A series of meetings with farmers will be held to explain the role they can play in a proposed new plant that would create biofuel by extracting oil from the seeds of pennycress.
Galesburg's Entrepreneur, Business and Industry Network is collaborating on the project with Pennycress Energy Company, LLC.
EBI Global Strategies Director Gary Camarano said the company is seeking farmers willing to have the cover crop planted on their land.
“The company is going to provide the seed, do the planting, provide funds to do the harvesting and then buy the seeds from the farmer,” Camarano said.
A schedule for the meetings has not been set. Camarano anticipated they will be held throughout the region beginning in July.
“Wherever we need to go, we'll go to have these meetings,” Camarano said. “We'll be taking this to the people that we want to reach.”
Researchers from Western Illinois University and the USDA are working to develop pennycress seeds that produce higher yields.
Camarano said pennycress won't compete against food crops because it's planted in the fall and harvested before summer crops are planted.
“It's actually like adding a second shift to a factory,” Camarano said. “Land that might remain dormant during the winter is now being used to grow pennycress. Pennycress is a cover crop preventing soil erosion, nutrient loss, things like that.”
Camarano hopes Pennycress Energy will build its seed crushing plant in Galesburg or another location in the immediate region. He said the project could create more jobs for the area and more income for farmers while reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.