New Biodiesel Crop Becoming Cash Crop for Farmers

John Davis

A new feedstock for the growing biodiesel industry could be a cash cow for the western states where it will be growing.

Camelina is an oilseed that is growing in popularity in the more arid regions of the western United States. In fact, the profit potential is believed to be so great that the State of Colorado’s Agricultural Value-Added Development Board has just issued a $41,059 Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy (ACRE) Program grant, which provides funding to promote energy-related projects beneficial to Colorado’s agriculture industry.

This story from the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch says the state money will be joined by nearly $13,000 from Blue Sun Biodiesel to aid in the research efforts:

Blue Sun is using the grant to develop camelina production practices by conducting water use efficiency trials, fertility experiments, date of planting studies and observing on-farm production. The culmination of the grant will result in a spring camelina production guide.

Blue Sun is actively breeding spring and winter camelina, through traditional breeding practices, to develop superior regionally adapted camelina cultivars for the region. Blue Sun has a spring camelina variety Cheyenne commercialized and available for sale.

“Camelina is part of the next step for biodiesel,” said Sean Lafferty, VP of Technology at Blue Sun Biodiesel. “It is a non-food crop, and it can be grown on land unsuitable for most other crops. Camelina is a good rotation crop as well and it can survive low and variable rainfall conditions, reducing risk for the farmer.”

Camelina is a non-food oilseed that is estimated could bring $80 million to Colorado’s economy.