The oilseed, brassica carinata, does not produce an edible oil, but has found a market in the biodiesel and bio-jet fuel sector. However, the crush also produces a digestible, protein by-product, said Steven Fabijanski, president and CEO of the Quebec-based company.
The protein product generated offers a similar level of protein to soybean meal, and less fiber than canola meal, he said. It was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in feed for beef cattle in the US.
“We did the usual submission a few years ago where we sent the data package to the FDA,” he told FeedNavigator. “It is approved in Canada as well and in Europe we’re registered as a feed ingredient.”
The company has also developed technology applied during the crushing process that removes some of the anti-nutritional factors, thus rendering the product more digestible, he said.
Use in feed
Feeding trials also have been conducted to examine the protein ingredient’s use in feed for dairy cattle, poultry and aquafeed, said Fabijanski.
“Right now we’re looking at ruminants and dairy is an industry that we’re working on,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of work on dairy because canola is an interesting meal for the dairy industry – we’ve done studies there through to testing the milk and that’s being compiled for further approvals and [we’ve been] substituting for bean rations in the poultry [feed].”
The company also has been working with partners at South Dakota State University to test it as a product in aquafeeds, he said.
“We’re working as hard as we can, and we hope there will be less red tape in Washington and we’ll be able to get some of these things [regulatory approval applications] through and get the approvals,” said Fabijanski. “The approvals in Europe are different – we believe we’ll be looking at dairy and poultry – it’s happening now, we are in the commercial sales cycle there now.”
Development process and market potential
Fabijanski said cultivation of the oilseed, brassica carinata, may be a good fit for rotating crop production systems, growth in dryland systems or during the winter: “It’s a hardy and tough crop – it does well where other crops can’t and it grows where canola won’t grow and soybean doesn’t like,” he said.
In addition to being tolerant of extreme conditions, the plant carries resistance to some of the diseases seen in soybeans and canola, he said.
“We’ve been able to grow in Florida in the winter as a rotation crop,” he said. “We’ve been able to find some unique opportunities in terms of acres, and as an add on to conventional farming rotations so we’re not competing with main cash crops, but as a second crop.”
The company also is considering production options in areas like North and South Dakota, Montana, Southern Canada or options to grow it as a winter crop in southern states like Georgia and Alabama or in Latin America, he said.
About 50,000 acres are currently under cultivation in the US and in parts of South America, but that production is expected to serve the European market, said Fabijanski. “In Europe they’re really focused on the non-gmo piece – we have a good fit there,” he added.
The protein meal offers another option for producers looking for a product that has not been not genetically engineered, he said.
“The fact that we’re non-gmo does have some advantages in certain markets in some places in the US it is more of an issue in Europe,” he said.
The expectation is that as the protein by-product becomes more widely known, there will be market expansion in the US, he said.
Emissions and sustainability
The oilseed crop also has been found to generate a smaller carbon footprint to other feed crops when inputs and other factors are considered, said Fabijanski.
In livestock production, some of the penalties for carbon come from the growth of the feed components, he said. Use of the by-product could help reduce that.
Assessment of dietary use on ruminant greenhouse gas production is ongoing, he said.
In addition to the consideration of the plant’s carbon footprint, the product also has obtained a certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, said Fabijanski. That organization aims to support production of sustainable biomaterials, biofuels and biomass products.