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Brassica Napus

Updated on April 12, 2011

The oilseed rape (Brassica napus or Brassica napus oleifera) (also, but rare, rape) is a plant, the flower bright yellow (or white depending on variety), belonging to the Brassicaceae. Some botanists include the inside of the Brassica campestris B. napus.It is a herbal plant.

Cultivation

Grown in northern climates (especially in Canada, USA, UK, Germany, France and Holland) as animal feed, food and a source of vegetable oil as fuel in the biodiesel. Oilseed rape is one of the main crops in India, grown on 13% of agricultural land.

According to the Department of Agriculture of the United States in 2000, the rape was the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world (after soybean and palm) and the second world source of protein, although it reached only a fifth of the soybean production. In Europe, rapeseed is grown primarily as fodder (because of the high content of lipid and medium protein), and is the European choice of priority to avoid dependence on imports of American soybean seeds genetically modified soya.

Uses

Rapeseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant. The oil is used in power after it is refined and blended with other oils since the origin has the taste and smell unpleasant. Rapeseed oil contains erucic acid, toxic to humans but used as a food additive in small doses.

Canola is a specific variety of the rapeseed low in erucic acid which was developed in Canada: his name is made from Canadian oil low acid (Canadian oil low acid).

The seed is the part of the value of that crop is also grown as a winter cover crop. It provides a good ground cover in winter, and limits nitrogen run-off. The plant is mixed into the soil by plowing or used as mulch.

The processing of the seeds to extract the oil produces a residue used in animal breeding. This product is a food rich in proteins and can compete with soy. It is used mainly to feed cattle, pigs and chickens but also (less important for the latter). The animal by-product has a low content of glucosinolates (cause of metabolic disorders for cattle and pigs).

Some varieties of rapeseed are sold as a vegetable, especially in Asian shops.

Biodiesel

The use of rapeseed oil for biodiesel production could be an alternative but only for a few vehicles to quickly replace the existing automotive fuels.

According to Coldiretti from oil such as rapeseed can be obtained 850 kg of biodiesel per hectare, an average vehicle consumes more than one tonne of biodiesel per year and are about 34 million vehicles. Since the agricultural area (UAA) Italian is 13 million hectares is unrealistic to suggest that food with only a few biodiesel pro mille of the total fleet Italian (although you could import from abroad is already the case for oil).

According to Coldiretti about 200-300 thousand vehicles are fueled with biodiesel Italian. Among the many important vehicles to be powered by biodiesel most important are those who grow the food.

Some farmers' associations are organizing to produce colza and sunflower seeds which will be transformed into biodiesel on site and used without paying excise duty and VAT only for agricultural purposes (tractors, mowers, etc., etc.). In this way the production of food for both human and animal use would become less dependent on the rise in oil prices.

At the moment, production is limited and therefore prices are not competitive with diesel. However, we must consider that in many countries the final price of fuel is increased from taxation and that the crops are heavily subsidized both from Italy and Europe, then the price of Rape is the result of subsidies and price is not a free market.

Allergies

The rape has been linked to negative effects for asthma and hay fever. Some pollen of oilseed rape was the reason for the increase in respiratory ailments. However this is unlikely since rape is a plant-pollinating insects, whose granules are mostly carried by insects. Perhaps the characteristic odor of the flower is associated with inappropriately by their allergic disorders. There is also some recent evidence that the extensive use of this and similar feeding vegetable oil is leading to a significant increase in cases of macular degeneration of the eye.

Honey

Oilseed rape produces much nectar from which derive a clear honey bees, but prickly. Must be removed immediately after its manufacture, as quickly crystallizes in the comb making it impossible to extract. This honey is usually mixed with sweeter varieties when used as a table cheese or cake product is sold. Producers of semi agree with beekeepers for pollination.

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