The move follows the January 2015 authorization by the CFIA for a cold-pressed non-solvent extracted camelina meal for broiler chickens at up to 12% inclusion.
The oilseed meal offers a terrestrial source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for feed, said Jack Grushcow, founder and CEO of Smart Earth Seeds, a company that has been involved in camelina production and breeding for many years.
When added to layer hen diets, he said it can allow producers to make a claim about fatty acid enrichment in the eggs generated.
“We think there’s a big opportunity there," Grushcow told us.
A feeding trial undertaken by researchers based at Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and the University of Alberta saw 288 layer hens fed diets containing from 0 to 25% expeller-pressed camelina meal.
Eggs were then tested for fatty acid profile, the researchers reported. The study showed a dose-related rise in polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and a superior balance of omega-3:omega-6 fatty acids in the eggs.
Dairy cattle feed inclusion
Smart Earth Seeds is also working to have the meal approved for use in a dairy cattle ration and for use in feed for salmonid fish species, said Grushcow.
His company has been developing new strains of camelina for testing and potential production for about 15 years.
“Camelina is an old crop, but it’s only had the benefit of modern breeding in the last 15-20 years,” he said.
The company has long worked on improving the fatty acid profile of camelina and on producing a larger seed size, he said. “The advantage of a larger seed is you can plant it a bit deeper, it tends to establish better and also it combines better, so you lose less and it crushes better,” he added.
The firm is also working to develop a plant with reduced levels of glucosinolates or anti-nutrient properties, he said. But commercialization of that variety is predicted to be several years away.
“One of the things that we’ve developed in the crop is herbicide resistance,” said Grushcow. “We used mutagenesis and that’s a non-GMO.”
“I’m a huge believer in GMO technology, but a lot of our customers are interested in non-GMO sources for feed,” he said.
Providing a non-biotech crop also means there can be easier approval in places like the US and Europe, he added.
Additionally, he said some of the traits that have made the plant an interesting one to develop include frost resistance and drought tolerance and the fact it has a shorter growing period than canola.
The crop can be grown with low inputs on marginal land.
“Up until now we’ve concentrated most of our efforts in Canada, but, in 2017, we’ll be contracting [with growers] in both North Dakota and Montana,” said Grushcow.
The company is also set to be a part of European Union funded Horizon 2020 research project and is currently selecting plant cultivars for production in several countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Greece, he said.