Is there a way for farmers to add a new crop to the rotation and put more money in their pockets? CoverCress has advocated that idea with its winter oilseed and Bayer is boosting its investment in the company to build the market.
Bayer has acquired 65% majority ownership in CoverCress and has entered an agreement with Bunge and Chevron U.S.A. for the rest. Bunge and Chevron will own the other 35% of CoverCress, producer of a rotational cash crop that combines grain production with the benefits of a cover crop without displacing other harvests.
The interest lies in the oil extracted from CoverCress grain which is designed to lower the carbon intensity score and can be made into renewable diesel with Bunge’s expertise in oilseed process and Chevron’s proficiency in fuels manufacturing, according to a media announcement. The farm-to-fuel supply chain represented by CCI, Bayer, Bunge and Chevron could give corn and soybean growers another revenue outlet by providing a potential biofuel product combined with a high-protein meal for animal feed.
Rodrigo Santos, member of the board of management at Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division comments in a media announcement: “CoverCress is exciting because it has the potential to become an important course of biofuel production as a new harvested rotational crop, while giving growers an innovative option to continue effective stewardship of their land and soil quality acting as a cover crop.”
Santos adds that Bayer is committed to decarbonizing agriculture and helping farmers become more sustainable through “game-changing products and solutions that can impact climate change. This investment and collaboration between industry leaders is another proof point for our efforts.”
CoverCress Inc. which will continue to operate as an independent entity has developed CoverCress as a unique crop whose grain is a lower carbon, low-input source of fuel and feed. “Since our founding in 2013 we have actively sought – and benefitted from – scientific, operational and financial support from our academic and strategic partners,” says Mike DeCamp, CEO and president of CCI. “Our long-standing strategic partnership with Bayer and our more recent strategic partnerships with Bunge and Chevron have provided us with access to expertise and capital that positions CCI very well for future success.”
Greg Heckman, Bunge CEO, notes that connecting the full value chain – from seed development to end consumer – is an important step to bringing the crop to market at scale. “We look forward to helping meet the growing demand for renewable fuels with this next generation lower carbon feedstock,” he says.
As for Chevron, Mark Nelson, executive vice president for Downstream & Chemicals, says “Chevron is seeking to create innovative renewable fuel feedstocks by collaborating with America’s farmers. We are excited to work with Bayer and Bunge to accelerate the adoption of CoverCress, which we believe can ultimately be used to help supply the U.S. transportation system with lower lifecycle carbon intensity fuels.
CCI has been a portfolio company of Leaps by Bayer, the impact investment arm of Bayer for the past seven years.
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