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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

December 2013

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

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

Direct Seed & Oilseed Cropping Systems 2014 Conference: “Covering New Ground”
January 20-24, 2014, Kennewick, Washington

The Biofuels Cropping Systems Research and Extension project at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association have come together to organize and host a conference in 2014. Oilseed and direct seed cropping systems have many complementary topics and synergies. The 2014 Oilseed and Direct Seed Conference, “Covering New Ground,” will provide a unique opportunity to learn from researchers, agronomists, consultants, and your peers, and to connect and network with agriculture-related businesses, seed companies, co-ops, and support services. Sponsorships are still available; see registration link and scroll down for contact information.

BIOFUELS/BIOMASS

Odessa biodiesel plant under new ownership

TransMessis Columbia Plateau, a central Washington biodiesel company, will take over the biodiesel plant in Odessa, Washington, formerly run by Inland Empire Oilseeds, LLC. The plant is expected to be up and running by the end of November 2013, and should reach full production within six months. The plant will manufacture biodiesel out of canola seed, and has the goal of obtaining as much of the canola as possible from local sources. To learn more, read “New Tenant Moves into Biodiesel Plant,” published November 21, 2013, in Capital Press.

Urban food and yard waste helps local farmers

Closing the Loop on Garbage, Local Farms,” published November 13, 2013, by Washington State University CAHNRS News, describes the benefits local farmers derive from the collection and composting of urban yard and food waste in King and Snohomish Counties. Research shows that compost from municipal sources has a positive impact on plant growth and yields. Additionally, this valuable resource is becoming more available at a time when the supply of manure from dairy farms is decreasing.

Research examines the potential of biogas

Ongoing research at Michigan State University (MSU) is investigating the current and potential role of biogas for the development of a clean energy economy. MSU professor Wolfgang Bauer, the program’s director, discusses the untapped opportunity for U.S. biogas expansion in “Biogas Power Plants: Renewable Energy-Producers of the Future,” published November 13, 2013, in MSU Today.

Poplar as a short-rotation energy crop

A recording of a webinar hosted by Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest on November 20, 2013, Growing Green Energy: Poplar as a Short-Rotation Energy Crop, is available at hardwoodbiofuels.org. Learn about the fastest growing tree in the temperate zone, and why it has been identified as one of the country’s most important feedstocks for the renewable transportation fuels industry. This webinar is the first in a series; upcoming webinars, including one on December 11, 2013, will be announced at http://hardwoodbiofuels.org/events/ (or see Events, Trainings, and Webinars section below).

CLIMATE CHANGE

Greenhouse gases from conventional vs. organic systems

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Yields from Organic and Conventional Systems” was published in the November/December 2013 issue of Agricultural Research. It describes a USDA Agricultural Research Service study comparing the ecological footprint of conventional vs. organic cropping systems. Due to the complex interplay between yield, inputs, and emissions, organic systems do not necessarily yield less carbon dioxide per unit of food than conventional systems.

U.S. may release a lot more methane than we thought

A study published November 25, 2013, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Anthropogenic Emissions of Methane in the United States” (membership or fee required for download), found that current estimates of the quantity of methane being released into the atmosphere from U.S. sources may be highly inaccurate. The study recommends that the numbers be carefully revised so that appropriate mitigation strategies can be developed. A summary of the research is available in “Methane Emissions 50 Percent Higher than Reported, Study Shows,” published November 26, 2013, at CBSNews.com.

RESOURCES

Conference materials from Women in Agriculture conference

Conference materials are now available online from the 4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture, held November 6-8, 2013. Descriptions, handouts, slideshows, and links from workshops on a wide variety of topics are available to download.

Website covers legal issues of direct marketing

The Drake University Agricultural Law Center recently developed a website, DirectMarketersForum.org, which serves as a new, improved, more comprehensive online version of the Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing, originally published in 1999. This valuable resource contains information for farmers who sell directly to consumers, and covers licensing, marketing, land use, insurance, state-by-state contacts, and more. Further information about the new website can be found in “Legal Guide for Direct Marketing of Farm Products Is Now Online,” published November 26, 2013 in the Western Farmer-Stockman.

