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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

December 2012

Welcome to this edition of EnergyAg Newsbriefs brought to you by the Washington State University Extension Energy Program Library. Please forward this issue to those of your colleagues interested in energy-efficient agricultural practices. Archives of past messages

While every URL in EnergyAg Newsbriefs is checked for accuracy prior to distribution, URLs may change, and servers may temporarily fail to connect to working URLs.


BIOFUELS / BIOMASS

Biomass crops can improve marginal soils

According to Newell Kitchen, USDA soil scientist and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri, biomass crops such as miscanthus and switchgrass can improve marginal soils as well as serving as a source of alternate revenue for farmers. These hardy perennial crops can enhance soil quality by trapping carbon in the soil year-round, and will often yield generously even in drought conditions. For details, see "Biomass Crops Benefit Marginal Soils," published October 10, 2012, by University of Missouri Extension.

Giant cane could replace coal at Oregon plant

Portland General Electric is studying the viability of using Arundo donax (commonly known as giant cane or giant reed) and other biofuel crops to fuel its power plant in Boardman, Oregon. Research is being conducted at Washington State University to determine how best to prepare the plant material, but concerns remain, such as the potential for Arundo donax to become an invasive weed. To learn more, read "Portland General Electric Tests Biofuel Options to Replace Coal at Boardman Plant," published by the Associated Press (AP) and appearing December 3, 2012, at OregonLive.com, or "'Giant Reed' Arundo donax – Miracle Biofuel or Invasive Menace?" published by AP and appearing November 28, 2012 on the same website.

DAIRY

Organic dairy more valuable for economy

A November 2012 report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Cream of the Crop: The Economic Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms," calculates the economic value of organic milk production and finds that organic dairies provide more economic opportunity overall and generate more jobs in rural communities than conventional dairies. The full report or an executive summary are available on the Union of Concerned Scientists website.

Energy audits for Idaho dairies

An awareness effort being conducted by the Industrial Relations committee of the Idaho Dairymen's Association (ID) in conjunction with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the USDA, EnSave, and others will help Idaho dairies save energy by providing information and funding for farm energy audits. To learn more, read "IDA Helps Producers Cut Farm Energy Costs and Use," published November 27, 2012, at AgWeekly.com.

RESEARCH

Climate change, agriculture, and food security

Research performed by the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS), in conjunction with a policy brief by the same organization, analyzes the extent to which global agriculture contributes to planetary greenhouse gas emissions, and studies the potential effect of climate change on the future geographic distribution of crops and livestock. An October 31, 2012, press release from CCAFS provides information and links.

Biochar's effect on natural habitats questioned

Studies by Iowa State University are examining the effects of biochar on natural environments, after some data showed that levels of algae and mycorrhizae were reduced by the carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance. Further studies are needed to ensure proper management when applying the material to farm fields. To learn more, read "Research Looks at Effects of Biochar on Prairies," published November 27, 2012, on the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture website.

RESOURCES

Webinar: Climate change impact on PNW agriculture

An archive of a webinar hosted November 1, 2012, by the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSNAR), What Do We Currently Know about the Impacts of Climate Change on Pacific Northwest Cropland Agriculture? is now available for viewing. A companion reference sheet is also available, and contains a bibliography of relevant resources.

Farm energy webinars

Between January and March, 2012, the University of Wisconsin will present a series of farm energy webinars on the topics of irrigation, animal housing, greenhouses, grain drying, milk production, and field crop production. The webinars are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

EVENTS AND TRAININGS

Cascadia Grains Conference
January 12, 2013, Tacoma, Washington
The Cascadia Grains Conference will bring together farmers, processors and end-users, as well as investors, brokers and local government officials to support rebuilding a grain economy west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia through three value-added enterprises: brewing and distilling, poultry and livestock feed, and artisan baking. This conference is presented by the Pierce County and Thurston County Washington State University (WSU) Extension offices. It was organized to augment the efforts of the Kneading Conference West held at WSU Mount Vernon in September.

South Sound Food Summit
January 17, 2013, Tacoma, Washington
The South Sound Food Summit is the premier event for those dedicated to the improvement of the South Puget Sound food system. This conference will inform, organize, connect and support local community efforts to optimize the growing demand for local, fresh, healthy food, both for today and for our future. This forum provides a valuable opportunity for businesses and organizations to build connections and engage with these key food system stakeholders, including consumers, students, policy makers, buyers, farmers and food producers.  Don't miss this ground floor opportunity to join us as we work to build a strong, vibrant local food system for all.

Harvesting Clean Energy 2013
January 27-29, Corvallis, Oregon
Harvesting Clean Energy is the premier event for those dedicated to the improvement of the South Puget Sound food system. This conference will inform, organize, connect and support local community efforts to optimize the growing demand for local, fresh, healthy food, both for today and for our future. This forum provides a valuable opportunity for businesses and organizations to build connections and engage with these key food system stakeholders, including consumers, students, policy makers, buyers, farmers and food producers.  Don't miss this ground floor opportunity to join us as we work to build a strong, vibrant local food system for all.

AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit NW
February 19, 2012, Portland, Oregon
Focusing on the Pacific Northwest, the AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit – Northwest provides a comprehensive and timely analysis of current and near-term market conditions, opportunities and the latest on siting, transmission expansion and grid operations issues. This is a can't-miss event whether you are making investment decisions to enter this market, or are already involved in Western U.S. wind project development and need to learn more.  Feature sessions include a spotlight on recently built wind projects and business development activity, as well as a state policy roundtable with legislators and regulators on what's hot in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.


Want to Contribute? If you have information on events, publications, or other ag-related topics that you would like mentioned in an upcoming issue of EnergyAg Newsbriefs, please contact Talia Mathews at mathewst@energy.wsu.edu.