Producing biomass: Biomass types: Crops: Indian mustard
Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), is an annual oilseed crop and close relative to canola. Like canola, there is also potential to use the oil from Indian mustard seed to produce biodiesel.

Benefits of growing Indian mustard

The Juncea canola growers guide for Victoria & South Australia [PDF, 736 kB] claims that Indian mustard is a good alternative to canola in drier grain growing regions of south-eastern Australia for the following reasons:
  • It can tolerate drier and hotter conditions during flowering and pod fill (annual rainfall 300-400 mm).
  • It can out-yield canola by up to 30% during very dry years.
  • Some varieties establish quickly, minimising competition from weeds and reducing water loss from soil evaporation.
  • Seeds are more tolerant of shattering.
Indian mustard is a good alternative to canola
Indian mustard also shares with canola similar biofumigation properties, which make it an ideal rotation crop with cereals. Both help to reduce soil-born diseases such as crown rot and nematodes which can severely limit yield in winter cereals. Like canola, there is also potential to use the oil from Indian mustard seed to produce biodiesel. An Indian mustard breeding program for biodiesel production commenced in 2006 at the University of Sydney. Results from the study show that Indian mustard:
  • is very drought-tolerant (annual rainfall 300-400 mm)
  • is adapted to both subtropical and temperate areas in Australia
  • may provide potential biofumigation and crop rotation benefits to other annual crops in the temperate region of eastern Australia.

Evaluating the economics of growing Indian mustard

The report Demonstration of Market Delivery of Biodiesel from Indian Mustard in North-West NSW, published by AgriFutures Australia in 2012, examines the benefits of using Indian mustard as a rotational crop with cereals and the feasibility of producing biodiesel from Indian mustard.It outlines the results of a mustard breeding program and preliminary biodiesel production and application in and around Narrabri in north-west New South Wales. The aim of the research was to keep the biodiesel value chain in the local communities of the north-west grains region on NSW. Mustards were grown on farm in the crop rotation and biodiesel was made and used on farm, produced in grower cooperatives or provided as a feedstock to large-scale biodiesel plants located in local towns. The report is targeted at plant breeders, grain growers, seed merchants and commercial operators of biodiesel plants in NSW and Queensland.

Growing Indian mustard

The paper Agronomy for canola quality Brassica juncea in modern cropping systems [PDF, 28 kB], published by The University of Melbourne, provides a brief situation analyses of current juncea canola agronomy and gaps in current agronomic knowledge. Most of the recent agronomic research is based on Western Australian and Victorian cropping systems which have studied its:
  • drought-tolerant qualities
  • herbicide tolerance
  • nutrition requirements
  • boron and salinity tolerance
  • disease and pest resistance.
The Juncea canola growers guide for Victoria & South Australia [PDF, 736 kB] provides best management strategies and a checklist for growers who want to grow Brassica juncea in low-rainfall zones. Though targeted primarily at types grown for edible oil, the same principles apply to condiment mustard and industrial mustard. It has information on:
  • paddock selection
  • crop establishment
  • row spacing
  • crop nutrition
  • crop protection
  • harvest management
  • marketing options.
A study by the University of Sydney found that late sowing in low-rainfall areas forces maturity of the seed and decreases the yield while early sowing results in economically viable seed yields (>1.3 t/ha). A similar study in the medium-rainfall region of Muresk, Western Australia, also shares these claims that Indian mustard performs better when it is sown early (Curtin University of Technology and Agriculture Western Australia).

Harvesting Indian mustard

According to the Juncea canola growers guide for Victoria & South Australia [PDF, 736 kB] the principles for harvesting juncea canola are similar to canola. The aim is to harvest a clean, evenly ripened grain sample at a moisture content of no more than 8%. The grower guide provides details on how to harvest via:
  • direct heading
  • windrowing
  • desiccation.

Supplying Indian mustard

The only current commercial production of mustard in Australia is on the South West Slopes of NSW where around 300 tonne of grain is produced for crushing by Yandilla Mustard Enterprises. The Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) has established a juncea canola working group to oversee market and quality issues. The AOF has recognised market choice protocols.


ADI Systems Asia Pacific Ltd

ADI Systems Asia Pacific

83 Castle Street, Dunedin, New Zealand, 9058
Phone: 1 800 751 806
Richard Trethowan

Faculty of Agriculture and Environment

The University of Sydney, Camden, NSW, 2570,
Phone: 02 9351 8860
Steven Hobbs

BE Bio-Energy, Yarrock Oils

713 Yarrock Road, Kaniva, VIC 3419,
Phone: 0419 003 752