Illinois farmer Brad Glenn is bringing pennycress into his corn and soybean rotation as a promising biodiesel feedstock. Since 2008 – the National Biodiesel Board says this crop has been on the fast track to becoming a sustainable biodiesel resource. While the effort to grow pennycress for biodiesel is still in its infancy – Glenn says it’s essentially ready to go commercial. He says it has hit the right combination. It could mean another viable, sustainable source of oil for the nation’s energy supply while adding income to farm operations. Pennycress seed packets contain oilseeds that yield 36-percent oil when crushed. NBB says an acre would yield the equivalent of about 80 gallons of oil.
Retired Director of USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois Peter Johnsen has been instrumental in commercialization of the crop. He says a great benefit is that pennycress can be grown during the winter on existing farms that would otherwise sit dormant. He says there is no impact on existing crops, conservation grounds or critical wildlife habitat. Johnsen says pennycress also provides a valuable service as sustainable ground cover and takes very little energy and no inputs to grow in Midwestern states that run roughly between I-70 and I-80. He estimates there are potentially 40-million existing farm acres for the crop. Johnsen and Glenn would like to see farmers plant 10-thousand acres of pennycress in Central Illinois next fall.
Source: NAFB News Service