Camelina more drought tolerant than canola, Canadian research team confirms

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Camelina more drought tolerant than canola, Canadian research team confirms

A new Canadian study confirms earlier research suggesting that camelina is more drought resistant than canola – paving the way for more prairie farmers to introduce the low-input oilseed into their regular rotations.

“These results suggest that camelina is more tolerant to drought stress and potentially has greater adaptability to dryland production than canola,” said researchers Libiao Gao, Claude D. Caldwell and Yunfei Jiang.

Their study entitled Photosynthesis and Growth of Camelina and Canola in Response to Water Deficit and Applied Nitrogen was published in the Journal Crop Science and published online for the first time in January 2018.

Basically, the research project examined the relationship between nitrogen fertilizer and water availability and found that camelina performed better under water-deficit conditions than canola using a variety of key plant growth markers. Canola is the most common oilseed crop in Canada and in certain areas in the northern Great Plains of the United States. Camelina is a rediscovered high value oilseed crop in North America, with favorable agronomic traits and specialty oil characteristics.

Camelina is a low-input crop needing less chemical input, such as nitrogen and pesticides. The Canadian team from Dalhousie University quoted a 2015 SUSA study that suggested camelina is more adaptive to drought conditions than canola and that this was confirmed in a 2017 California study that also observed camelina showing a greater drought tolerance than canola. However, no obvious differences in drought tolerance were seen between camelina and canola in a field tested in Nebraska. So the Canadian test set out to compare the photosynthesis rate and transpiration rates of camelina and canola along with stomatal conductance and shoot and root biomass accumulation for the two crops.

Among the findings: the shoot/root ratio was more responsive to applied nitrogen in camelina, whereas applied nitrogen did not affect the shoot/root ratio in canola. Under drought conditions, camelina maintained a higher shoot/root ratio than canola. “These results suggest that camelina is more tolerant to drought stress and potentially has greater adaptability to dryland production than canola,” the study concluded. An abstract of the study is located here and also in our Smart Earth Seeds library for our Members.