It takes a 'village' of students and researchers to create a Camelina market

| March 28, 2008

  • Camelina flower
    Camelina flower.
    Kelly Gorham
  • Camelina Pellets
    Camelina pellets make stove fuel.
    Kelly Gorham

  • Camelina flower
  • Camelina Pellets

You've heard camelina oil has a potential in biofuels. Now Montana State University researchers are working to bring you camelina stove pellets, camelina in bread and peanut butter, camelina for livestock feed and camelina mulch, in addition to camelina growing recommendations.

It's all part of a push to provide a well-rounded research base for local economic development, said Alice Pilgeram, director of the MSU Biobased Institute, which supports bioenergy and biobased research projects being done by faculty, staff and students of MSU, MSU Extension and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station.

The goal is to find uses for the by-products of camelina oil processing, as well as for the better-known omega-3-rich camelina oil.

"The emphasis at MSU is development of value-added applications for camelina meal," Pilgeram said. "Expansion of the Montana camelina crop has been limited by the current high prices of wheat and barley. However, early research has indicated that camelina is a valuable wheat rotation crop even in place of fallow."

The work is taking place at many sites around Montana as well as in Bozeman. At Havre's Northern Ag Research Center, Darin Boss is researching camelina meal as a beef cattle feed while Peggy Lamb and Gregg Carlson look at camelina in comparison to other oilseed crops. At the Central Ag Research Center at Moccasin, Chengci Chen is investigating crop rotations and Dave Wichman the effect of planting date on camelina yields. At the Western Triangle Research Center at Conrad, Grant Jackson is working on the effects of fertilization on camelina yields, and the Southern Ag Research Center in Huntley Steve King is evaluating herbicides for control of weeds in camelina.

At MSU in Bozeman, David Sands has completed a preliminary evaluation of camelina for use in poultry and dairy feeds and is working with nutritionist Mary Stein to evaluate camelina for use in peanut butters and breads; nutritionist Christina Campbell is studying the effects of camelina oil on inflammation in middle-aged women; plant scientist Chaofu Lu is investigating the metabolism of oilseeds; Pilgeram is working with MSU land resources student Carol Froseth to see how camelina waste would do as a mulch, and with plant sciences master's student Brekke Peterson on camelina for odor eradication and remediation of soils and water contaminated with aromatic compounds such as creosote and dichlorophenol. MSU Extension Professor Mike Vogel is working with MSU Mechanical Engineering Professor Vic Cundy and his students to develop the best-burn mix for camelina heating stove pellets.

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