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Agrisoma Biosciences and Qantas ink first ever "farm to flight" deal

Canada-headed Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., an agricultural company that has commercialised Carinata and Australia-headed air carrier Qantas Group have announced a new partnership that will see Agrisoma work with Australian farmers to grow the Carinata seed, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed that produces high-quality oil ideal for renewable aviation jet fuel and renewable diesel fuel.

Soon Qantas will be flying with Aussie grown Carinata derived biojet fuel (photo courtesy Qantas).

According to a statement, the partnership is the first of its kind in Australia and will see Agrisoma work with Australian farmers to grow Brassica carinata (Carinata) also known as “Ethiopian kale” or “Ethiopian mustard”, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed that produces high-quality oil that the company says is ideal for renewable aviation jet fuel and renewable diesel fuel.

Our long-term goal with this partnership is to grow the crop at a target of 400 000 hectares which will ultimately produce more than 200 million litres of biojet fuel for the airline, said Dr Steven Fabijanski, President and CEO of Agrisoma.

In 2018, to demonstrate the benefits of Agrisoma’s biofuel, Qantas will operate the world’s first biofuel flight between the United States and Australia.

We are constantly looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations but when it comes to using renewable jet fuel, until now, there has not been a locally grown option at the scale we need to power our fleet, said Alison Webster, CEO, Qantas International,

Field trials in Gatton, Queensland and Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated it should do very well in the Australian climate. It is sown either in fallow areas where crops fail or in-between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping.” Rotational or cover cropping improves soil quality, reduces erosion for food crops and provides farmers with additional annual income.

The Australian plan is based upon Agrisoma’s current commercial production of Carinata being grown in the USA and South America supplying the European renewable fuels market and non-GMO animal feed demand. When crushed, the seed also produces a secondary benefit to farmers; a high protein, non-GMO meal for the expanding Australian livestock, dairy and poultry market.

In 2012 Qantas and Jetstar operated Australia’s first biofuel trial flights. Qantas’ A330 Sydney-Adelaide return service and Jetstar’s A320 Melbourne-Hobart return service were both powered with biofuel derived from used cooking oil (split with 50:50 conventional jet fuel) certified for use in commercial aviation.

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