Finnish forestry giant UPM’s biofuels division UPM Biofuels has begun to develop a new feedstock concept based on Brassica carinata grown as a sequential crop in South America.

Carinata, also known as Ethiopian rape or Ethiopian mustard, is a relative of the rapeseed plant and a non-edible oil that UPM considered suitable for use as a biofuel feedstock and animal feed protein.

The sequential cropping period would allow contract farmers to put agricultural land into use outside their main cultivation period, mostly during the winter, without compromising food production, UPM said in a statement on 28 June.

Using this approach would not cause land use change and would benefit farmers by preventing erosion, improving soil quality and providing additional income during the winter months when the farmers have no productive use for their fields.

Petri Kukkonen, head of UPM Biofuels Development, said sustainable land use was one of the company’s core competencies.

“We are developing this sequential cropping concept with Carinata as it provides new feedstock solutions for low carbon biofuels without compromising existing food production,” he said.

UPM has begun growing and testing Carinata with third party farmers in Uruguay and Brazil and had also signed a long-term agreement with Canadian Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., which utilises non-GMO technologies to improve crops.

Carinata-based biofuels reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 70% compared to fossil fuels.

The plant was used by Agrisoma and Applied Research Associates to produce the bio jet fuel that fuelled the world’s first 100% biofuel-powered flight from Ottawa, Canada, to Montreal and back in November 2012.