PENNYCRESS - A Unique Energy Crop

Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) is a non-edible crop in the mustard family of plants. When grown, it produces a number of small seeds, which can be harvested by farmers and crushed using specialized presses. When pressed, Pennycress seeds yield twice as much oil as soybeans, and the oil produced has numerous positive properties.

Pennycress seed is inexpensive and easy to grow as an energy cover crop.  Farmers harrow their fields, broadcast the seeds, and then let it grow. It is a cold-weather crop, suited for Michigan's and the Midwest's over-winter crop season, and does not displace food crops or wildlife. Growing Pennycress has been shown to control pests, like nematodes, and help reduce nitrogen runoff. Pennycress can also help keep deer and birds out of a farmer's fields.

Farmers growing Pennycress can effectively increase farm profits up to 50% by growing Pennycress as an overwinter crop. This essentially adds a third growing season to the farm. Pennycress is ready to harvest in the spring after planting, typically yielding anywhere from 45 to 50 bushels per acre. No special equipment is necessary; standard combine harvesters and other conventional farming equipment is enough to get the job done.

Once harvested, an acre of Pennycress can be crushed to produce almost 100 gallons of oil, which can be refined into 100 gallons of biodiesel. This makes it a highly efficient source of biodiesel with superior qualities like improved cold-weather performance. Once processed into oil, the Pennycress "cake or meal" can be collected and sold as biomass for alternative energy sources or as a herbicide which makes it an overall very green process.

Compared to other feedstock oils, which range from corn and soybeans to grease and animal renderings, Pennycress oil has proven to be increasingly price competitive. Pennycress costs less per bushel because it is not sold for food as are other feedstock oils. Pennycress is less expensive and easier to grow. It requires no additional fertilizer or nutrients. Due to Pennycress' overwinter growing period, biodiesel made from Pennycress exhibits enhanced cold weather performance characteristics over biodiesel from other feedstocks. This makes Pennycress a superior choice for biodiesel producers when choosing a feedstock, and places Metro Ag ahead of the curve of other producers who may use corn or canola oil.

Copyright © 2017 by Metro Ag Energy, Inc.