Pennycress as a cash crop

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:20 AM CST
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(25 News Now) - Did you know that a common weed is now a cash crop? Let’s learn more with Derek Martin in Logan County as he works with an experimental crop - pennycress - to see its value and benefits as a biofuel.

We’ve been working with pennycress/covercress for about four, five years now. There’s kind of a multi-faceted benefit to the covercress: The first one is it’s going down the path of a cash cover crop as we get into soil health and regenerative farming and that’s great to have another alternative source for that.

On the farmer side of it you know we can capture some revenue -- planting as a cover crop and harvesting in the spring and then the end user will crush it. They kind of bred it to have the same oil content as canola and so the by-product will be used as an alternative fuel source for the future.

How did you decide that this was a crop you wanted to try and investigate? A lot of farmers say you know what I don’t have enough time to put the value and energy of their time into this -- experimental crop because you have to pay attention to it more so than you would possibly corn and soybeans.

Yes, no that’s exactly right. Change is hard for a lot of people -- my brother Doug I farm with, we’ve always been very responsive to change and finding alternative things on our farm. We’re big into soil health and the cover crop things already so that was already a head start for us and then if you look at the tough economic times we’ve had in agriculture you know anytime you can hopefully generate another source of revenue we’re always looking at that and so you combine covercress in with that and it’s a cover crop and revenue thing it was an easy fit for our operation to give it a shot.

Doug and I are sixth or seventh-generation farmers here in Logan County. Agriculture is here to stay but in order for it to be sustainable we’re going to have to be willing to change to do things and covercress is an example of this change -- towards a step, towards the future not only for the citizens of this country but for us as well those in production agriculture.