Western Illinois University (WIU) announces kickoff of IPREFER Coordinated Agriculture Project: Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience

September 19, 2019 – WIU today announced that, as the leading institution of the IPREFER project, it has received $10 M from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a 5-year project aimed at commercializing pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) as a winter-cover cash crop for the midwest’s corn belt farmers. Dr. Win Phippen of WIU, who has been a leading researcher on pennycress for many years, will be the Project Director.

The IPREFER Project also includes researchers from Illinois State University, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota, as well as the engagement of CoverCress, Inc., a commercial partner from St. Louis, MO. The intent of the project will be to continue the breeding, agronomic development, supply chain development, extension and outreach necessary to allow pennycress to be commercially launched in the 2022 timeframe. Conservative projections show that this crop could introduce an additional 2 B gpy of seed-oil for industrial markets, with a focus on sustainable aviation fuel production, as well as significant amounts of high-protein animal feed and other co-products.

WIU’s announcement can be found here and here and the IPREFER project’s efforts can be followed here.

NIFA announced on 12Sep the winners of this year’s allocation of $77.8M for eight CAPs focused on Sustainable Agricultural Practices.

Steve Csonka, Executive Director of CAAFI, adds, “Since my first exposure to this crop in 2010, I have been an advocate for the promise of pennycress to sustainably deliver incremental seed-oil, animal feed, and environmental services to farmers in the Midwest, so it is really fulfilling to see this effort move forward. CAAFI has agreed to participate in the program as an Advisory Board member and commercialization collaborator, and we look forward to significant success.”

There may be opportunities for other funding institutions to enjoin this effort – contact Win Phippen at WIU for more information.

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