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Research supports carinata carbon savings potential between primary crops

April 19, 2022

Frontiers in Energy Research, Bioenergy and Biofuels recently published a research article Modeling yield, biogenic emissions, and carbon sequestration in southeastern cropping systems with winter carinata

U.S. experts from Mississippi State, University of Georgia, University of Florida, Colorado State University, Oakridge National Laboratory, and Nuseed recently published an article studying the carbon-savings potential of planting carinata as a cover crop between primary crops in the Southeastern United States. 

“This scientific publication supports the potential of our non-food cover crop Nuseed Carinata, grown using no-till practices in the Southeast United States, to provide a substantial net soil carbon sink,” explains Glenn Johnston, Nuseed Carinata Global Regulatory. “Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) demand is rapidly growing and production of SAF from lipids is a mature technology. SAF feedstocks like Nuseed Carinata deliver soil carbon benefits and are scalable without impacting agricultural food production to help meet the growing demand.”  

The article sites climate-smart management, and growing carinata using no-till practices and poultry litter as a nitrogen source, for a substantial net soil greenhouse gas (GHG) sink (0.23–0.31 Mt CO2e ha-1 y-1, or 0.24–0.32 Mt CO2e per Mt of seed produced) in the field. 

Additional points from the published article include: 

  • Validation of the soil carbon sequestration potential for carinata, a non-food, non-GMO cover crop, by one of the most studied and sited soil carbon models. The process based DayCent ecosystem model was used to establish initial expectations for the total regional SAF production potential of 1 billion liters and associated soil GHG emissions.  
  • Using data from academic and industry carinata field trials in the region, DayCent was calibrated to reproduce carinata yield, nitrogen response, harvest index, and biomass carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. The resulting model was then used to simulate the integration of carinata every third winter across all 2.1 Mha (approximately 5 million acres) of actively cultivated cropland in the study area. 
  • The model predicted regional average yields of 2.9–3.0 Mt carinata seed per hectare depending on crop management assumptions. That results in the production of more than 2 million Mt of carinata seed annually across the study area, enough to supply approximately one billion liters of SAF.