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Camelina Evaluation for Soil Amendment

Started: May, 2009 Ended: November, 2009 Project ID #4W2652 Status: Completed


The objective of this project is to explore the potential uses of Camelina meal (Camelina sativa) for roadside applications, incorporated as a soil amendment or spread topically, to enhance native vegetation establishment and growth for highway reclamation projects.


Many people throughout Montana and the United States wish to see increased biodiesel production and consumption. The reasons for this are many, but include: partly controlling agricultural production costs; the possibility of replacing, in part, petroleum based diesel as a fuel for agriculture, transportation, and industry, reducing America’s dependence on imported petroleum, improving the quality of the environment, increasing value-added agriculture opportunities, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, increased use of a fuel that can be grown, produced, and consumed within the United States, and more. Camelina is a member of the mustard family, and is being used in Montana as a crop for biodiesel fuel production. The process of extracting the oil, from oilseeds, to obtain biodiesel feedstock involves crushing the seed. Upon crushing the seed, the oil is collected and the remaining mass that remains is the oilseed meal. Current methods of biodiesel production result in tons of this oilseed meal as a co-product. Increases in Camelina as a biodiesel production feedstock will result in increased production of the meal as a co-product as well. There is little commercial value in the meal at this time. The only use that has been approved is using it as an additive, up to 10%, for chicken feed (the oil is high in omega-3) to increase the omega-3 in eggs. Currently, this is only allowable in Montana. This project is exploring potential uses of Camelina meal for roadside applications to enhance native vegetation establishment and growth. This is based on intriguing chemical and physical properties of the meal, including: * Its N: P: K ratio (6:1:1) is similar to commercial lawn fertilizer (3:1:1), so it could be useful for the roadside vegetation establishment of native grasses if the nitrogen is available for plant growth. *It absorbs from 8 to 10 times its volume in water. This may be helpful as a soil amendment to retain moisture for vegetative growth. It also may have applications to capture polluted runoff so it does not enter surface water adjacent to roads. *It is mucilaginous (glue-like) so it may be useful as a compost blanket tackifier to cover native plant seedings at highway reclamation sites or as a dust suppressant. *It has allelopathic properties (releasing chemicals actively or passively into the environment that are harmful to other plants) that may serve to suppress the establishment of weedy annuals.


  • Rob Ament - PI

  • Alice Pilgeram - Main External Contact

Sponsors & Partners

  • Montana State University Sponsor
  • Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Sponsor
  • Montana Department of Environmental Quality Partner

Part of: Road Ecology

Project Tagged In: compost, reclamation, native plants

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