A college in the Minneapolis, Minn., suburbs is testing whether double-cropped camelina could be a good alternative for biodiesel feedstocks. Minnesota Farm Guide reports Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s Cambridge Campus has a 24-acre double-crop plot of camelina and soybeans to see if the non-food camelina will produce enough oil in the double-crop environment.
“This is a true energy crop that isn’t used for food,” [Melanie Waite-Altringer, a biology faculty member who's leading the project,] said. “In this project, we are ‘intercropping’ camelina with soybeans to see if the two crops can be grown together with high yields of each.” Planted in early May, the camelina should be ready for harvest in late July or early August. A harvest party is planned for July 31 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The soybeans, planted in early June, are expected to be harvested in September or October.
“We’re pleased that Anoka-Ramsey can play a key role in this project, which may well spur new economic development in the region,” said Deidra Peaslee, vice president of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, “Besides enriching student learning, we are expanding opportunities for area farmers, businesses, and the workers needed in this emerging industry.”
“With the camelina not being widely known as a good source for biodiesel production, we are trying to showcase that it can be a sustainable resource of highly needed renewable energy,” Waite-Altringer said. “Our students are conducting research adjacent to the demonstration plot to see what ratio of camelina to soybeans will generate the optimal profit for farmers.”
The college has been working with Ever Cat Fuels LLC., an Isanti biofuel processor, U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, and local farmers to study the characteristics of various energy crops.