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cover crop, biofuel, sustainable aviation fuel, gene-editing, pennycress


Millions of hectares of cover crops are planted in the U.S. and European Union to manage soil erosion, soil fertility, water quality, weeds, and climate change. Although only a small percentage of cover crops are harvested, the growing cover crop planting area provides a new biomass source to the biofuel industry to produce bioenergy. Oilseed crops such as rapeseed, sunflower, and soybean are commodities and have been used to produce biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Other cover crops such as cereal rye, clover, and alfalfa, have been tested on small or pilot scales to produce cellulosic ethanol, biogas, syngas, bio-oil, and SAF. Given the various biofuel products and pathways, this review aimed to provide a comprehensive comparison of biofuel yield from different cover crops and an overview of the technologies that have been employed to improve biofuel yield. It was envisioned that gene-editing tools might be revolutionary to the biofuel industry, the work on cover crop supply chain will be critical for system scaleup, and high-tolerant technologies likely will be needed to handle the high compositional heterogeneity and variability of cover crop biomass for biofuel.

Funding Source

This study was funded by the USDA-NIFA NLGCA Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program (Award number: 2020-70001-31279).




First published in Fermentation 2023, 9(10), 912;

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (