A St. Louis startup agriculture company says it’s developed a cover crop that will eventually generate income for Iowa and other Midwest farmers while helping mitigate climate change.
CoverCress is attracting investment from agriculture industry heavy-hitters including Bunge and Bayer, and plans to make its “cash cover crop” available on limited acreage in Illinois this fall before expanding to commercial-scale acreage next year.
Farmers plant cover crops like cereal rye and oats near the fall corn harvest, putting roots in the ground to anchor the soil and nutrients during winter and spring, then harvest it in May before soybeans are planted. Cover crops also help sequester carbon in the soil, preventing it from combining with oxygen and adding to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
What they don’t do, generally, is provide farmers an easily saleable crop. But CoverCress, both the name of the company and the crop, aims to bridge that gap. Derived from field pennycress, a native winter annual, it produces oil seed that can be harvested and processed to produce what the company says is a “low-carbon intensity oil” that “represents a new scalable source of material for producing fuels like renewable diesel, biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel.” READ MORE