible financial savings of between 16% and 19%. The results also suggested that the use of rapeseed cake can help reduce production costs of stockbreeders by 9%.

On a socio-economic level, the project focused on oil presses that can be owned and operated by farmers and cooperatives. The production can be conducted in decentralised small units without losing cost-effectiveness, and as such enables EU farmers to be more independent from protein and fossil fuel imports. The project also provides new opportunities for small-and-medium-sized enterprises and especially farmers in rural areas, thereby strengthening rural economic structures and social coherence in the EU.

The project is in line with the 2020 Climate and Energy package and can be of interest for other EU policies as the CAP, especially with regards to rural development.

The project and its results raised the interest of many farmers and stakeholders on a regional level, and several strands of action remain open for future development.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Energy - Supply
Climate change Mitigation - GHG reduction in non EU ETS sectors
Industry-Production - Agriculture - Forestry


animal foodstuff‚  Agriculture‚  emission reduction‚  greenhouse gas‚  biofuel

Target EU Legislation

  • Climate Change & Energy efficicency
  • COM(2014)15 - Policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030 (22.01.2014 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Research institution
Description NEIKER is the Basque Institute of Agrarian Research and Development. It is a non-profit body of the Regional Government’s Department of the Environment. It undertakes strategic and applied research in fields including agriculture, livestock and sustainable production systems.
Partners Fundación CETENA, Spain


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/ES/000590
Duration 02-SEP-2013 to 30-SEP -2016
Total budget 1,024,766.00 €
EU contribution 512,382.00 €
Project location País Vasco(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Project web site - 2 Project's Twitter page
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Case study "C-2. Socio-economic monitoring of LIFE SEEDCAPITA ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report "Resultados de caracterización de mezclas aceite-g ...
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Publication: Technical report "C.1-Report on the use of vegetable oil blended wi ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version