A Study to Determine if the Biofuel Crop Camelina is a Wildlife Attractant

Airport managers have significant annual operating costs tied to maintaining airport green space that can often exceed hundreds of acres. Typically, turf grass mowing operations generate several recurring costs including labor, fuel, and capital expenditures. In addition to this specific maintenance cost, airport operators are feeling the pain of higher fuel costs to operate the various ground vehicles required to keep the airport operational. To alleviate these financial concerns, one option would be modifying the land use around the airport to support the production of oilseeds and other biomass crops that could be used as a fuel resource. One crop of particular interest is camelina. Camelina is a flowering oilseed that requires very few crop inputs (fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide, etc.). Camelina is unique in that its oil can be used to support the production of either biodiesel for ground vehicles or used in a process to make a renewable aviation fuel. The United State Navy has recently accepted contracts from fuel suppliers that will provide camelina-derived renewable aviation fuel. However, with the possibility of bird strikes and other animals entering the runway space, it is equally important to assess the wildlife intrusion implications of modifying airport land use. This project is similar to the previously funded North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) project lead by Dr. Veal that successfully demonstrated the production of flowering oilseeds along North Carolina highways. This program used canola and sunflowers in rotation to meet aesthetic goals similar to the wildflower beautification program while achieving the maintenance goals of contract mowing operations. In addition to meeting these management goals, the pilot program indicated each mile of roadside enrolled in the program would generate in excess of $200/mile. One advantage of the airports over the right-of-way is the confined nature of the landing holdings would allow for easier contracting with local farmers to complete the operations. Additionally, there are fewer safety concerns with regards to carrying out agricultural operations in close proximity to motorists. However, animal attractiveness to the crop was not scientifically monitored. This project will look to address several questions and concerns raised by aviation stakeholders regarding the potential for crop production at an airport facility. First, various crop rotations will be investigated to determine the costs and feasibility associated with transforming fallow grassland into productive crop land. Secondly, the wildlife impact of this operation will need to be fully assessed to mitigate concerns related to bird-strike and other large mammals (i.e. deer) wandering onto the runway. Determining how much airport land is available and what criteria should be used to select land to include in this type of activity will also completed for North Carolina's airports. Finally, the economics of producing crops on airports and converting oilseeds to biodiesel on site will be assessed to determine the feasibility of the operation. Finally the project will look specifically at the potential of interaction between various forms of wildlife and aviation vehicles.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $353,132
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    North Carolina Department of Transportation

    Research and Development
    1549 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
  • Project Managers:

    Kirby, John

  • Performing Organizations:

    North Carolina State University, Raleigh

    College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
    Department of Soil Sciences, Campus Box 7619
    Raleigh, NC  United States  27695-7619
  • Principal Investigators:

    Chinn, Mari

  • Start Date: 20140815
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170731
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37118

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01537235
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 2015-14
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Sep 5 2014 1:00AM