The oil seed, which is a mustard variant, is to be refined to make jet fuel for the Navy:
This season, western North Dakota farmers have agreed to plant 6,000 acres of an alternate crop – jet fuel.That's a new one on me.
Canadian seed producer Agrisoma Biosciences sought farmers this winter to plant carinata, a variety of mustard seed that can be made into a biofuel indistinguishable from petroleum products. One potential consumer, the U.S. Navy, is targeting carinata to help reach its goal of serving half of its energy needs with non-oil sources by 2020.
Agrisoma had a goal to have 4,000 acres planted. It filled that in three days then exceeded it, getting farmers to commit to 6,000 acres stretching from the southwest to the Canadian border, said Agrisoma representative Garret Groves.
“We’ve had pretty good success,” said Groves, adding that many of the farmers were looking for a new oil seed to add to their rotation.
Carinata looks similar to canola, only a little bushier. Many driving past fields where its being grown near Mott, Carson, Tioga, Ray, Williston, Noonan and Flasher probably won’t notice the difference.
John Rickertsen, research agronomist at the Hettinger Research Extension Center, said he planted his first test plot of carinata this past year and the harvest was good.
Plant times are about the same as canola, going in the ground between April 20 and May 5, and carinata is supposed to be more drought resistant. It also grows well on marginal lands.
The benefit of jet fuel made from carinata is it has lower carbon emissions. It can be used as a direct replacement for jet fuel, with no blending or engine changes required, Bliss said.
Carinata also works better than canola and similar crops as a biofuel because it produces more and better quality oil with high amino acid content, said Christine Bliss of the University of Florida when Agrisoma introduced the crop to farmers during the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center’s annual Western Dakota Crops Day. In Florida, 3,500 acres of carinata are were planted as a winter crop.
Carinata also has the benefit of not being a food crop.
The carinata planted is expected to yield between 1,800 pounds and one ton per acre, according to Groves, who said Agrisoma’s success will be measured by whether or not the farmers who plant it this year agree to plant it again in following years and on more acres. Agrisoma aims for North Dakota farmers to contribute acres to its goal of 50,000 acres planted next year.