Canada Invests in Oil Seeds


Canada and Saskatchewan have invested $4.5 million in a three-year research initiative to develop camelina and Brassica carinata as oil seed crops to replace petroleum in some industrial lubricants and greases.

Under the name Prairie Gold, nonprofit organization Genome Prairie will pilot the research project in collaboration with research companies and federal and provincial government partners. The research into the generic structure and plant breeding of camelina (false flax) and Brassica carinata (Ethiopian mustard) will aim to maximize the oil profile and increase production per acre.

According to the governments announcement Friday, using the crops as a petroleum substitute for high value, non-fuel applications such as lubricants, hydraulic fluids, greases and polymers would create end products with more value than products such as canola oil that are developed from traditional oil seed crops.

The goal is to contract out acreage for both crops, so that it will be controlled farm acres to keep the prices high, Prairie Gold project manager Doug Heath told Lube Report. Thats the advantage to producers as well as to the downstream production of non-fuel replacements for petroleum products.

The oil seed crops would be a different production stream than that used for food production. Theyre low input crops, Heath noted, referring to camelina and carinata. The advantage is that they can be grown on marginal lands, so thats not going to take food acres out of production. What were looking at is getting regulatory approvals for the use of these industrial crops.

Several private and public institutions will conduct the research, he said. Private researchers include the National Research Council Canada, and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada. Institutions participating on the private industry side include Linnaeus Plant Sciences, Agrisoma Biosciences, and Mustard 21, which is an initiative developing new products and applications for the countrys mustard industry.

Funding for the projects began in October, Heath pointed out, and some of the research is already under way.

Genome Prairie, established in 2000, manages research projects and regional participation for genomic research and knowledge transfer. It has offices in Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

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