Growth Potential: Camelina Tested as Possible Fuel Source and Cash Crop.
(Energizing Arkansas) A nonprofit is trying to grow camelina, which can be combined with vegetable oil to produce
an alternative fuel source, to encourage economic and biofuel development in DeWitt.
Tami Hornbeck made the best of it during a recent field day in DeWitt, where consultants, financers, farmers and educators gathered to get a look at a plant that has been used by the U.S. military as a fuel source and more recently promoted in the community as a potential cash crop for Arkansas farmers.
“We’re not discouraged,” she said, after participants heard how winter ice and snow killed most of the camelina plants as
they were taking off in a plot next to Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas. “We’ve been disappointed, but we’re trying now to go about the right way of finding a variety that will work here.”
The plot was one of several in the region sewn with camelina seeds from Montana, where the crop has been studied as a
source of oil for biofuel. Farmers in Arkansas have been recruited to grow the seed, which is popular in Europe as a
cooking oil, because of its low gel point and need for less water than traditional Arkansas crops. Another selling point has
been that camelina could be planted the fall and harvested before farmers plant soybeans, rice or corn.
It’s been an experiment of sorts in agriculture, community development and renewable energy.
Communities Unlimited, of which Hornbeck is a managing director of community initiatives, has been working in
DeWitt on a Farm to Fuel initiative. The non profit has grant money to purchase the harvested camelina, crush its seeds and blend the oil with waste vegetable oil to make a biodiesel fuel that could then be sold to area farmers and others interested in a different fuel source for their equipment. READ MORE