ARS Researching Camelina as a New Biofuel Crop
April 13, 2010
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists have long-term studies underway to examine growing camelina as a
bioenergy crop for producing jet fuel for the military and the aviation
industry. This research supports the recently signed memorandum of
understanding between the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Navy (DoN) and
interests of the Commercial Airlines
Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).
Native to Europe, camelina (Camelina sativa) is a member of the plant
family Brassicaceae and has been grown since ancient times for use as lamp
fuel, among other things. The seed's high oil content has made it a promising
candidate as a new source for biofuels.
Since 2006, ARS researchers and university collaborators throughout the
country have been examining how to incorporate camelina and other oil seed
crops into existing crop production systems. Preliminary results from
Mont., suggest that current camelina varieties use about as much water as
spring wheat, so growers would still need to leave land fallow in alternate
years to build up water or accept possible yield losses for wheat grown in
rotation. However, with appropriate breeding and selection for uniform,
desirable agronomic and oil quality characteristics, camelina has potential to
be a good oil seed crop for planting during fallow years.
Also, scientists in
Ariz., have identified a few lines of germplasm from the ARS camelina
collection that are suitable for rotations with cotton. ARS camelina germplasm
research concentrates on identifying high-yielding lines that industry can use
to develop new cultivars suitable for different growing conditions across the
In addition to Sidney and Maricopa, other ARS laboratories involved in
camelina and other oil seed research are
Wash. The ARS camelina germplasm collection in
Iowa, has 85 accessions of seven camelina species from around the world
available to researchers throughout the country.
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the USDA. This
research supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.