Evaluation of Camelina sativa as an alternative seed crop and feedstock for biofuel and developing replacement heifers.

2008 Annual Report for SW07-049

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $155,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Bret Hess
University of Wyoming

Evaluation of Camelina sativa as an alternative seed crop and feedstock for biofuel and developing replacement heifers.


Trials utilizing camelina to replace fallow in the traditional wheat-fallow system have begun in Montana and Wyoming. Camelina yielded 603 lbs/acre in Montana but due to drought conditions in Wyoming camelina produced only 314 lbs/acre in Wyoming. Camelina oil was extracted from seed produced by four growers in Wyoming. The resulting camelina meal and crude glycerin generated from biodiesel production were used as dietary supplements for developing beef heifers. Growth and reproductive performance of heifers fed camelina co-products was comparable to that of heifers fed a conventional ground corn-soybean meal supplement. Transfer of knowledge to stakeholders has begun and will continue.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objective I. Evaluate field production of camelina in Montana and Wyoming.

Objective II. Evaluate camelina oil for production of biodiesel.

Objective III. Evaluate camelina co-products in diets of developing replacement beef heifers.

Objective IV. Evaluate the ecological impact and economic potential of: (a) replacing camelina for fallow; (b) utilizing camelina as a feedstock for biodiesel; and (c) including camelina co-products in diets of developing replacement beef heifers.


Objective I & IVa

Montana Activities:

A camelina-wheat versus the traditional wheat-fallow system rotation study was initiated at the Central Agricultural Research Center (CARC), Moccasin, MT. The rotation study has 1) winter wheat, 2) fallow, 3) winter wheat, and 4) camelina phases, and each phase shows up each year for three years. The winter wheat was planted on September 18, 2007, and camelina was planted on March 28, 2008. The camelina was harvested on July 29, 2008, and winter wheat was harvested on August 1, 2008. A small bundle sample was harvested from each plot to evaluate the harvest index and crop residue return to soil. Soil moisture content was measured in early May and August of 2008 after crop harvest by taking soil core samples and measuring the moisture gravimetrically. Soil moisture content was not affected by agronomic crop grown (Table 1). Winter wheat was planted on September 23, 2008 for the second year (2008-2009) rotation, and camelina will be planted in March 2009. Crop residue return and soil condition index data are under processing.

Wyoming Activities:

In Wyoming, the site is located at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) in Goshen County. A study site was chosen that had been in long term dryland winter wheat/fallow production. The experiment will be repeated at each site in each year of the three years of the funding period (Table 2).

Each treatment was replicated 4 times with each treatment block consisting of 0.5 acres. The camelina planting date was mid-March (13 March) with winter wheat having been sown the previous September. Prior to sowing of camelina 1.5 pt/acre of treflan was applied along with 1 qt/acre of glyphosate plus 32 oz/acre of ammonia sulfate solution for control of weeds. The camelina sowing rate was 2.4 lb/acre. Conditions in March and April were dry with only 0.25 and 0.42 inches of moisture occurring for these months, respectively. Therefore, the stand of camelina was very poor. To resolve this problem the camelina was replanted on 20 May. Prior to this sowing weeds were controlled with 12 oz/acre of Roundup Utra (glyphosate) plus 8 oz/acre Request adjuvant applied on 14 May. Follow-up evaluation indicated that this camelina stand was adequate. Because of the late sowing camelina bud formation did not occur until approximately 8 July with flowering, seed fill, and maturity not occurring until approximately 12 July, 1 August, and 19 August, respectively.

On 16 July winter wheat harvest was accomplished while camelina was not harvested until 29 August. Yield sampling for both crops was accomplished by harvesting a representative strip across each block with an Almaco small plot combine with 5 foot header. The rest of the plot areas were bulk harvested.

The weather conditions affected results. From March to August only 8.85 inches of precipitation occurred at SAREC. Therefore, wheat production averaged only 24.2 bu/acre with a test weight of 58.8 lb. Camelina averaged only 314 lb/acre well below any economical threshold. It is worth noting that the 2 blocks of camelina that were sown into winter wheat residue yielded only 58% of those sown into fallow. While the conditions remain dry at SAREC, we anticipate following the experimental plan as described in Table 2.

It is also worth noting that UW Weed Scientist Dr. Andrew Kniss initiated a weed management small plot experiment for the control of volunteer camelina at the study site in the autumn of 2008. The experiment, which is within one camelina block, will not interfere with project and will provide valuable information on the management of camelina in winter wheat rotations.

