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Ottawa backs camelina development

Seven-figure federal funding has been budgeted for work to improve camelina’s traits as a contender for Canadian oilseed acres.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Friday pledged $3.7 million in AgriInnovation funding for Soy 20/20, a soybean market development project aimed at expanding soy’s uses, to develop market-ready varieties of camelina sativa for production across Canada and to help boost the value of the oil for industrial use.

Camelina yields oils that can be used in “green” lubricants and polymers, as an alternative to petroleum-derived products, the federal government said in a release.

It’s also hardy enough to grow on “marginal” land, the government said, which could make it a valuable rotation crop for farmers, while its meal can also be used as “protein-rich” feed for cattle, poultry and hogs.

Federal ag department researchers are expected to collaborate with Soy 20/20 on this project by working to improve the agronomic traits of the crop, such as higher yield and oil content, improved seed size and resistance to diseases such as aster yellows.

“New agriculture crops such as camelina will make a compelling addition to the portfolio of purpose-grown specialty soybean varieties that we are currently helping commercialize in Canada,” Soy 20/20 CEO Jeff Schmalz said in the government’s release.

“These kinds of projects will benefit the environment and reduce our dependency on petroleum, while generating new income opportunities for Canadian farmers.”

Linnaeus Plant Sciences, an “industry partner” of Soy 20/20, is to manage the camelina research. The federal funding demonstrates Ottawa’s “long-term commitment to this emerging crop,” Linnaeus CEO Jack Grushcow said in the same release.

“This enables us to build significant interest in camelina among Canada’s agriculture producers, and it further positions the crop as a valuable industrial oilseed platform.” — Network

Related story:
Industrial crop oils eyed for jet-engine biofuel, Sept. 27, 2011

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