Qantas and Agrisoma expect to work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020. The longer-term strategic goal of the partnership is to grow 400,000 hectares of carinata which would yield over 200 million litres of bio-jet fuel each year.
“Qantas’ partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jet fuel industry in Australia – it is a project we are really proud to be part of as we look at ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations,” said Alison Webster, Qantas International CEO.
Webster said the historic flight and the partnership mark the first step in developing an aviation biofuel supply in Australia.
“Our work with Agrisoma will enable Australian farmers to start growing today for the country’s biofuel needs of the future. The trans-Pacific biofuel flight was a demonstration of what can be achieved locally,” Webster added.
Carinita is a ‘drop-in’ crop and requires no specialized production or processing techniques. It is water efficient and The University of Queensland field trials in Gatton, Queensland, and in Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated it should do very well in the Australian climate.
“The 2017 trials in Queensland and South Australia demonstrated that carinata can be grown successfully in Australia. Expanding the trials in 2018 will begin the scale-up process to commercial production in the years ahead,” said Dr. van Herwaarden, researcher at the University of Queensland.
Carinita is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping”. Rotational or break-crops improves soil quality, reduces erosion for food crops and provides farmers with additional annual income.
This year Agrisoma’s second phase of carinata research and development is set to optimize the crop’s agronomic performance, and pre-commercial activities are anticipated as early as 2019.
“Carinata is grown and harvested much like canola. With Nuseed we have a seed distribution partner with agronomic knowledge, connection and commitment to Australian growers, plus expertise in production from grower to processor,” said Agrisoma CEO Steve Fabijanski. “Nuseed is the canola leader and an ideal distribution partner in Australia, they also have a global presence in other key regions.”
The Agrisoma carinata distribution letter of intent complements Nuseed’s own research and development programs for their three core crops. “Plant traits have amazing potential to address many critical issues like improved nutrition, sustainability, and energy. We are working globally to realize this potential through strategic partnerships and our own canola, sorghum and sunflower R&D programs,” says Nuseed Global Business Leader Brent Javra.
Fabijanski pointed out carinata-based fuel offers a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Renewable jet fuel is chemically equivalent to, and meets, the same technical, performance and safety standards as conventional jet fuel.