U.S. Biofuel Camelina Production Set to Soar
Dr. John C.K. Daly of Oil Price
The U.S. biofuel industry has long been stymied by the lack of USDA federal crop insurance, leaving only the most adventurous farmers willing to plant renewable energy crops.
Biofuel sources currently under development include algae, jatropha and camelina. Of the three, camelina is increasingly emerging as the frontrunner in attracting initial investment worldwide, as global demand for aviation fuel for passenger flights is now more than 40 billion gallons annually.
Camelina has a number of advantages over its competitors, including using far less water, thus allowing it to be grown on marginal land, thereby not taking food acreage out of production.
Furthermore camelina has a relatively short growing season of 80 to 100 days, requires no special equipment to harvest, and the silage remaining after processing can be fed to livestock and poultry, with the added side benefit of increasing their omega-3 production.
Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has given camelina production a major shot in the arm by selecting 40 counties in Montana for a pilot program of federally backed camelina crop insurance. The counties covered are Big Horn, Blaine, Broadwater, Carbon, Carter, Cascade, Chouteau, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Fergus, Garfield, Glacier, Golden Valley, Hill, Judith Basin, Lewis and Clark, Liberty, McCone, Meagher, Musselshell, Park, Petroleum, Phillips, Pondera, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sheridan, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Teton, Toole, Treasure, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux and Yellowstone.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has long championed camelina as an ideal Montana green energy crop, commenting: "It's been my goal to help make Montana a leader in renewable energy. Through camelina our state has the potential to create jobs, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and decrease carbon emissions."
Camelina is currently being grown in nine U.S. states plus four Canadian provinces. Montana's production now tops 80,000 acres, while trials are going on in 12 additional states and 37 more are considering production. The USDA program, to be overseen by the department's Risk Management Agency, will undoubtedly lead to a surge in Montana-based camelina production, as its politicians have long been in the forefront of promoting the plant.
Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester got camelina insurance included in the 2007 farm bill with his Biofuel Crop Insurance Pilot Program initiative, which he inserted into the most recent Farm Bill, because he knew the crop wouldn't blossom in Montana unless it had the federal safety net of crop insurance. According the USDA's announcement the insurance will be available for the 2012 crop year. Following the USDA statement Tester said, "There's got to be a safety net.
You don't go into new crops unless you're independently wealthy or you have a safety net. Most farmers aren't independently wealthy. This initiative will provide jobs and opportunities for Montana farmers--while bringing our entire nation closer to energy independence through home-grown, renewable resources. I'm pleased the USDA is finally putting some muscle behind my camelina law and providing Montana farmers the chance to expand this promising resource and create jobs in the process. If I had a bit more time, I'd be growing oilseeds on my farm and investing in biofuels myself. This bill will open the door to a whole lot of opportunities for my neighbors-and for farmers all across Montana. Expanding biofuels in Montana is a win-win-win situation. It provides options and more job opportunities for farmers. It's responsible and sustainable development of a renewable resource. And it cuts back on our thirst for foreign oil, which will ultimately make our country more secure." Tester is one of only two farmers in the Senate.
The deadline for purchasing the insurance is 1 February 2012. Only spring-planted camelina grown under contract with a processor will be eligible for coverage against damage from adverse weather, fire, wildlife, earthquake, volcanic eruption and insect and plant disease. The insurance will not provide compensation for any losses attributed to insufficient or improper application of pest or disease control measures.
Great Plains Oil and Exploration-The Camelina Co. President Sam Huttenbauer said, "This is a critical step toward camelina becoming a major U.S. biofuel crop and a huge help for the farmers of Montana and North Dakota. We greatly appreciate the assistance of the senators in Montana, in particular Jon Tester who paved the way for this crop with his work to get this program into the farm bill."
National Farmers Union President Tom Buis added, "Renewable energy production is one of the most exciting opportunities in our rural communities. I commend Senator Tester's foresight in introducing this legislation. Public policy can and should encourage innovation and diversification of both our food and fuel supplies."
Among the customers lining up for camelina JP-8 aviation fuel will be the U.S. armed forces, which have spent the last two years extensively testing camelina's suitability, with the U.S. Air Force earlier this certifying camelina biofuel for use in its fleet of Globemaster transport aircraft. Given that the new federal crop insurance will undoubtedly boost camelina feedstocks for biofuel refineries, the Pentagon can look to Montana as a major supporter in its efforts to go "green."
By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com
Camelina alyssum (Mill.) Thell.
Camelina microcarpa Andrz. ex DC.
Camelina rumelica Velen.
Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz
Camelina is a genus within the flowering plant family Brassicaceae. One species, Camelina sativa, is a historic and potentially important oil plant. It is native to Mediterranean regions of the world like, Europe and Asia.Turkamanistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Spain. It is also known by other names such as German sesame, false-flax, gold-of-pleasure, and Siberian oilseed. It has gained some of these names because of its cold-hardiness. 
 Agricultural History
Historians hypothesize that agricultural cultivation of camelina began in Neolithic times and continued in Europe into the Iron Age when its cultivation doubled. Carbonization of seeds has shown the use of camelina as an oilseed crop during the Bronze Age around the North Sea. As early as 600 BCE, camelina was being sown as a monoculture around the Rhine River Valley. It is predicted that camelina mainly spread by co-existing as a weed with flax monocultures. For reasons unknown, camelina dissolved as a crop during medieval times. It was possibly brought to North America unintentionally as a weed with flaxseed, and has had limited commercial importance until modern times. Currently, the breeding potential is unexplored compared to other oilseeds commercially grown around the world. 
 Plant Characteristics
An annual plant, camelina grows to heights of one to three feet with branching stems which become woody at maturity. Camelina is a short season crop, reaching maturity in 85-100 days. It is gaining notoriety for being able to withstand water shortages in early stages of development.  Its abundant four-petaled flowers are pale yellow in colour. The leaves are pointed with smooth edges and grow approximately three inches long. Camelina is cultivated as an oilseed, and as such has seeds with a high oil content (40%). Seeds, which mature in seed pods, have a characteristic orange colour and are very small in size. Camelina is harvested and seeded with conventional farming equipment, which makes adding it to a crop rotation relatively easy for farmers who do not already grow it.  
 Use in Canada
Current acres in Canada are approximately 50 000. The Camelina Association of Canada projects Canada could have 1 to 3 million camellia acres in the future. There are several factors challenging the spread of camelina cultivation in Canada. Camelina does not have government crop classification in Canada, and camelina meal is not approved as livestock feed. Additionally, camelina products are not approved for human consumption. 
A seeding rate of 6-14kg/ha is recommended. With this seeding rate, these independently non-competitive seedlings become competitive against weeds because of their density. The seedlings are early emerging and can withstand mild frosts in the spring. Conventional oilseed herbicides and pesticides can be used on camelina, and it should be noted that camelina is highly resistant to black leg and Alternaria brassicae. 
 Biodiesel and jet fuel
The US State of Montana has recently been growing more and more camelina for its potential as a biofuel and bio-lubricant. Plant scientists at the University of Idaho and other institutions study this emerging biodiesel.
Studies have shown camelina-based jet fuel to reduce net carbon emissions from jets by about 80%. The United States Navy chose camelina as the feedstock for their first test of aviation biofuel, and successfully operated a static F414 engine (used in the F/A-18) in October 2009 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The US Air Force also began testing the fuel in its aircraft in March 2010. In March, 2011, the U.S. Air Force successfully tested a 50/50 mix of JP-8 (Jet Propellent 8) and camelina-derived biofuel in an F-22 Raptor, achieving a speed of Mach 1.5. On September 4, 2011, the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron would be using a 50/50 blend of Camelina biofuel and jet fuel at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Air Expo. This event marks the first time that an entire military aviation unit has flown on a biofuel mix. The Navy plans to deploy a "Great Green Fleet" by 2016, a Carrier battle group powered entirely by non-fossil fuels. The Air Force is also planning on using 50% biofuels in its aircraft by 2016 As such, the U.S. Air Force announced that by the year 2016, 50% of the fuel it consumes will be from biofuels as well.
KLM, the Royal Dutch Airline, was the first airline in the world to operate a passenger-carrying flight using biofuel. On the 23 of November 2009 a Boeing 747 flew, carrying a limited number of passengers, with one of its four engines running on a 50/50 mix of biofuel and kerosene.
In June, 2011, a Gulfstream G450 became the first business jet to cross the Atlantic ocean using a blend of 50/50 biofuel developed by Honeywell derived from camelina and petroleum based jet fuel.
 Animal Feed
Camelina seed ranges from 37 to 41% oil content and this oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Camelina meal is the by-product of camelina when the oil has been extracted. Camelina meal has a significant crude protein content. "Feeding camelina meal significantly increased (p < 0.01) omega-3 [fatty acid] concentration in both breast and thigh meat [of turkeys] compared to control group." Medical research indicates that a diet abundant in omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial to human health.
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- Biofuel-powered U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor breaks sound barrier