Winter Camelina: New cash crop opportunities for sustainable sugar beet production

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $199,999.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Samantha Wells
University of Minnesota


  • Agronomic: sugarbeets


  • Crop Production: cover crops, relay cropping
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    Sugar beet is an economically important crop in the North Central Region, with substantial acreages in Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan. However, sugar beet production can have negative environmental impacts as no residue is left on the soil surface over winter to prevent erosion and offsite movement of N and P. New winter-annual oilseed crops such as winter camelina [Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] can be planted following sugar beet harvest to provide both economic and environmental benefits to farm systems through protection of soil (e.g., reduction in wind and water erosion) and off-site movement of nutrients, while affording the farmer the opportunity to harvest an additional cash crop. The objectives of this research and education project are to Obj. 1) demonstrate the viability of winter camelina for integration in sugar beet crop rotations, Obj. 2) quantify the economics associated with this new cropping system, and Obj. 3) establish supply chain connections necessary for farm-scale production and marketability of winter camelina. Winter camelina production following sugar beet will be evaluated on three farms across the sugar beet production region of Minnesota. Participating farmers will track economic inputs throughout production and harvest of the winter camelina, and will receive contracted compensation for the harvested crop. Crop growth and management (of both winter camelina and subsequent soybean), as well as environmental benefits will be demonstrated through on-farm research and outreach, winter grower meetings, and a summer field event, along with a series of web based educational publications.

    Processing of the oilseed and product analyses will be facilitated through partnership with the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute (AURI), establishing intermediate supply chain connections. This project aims to establish farmer awareness and knowledge of winter camelina as a valuable crop, and the environmental significance of maintaining vegetative cover throughout the growing season.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Learning outcomes: Approximately 3800 sugar beet producers will gain knowledge of winter camelina as an economically viable winter annual crop. Additionally, they will learn about soil health benefits winter annual crops can contribute to summer annual cropping systems.

    Action outcomes: Producers will gain market awareness, agronomic production knowledge, and cost benefit analysis of adding winter camelina into their rotation.

    System or condition changes: Increased adoption of winter camelina will lead to improved soil health and better environmental outcomes for sugar beet cropping systems. Supply chain connections established for camelina oil will improve economic sustainability of farmers in the Upper Midwest

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.