A Study to Determine if the Biofuel Crop Camelina is a Wildlife Attractant (Phase II)

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 challenge 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 relatively 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 States 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 proposed continuation project is similar to the previously funded North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) project lead by Dr. Matthew 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 allows 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 has not been scientifically monitored and documented. This proposed work builds on lessons learned from camelina crop production and wildlife survey efforts over two growing seasons and will continue to address several questions and concerns raised by aviation stakeholders regarding the potential for alternative crop production at an airport facility. The project team's initial crop production efforts have shown promise in identifying land characteristics needed for a good crop stand of camelina. With a successful crop this past year (2015-16), additional observations are needed to make reasonable assessments regarding wildlife attractiveness. In addition, further examination of crop production management including, site preparation and inputs is needed to support development of sustainable production methods. As part of this next phase of the camelina airport project, 1) crop rotations, tillage practices and planting time will be investigated to determine the costs and feasibility associated with transforming fallow grassland into productive crop land and; 2) the wildlife impact of this operation will 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 be 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.


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    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $309862
    • 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: 20170801
    • Expected Completion Date: 20191231
    • Actual Completion Date: 20191231

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01644135
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
    • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Aug 28 2017 9:34AM