A partnership between global agribusiness giant Bunge and US pennycress start-up company CoverCress Inc (CCI) has announced the launch of a new oilseed crop.

The agreement establishes a long-term commercial relationship between the two companies and supports the expansion of CCI’s CoverCress technology, a new winter oilseed crop, according to the 26 April statement.

By using breeding and gene editing, CCI converted field pennycress, a winter annual weed, into the CoverCress crop that fits into existing corn and soyabean rotations, the companies said.

Adding a new, marketable crop into rotation on existing land during winter can provide farmers with additional revenue while also providing cover, reducing nitrogen loss and improving overall soil health, according to the companies.

“Bunge is pleased to expand our relationship with CCI to continue to develop next generation lower carbon feedstocks, which will also help meet the growing demand for renewable fuels. We believe rotational cover crops will play a key role in our strategy in connection with our recently announced partnership with Chevron,” Bunge CEO Greg Heckman said.

Bunge and leading US energy company Chevron announced a joint venture on 2 May to produce feedstock to supply the renewable fuel industry with Bunge and Chevron both acquiring an ownership stake in CCI prior to the announcement.

The new company, Bunge Chevron Ag Renewables, would develop renewable fuel feedstocks, the companies said, with Bunge contributing its experience in oilseed processing and farmer relationships and Chevron contributing fuel manufacturing and marketing services.

Under the commercial partnership between CCI and Bunge, CCI would supply CoverCress grain produced under contract with farmers to Bunge for processing, while the strategic partnerships between Chevron, Bunge and CCI would create a dedicated farm-to-fuel supply chain for the low carbon intensity oil feedstock produced from CoverCress grain, the companies said.

“Farmers are the key to enabling our CoverCress technology to make a difference to lowering the carbon intensity of diesel and jet fuel,” CCI’s CEO Mike DeCamp said.