A partnership between UW–Platteville and UW Extension, utilizing the benefits of sunflowers, may have a bright future.
On June 4, 6.7 acres of sunflower seeds were planted in a field west of the Platteville Menards store.
A group of approximately 50 curious onlookers attended a field day Aug. 26 to learn more about the Sunflower Solution project and to check the status of the sunflowers.
The university plans to serve one-third of its oil harvest in campus dining services, and two-thirds in retail. Products should be available to the public this winter.
University officials hope to increase production in 2014 and explore production of other oil seeds for biofuel and food.
“We are looking for potential investors and land to expand this project next year,” said Amy Seeboth, sustainability coordinator at UW–Platteville.
Sunflower oil has a mild flavor and can be used in place of most other cooking oils for sauté, baking or salad dressing. Higher in monounsaturated fats than most oils, sunflower oil is comparable to olive oil in health benefits. When the oil is pressed out of the seed using cold pressing technology, the remaining “meal” makes a high protein feed for dairy that doesn’t require roasting.
UW–Platteville Pioneer Farm officials will be purchasing the press meal and feeding it to their cattle as a high protein feed.
Sunflowers can be planted, managed and harvested using the same equipment as corn.
UW–Platteville began the exploration of this project through a joint effort of its Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems major and the office of sustainability.
This project is a community effort: use of the acreage is donated by the Platteville Development Group, advising is provided by UW–Extension, and planting and harvesting is done by Wilson Family Organic Farms in Cuba City. Press and mechanical advising is provided by Circle Energy and Solarmass LLC.
Additional information about the project can be found at uwplatt.edu/sunflowers.