Camelina (Camelina sativa L. Crantz) under low-input management systems in northern Italy: yields, chemical characterization and environmental sustainability
Camelina can be considered a valuable crop for bio-based products and biofuels, but, to date, there are still many uninvestigated aspects concerning the optimization of its agricultural management and its environmental impact. Consequently, a low-input camelina cultivation has been realized, in northern Italy environment, through a 4-year camelina-wheat rotation in open field. In these conditions, camelina was grown as winter crop. Camelina reached, over the years, a variable (CV=28%) mean seed yield of 0.82 Mg ha-1. This notwithstanding, the oil content - 39.17% (CV=3%) - and its related quality were rather stable, reaching an oil yield of 320 kg ha-1 particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acid. The low input cultivation system here adopted implied an energy ratio (output energy/input energy) of 4 and a 30% decrease in Global Warming Potential per hectare, compared to the standard value reported by the European Renewable Energy Directive for sunflower, reducing, at the same time, other relevant environmental burdens. However, due to its relatively low oil production, the full use of all camelina co-products should be considered in order to fulfill the sustainability requirements for European jet fuel production. In fact, stability of yields and quality of oil, oilcake and straws makes low-input camelina eligible for many other novel green chemistry applications.
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