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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Research Project #424007


Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The project objectives are interlinked to address the three aspects of biofuel supply chain performance. These objectives contribute directly to the establishment of commercial renewable jet fuel from brassica napus and supportive businesses, and they are: (1) Feedstock Enhancement. Produce genetically-improved oil seed crops to enhance compatibility of feedstocks with hydro-treated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel conversion processes, and oil yield and quality stability under stressed production conditions. (2) Feedstock Production. Provide regionalized strategies to guide sustainable oil seed production integration into existing farms in ways that increase farm profitability and rural economic opportunities, while providing biofuel refineries with dependable supplies of high quality feedstocks. (3) Oil Quality. Develop cost-effective processes to remove crop oil impurities from feedstocks that would otherwise increase pre-treatment costs and reduce conversion efficiency of oils to HRJ fuels. (4) Conversion. Optimally configure conversion technology with genetically improved seed oil feedstocks and pre-treatment requirements to reduce the cost of HRJ fuels produced. (5) Commercialization. Align community and business stakeholders to promote their economic opportunities through sustainable asset-based development that incorporates HRJ fuel production compatible with available resources.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Technical Area A/Obj-2a. Determine how environmental variation influences oil seed performance across and between farm fields in different growing regions. Ground- and space based sensing technology will be incorporated into a protocol to accurately assess oil seed crop production and oil quality across fields and larger scales at high spatial resolution. Technical Area A/Obj-2b. Develop cropping systems that incorporate production of oilseeds into existing agricultural land in ways that enhance production of current crops and improve resource use efficiency. Long-term multi-location crop rotation studies including oil seed crop components from 10 ARS field locations in eight states will be used in a meta-analysis to identify optimal production strategies for incorporating oilseeds into existing agricultural systems and determining break-even oil seed prices needed for feedstock production to compete with existing agricultural land uses in five western U.S. ecoregions. Evaluate the response of winter and spring planted species at the Ames site to quantify their environmental response and utilize growth analysis techniques, phenotypic screening, and resource capture efficiency to compare their growth response to crops grown in Iowa.

3. Progress Report:
Winter and spring stress trials were established with 12 entries in each trial to evaluate the response of the different entries to the growing conditions. Planting of the winter trial was delayed because of the extremely dry conditions in 2012 and this caused the camelina entry to be the only one to survive through the winter. In the spring, the extremely wet conditions had an adverse impact on the camelina entry compared to the other entries in the spring stress trial. Biomass sampling was conducted five times for both the winter and spring stress trials during the growing season along with weekly measurements of light interception and reflectance. Plant yield components were collected from each entry at harvest. A spring diversity panel with 221 entries was planted for phenotypic comparisons but herbicide carryover from the previous growing season prevented the plants from growing and this trial was terminated.

4. Accomplishments