Objective III

Camelina seed was purchased from four producers in Carbon and Niobrara Counties, Wyoming. The seed was transported to Chambers, Nebraska, on September 22, 2007. Camelina oil was separated from the seed using mechanical extraction, and following production of biodiesel at a facility in New Mexico, the resulting crude glycerin was transported to the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC). Camelina meal remaining following oil extraction was transported to LREC on November 1, 2007.

The University of Wyoming Animal Care and Use Committee approved all procedures for the following experiment. Ninety-nine Angus × Gelbvieh rotationally crossed heifers were stratified by body weight (661 ± 4.7 lb initial body weight) and allotted randomly within each body weight block to 1 of 15 pens (6-7 heifers/pen). Heifer body weights were recorded as the average pre-feeding weight taken on 2 consecutive days at the beginning (February 25 and 26), middle (March 25 and 26), and end (April 25 and 26) of the experimental feeding period.

Heifers were offered diets formulated to provide 12.6% crude protein. Bromegrass hay was offered daily at 2.40% of average body weight (as-fed) from February 26 through March 26 and at 2.26% of average body weight (as-fed) March 27 through April 25. Within respective body weight blocks, heifers were offered 1 of 3 experimental supplements: 1) a conventional supplement consisting of 50% ground corn and 50% soybean meal (as-fed); 2) camelina meal; and 3) a supplement consisting of 50% soybean meal, 33% ground corn, 15% crude glycerin, and 2% corn gluten meal (as-fed). Supplements were offered daily at 0.3% of average body weight (as-fed) from February 26 through March 26 and at 0.29% of average body weight (as-fed) March 27 through April 25. No feed remained in the bunks after each 24-hour ration was delivered. Heifers had free access to water and mineralized salt throughout the experiment.

On April 26, heifers were synchronized for estrus using a 1-shot PGF2α protocol. Heifers were combined into 1 large group where they had free access to water, mineralized salt, and bromegrass hay. Estrous activity was evaluated twice daily, and any heifer showing estrus was bred via artificial insemination 12 hours after standing heat. Heifers not exhibiting estrus were given a shot of GnRH and bred via artificial insemination on May 10. Any heifer showing estrus up through the 10:00 a.m. on June 1 was again bred via artificial insemination 12 hours after standing heat. Conception to initial artificial insemination was assumed to have occurred if a heifer was not observed in estrus for a second time. Conception and pregnancy rates will be confirmed at parturition (January 31 – March 28, 2009).

Preliminary results indicate that camelina co-products can be fed as dietary supplements to developing replacement heifers (Table 3). The feeding trial will be repeated at LREC in 2009. To make the experiment more statistically sound, data from the 2nd year the will be combined with data from the 1st year. These data will then be used to address Objective IV c.

Objective II

Project participants are making arrangements to evaluate camelina oil for on-farm production of biodiesel.

Objective IV

This objective will be accomplished after completion of objectives I – III.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

A field day was organized at the CARC on June 19, 2008. The field day was successful and over 150 people participated in the crop tour, where replacing fallow with camelina in a traditional winter wheat-fallow cropping system was discussed. A field day was also held at the SAREC on July 24, 2008. Over 100 people attended field presentations that included camelina as an oilseed crop and camelina co-products as feedstuffs for growing lambs and developing beef heifers. Preliminary results were presented as a poster at the Western SARE subregional conference held in Cheyenne on October 28 and 29. The poster remains on display for public viewing at SAREC. In the short run, this project has increased producer awareness and knowledge as producers attended field days, the Western SARE subregional conference, and cooperators grew camelina. Industry gained knowledge as they used camelina to produce biodiesel. Furthermore, preliminary results of the feeding trial have been shared with FDA and a coalition of businesses that seek to have crude glycerin and camelina meal approved as feed ingredients for livestock.


Chengci Chen

[email protected]
Assistant Professor of Agronomy (Cropping Systems)
Montana State University
HC90 Box20
Moccasin, MT 59462
Office Phone: 4064235421
Jim Kintz

[email protected]
Managing Director
Energy Fuel Dynamics
Gillette, WY
Office Phone: 3076862463
Thomas Foulke

[email protected]
Assistant Research Scientist of Agricultural and A
University of Wyoming
1000 E. University
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077666205
James Krall

[email protected]
Professor of Agronomy and Extension Agronomist
University of Wyoming
2753 State Hwy. 157
Lingle, WY 82223-8543
Office Phone: 3078372000
James Jacobs

[email protected]
Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics
University of Wyoming
1000 E. University
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077663598
Charles Rife

[email protected]
Oilseed Breeder
Blue Sun Biodiesel
Westminster , CO 80234
Office Phone: 3038657700
Duane Johnson

[email protected]
Office Phone: 4064710671