The oil mill Mara
|Position||Marktzeuln, Upper Franconia|
|Products||Rapeseed oil fuel, vegetable oils, fodder oil, press cake (cattle feed) and chain saw oil|
|Processed oil seeds||
|Origin of the oil seeds||Regional cultivation areas|
For Andreas Sollman, CEO of the oil mill MARA, the future of decentral oil mills resides in the various utilization possibilities of the processed rape seed as fuel, edible and fodder oil and as protein fed. Only by combining these options efficiently, a sustainable value can be created in rural areas.
There had been various reasons for numerous farmers to establish an oil mill in in the Upper Franconian administrative district of Lichtenfels leading in 2001 to the corresponding decision together with the board of the Maschinenring Coburg/Kronach/Lichtenfels: the fluctuating, generally rising diesel prices, the high-volume rapeseed cultivation on site and the desire for domestic animal feed. Thus, 180 farmers founded the oil mill MARA GmbH & Co. KG, with one managing director and a supervisory board consisting of seven farmers to handle the business. In terms of administration, the oil mill still receives advisory support from the machinery ring.
The ceremonial start of MARA took place in April 2002 after a construction period of approx. 6 months, when the plant, inaugurated by the then Bavarian Minister of the Environment Dr. Werner Schnappauf personally, was put into operation with an hourly output of 800 kg rape seed. For strategic reasons with regard to logistics, the press was built on the premises of the Stegner Company in Untersiemau, while the office is integrated into the Maschinenring office building. However, after only four years the capacity of the plant was increased to an output of 1,800 kg per hour due to increasing demand. Two Reinatz presses then worked annually on the initially approx. 14,000 tons of rapeseed, which was purchased from around 4,500 hectares of cultivated land and converted into approx. 5 million liters of gold-colored rapeseed oil.
Committed to a thoroughly sustainable concept, the oil is utilized up till today in various areas: as cooking oil, feed oil, fuel in cars, trucks and tractors, in combined heat and power plants, in vegetable oil burners and for transesterification in biodiesel plants. At its peak, about 85% of the rapeseed oil was marketed as fuel through the 3 company-own filling stations, which offered good sales opportunities to the farmers. In order to make it easier for interested farmers to convert to the sustainable fuel, MARA offered and still offers (in cooperation with the conversion company Peter Schramm, SMF Filtersysteme) conversions of cars, trucks and tractors to vegetable oil.
Unfortunately, however, in the wake of taxation and the economic crisis, sales also declined at MARA GmbH & Co. KG - as well as in almost every decentralized oil mill at that time – until it came basically to a standstill. Instead, the vegetable gold is now mainly used as feed oil: the high energy density, the balanced ratio of essential fatty acids, the dust-binding capacity, the increased fluidity of pelletized feed mixtures and the generally positive effect on feed consistency and animal health contribute to the fact that rapeseed oil enjoys a high degree of popularity among farmers and end consumers. The feeding oil itself can either be collected on site from the Steger company or, if desired, can be delivered within a certain radius by the company's own car from a minimum quantity of 1,000 liters.
But also the rapeseed cake, i.e. the solid press residue produced as a by-product during the cold pressing of rapeseed oil, is of great use in agriculture: Not only does it serve as a protein-rich feed for cattle, but - according to Danish and Austrian studies - thanks to certain components it prevents the formation of a newly discovered group of microbes in the ruminant stomach that produce methane.
Facts about the rapeseed oil
✔ extraction from small, black-brown seeds
✔ particularly high content of monounsaturated fatty acids
✔ high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid)
✔ positive influence on the cholesterol metabolism
✔ Content of antioxidative active substances vitamin E and beta-carotene
As mentioned above, the fact that the focus has shifted somewhat away from its use as a fuel is due to political decisions - which are suboptimal for the biofuel industry in terms of taxation - and to fundamentally misguided “food or fuel” discussions. As a result, a large part of the German biofuel market was practically brought to a standstill; MARA was able to partially absorb the reduced sales in the fuel sector by increasing the marketing of feed oil, while most other oil mills had to close. The use of rapeseed oil as a regional, climate-neutral fuel in agriculture and forestry would guarantee a sustainable recycling economy in the region. After all, it is the rapeseed oil produced by MARA itself that has been used as fuel by the harvester Rapster of the Bavarian State Forests for two years. The research and development project under the leadership of the TFZ in Straubing, which is being accompanied by the John Deere European Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) and the Donauwald Forstmaschinen, is an excellent example of how the alternative fuel from renewable resources can also drive power-intensive machines.
„ The technical possibilities are available, we are able to produce high-quality, sustainable fuel. Now, the political course must be set so that this can also be used in the long term.“
Andreas Sollmann, a trained farmer with a degree from the technical school in Triesdorf, has been managing director of the oil mill MARA GmbH & Co. KG since 2002.
The rapeseed oil fuel produced from regional seeds according to DIN standards can be purchased directly from the farm's filling station or delivered by tank truck.
For the use of the John Deere 1270G wood harvester, the MARA oil mill has proven to be a reliable supplier of rapeseed oil fuel in accordance with DIN 51605 since the start of the trial.