POLICY AND LEGISLATION

USDA support for local and regional food systems

A USDA fact sheet, “Strengthening New Market Opportunities in Local and Regional Food Systems,” was made available November 19, 2013, on the USDA website. It provides a detailed description of USDA support for market opportunities in local and regional farm systems since the initiation of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative in 2009. The article also links to an audio press conference on the same topic attended by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

EVENTS, TRAININGS, AND WEBINARS

AHB Wednesday Webinar: Assessing the Economic and Environmental Impacts of Sustainably Produced Poplar-Based Biofuels
December 11, 2013, 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM PST

Sustainability assessment is a major objective of the Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) research program. Producing fuels from poplar wood grown on bioenergy farms will be a large industrial system that must be economically viable and environmentally sound to be sustainable. This webinar, by Rick Gustafson, Erik Budsberg, and Jordan Crawford of the University of Washington, will provide an overview of how the Advanced Hardwoods Biofuels (AHB) team is making the production of hardwood biofuels sustainable. The focus will include research on Life Cycle Analysis of making jet fuel from poplar feedstock.

Cascadia Grains Conference
January 11, 2014, Tacoma, Washington

The Cascadia Grains Conference brings 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, animal feed, as well as baking and other food uses. This conference is presented by the Washington State University in partnership with Oregon State University.

Direct Seed & Oilseed Cropping Systems 2014 Conference: “Covering New Ground”
January 20-24, 2014, Kennewick, Washington

The Biofuels Cropping Systems Research and Extension project at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association have come together to organize and host a conference in 2014. This year’s conference will provide a unique opportunity to learn from researchers, agronomists, consultants, and your peers, and to connect and network with agriculture-related businesses, seed companies, co-ops, and support services.

Harvesting Clean Energy 2014
February 4-6, 2013, Helena, Montana

The 13th Harvesting Clean Energy includes a diverse range of participants such as farmers, ranchers, foresters and other rural land and business owners. The conference is also proud to attract participation from agricultural organizations, food processors, rural utilities, funders, economic developers, elected officials, government and tribal agencies and the clean energy industry.

Hardwood Biofuels Webinar Series

Assessing the economic and environmental impacts of sustainably produced poplar-based biofuels

Producing fuels from poplar wood grown on bioenergy farms must be economically viable and environmentally sound to be sustainable. Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest will present two research programs designed to assess the sustainability of poplar-based biofuel production.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | 10:00-11:00 am PST
To attend, register at http://breeze.wsu.edu/e1rsyylzl2p/event/registration.html

What’s covered?

  • Economic assessment of the bioconversion process based on ASPEN model outputs
  • Profitability analysis including options to produce hydrogen
  • Life cycle inventory of resources and energy inputs and emissions
  • Life cycle analysis in consideration of global warming and fossil fuel and water use

A technical feasibility and economic performance analysis examines the production of biofuels using the ZeaChem conversion technology with options for producing the hydrogen that is required in the process. Using outputs from an ASPEN simulation model of the bioconversion process for the economic assessment, we will present operating and capital cost results as well as an evaluation of economies of scale. Profitability is presented in terms of the cash cost to produce the fuel and the selling price required to generate a reasonable return on investment.

Life cycle assessments (LCA) examine all the resource demands and outputs to the environment associated with the production and use of a product. Starting from establishment of the bioenergy farm to combustion of the fuel product we inventory the resources and energy acquired from the environment and all emissions that go back into the environment. The life cycle inventories are then translated into environmental impacts using standard LCA protocols. In this LCA we examine life cycle global warming potential, fossil fuel usage, and water usage. The life cycle impacts of hydrogen production options are examined in detail to complement the techno/economic analysis research in this area.

When: Wednesday, December 11 | 10:00 – 11:00 am PST
Who should attend: Extension educators, potential landowners/growers, ag and natural resource professionals, poplar and bioenergy researchers, and other biomass producers.
Presenters: Dr. Rick Gustafson, Eric Budsberg, and Jordon Crawford from the University of Washington
Sponsored by: University of Washington and Washington State University with funding from Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30407 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

How to access the webinar: Register for the Webinar at http://breeze.wsu.edu/e1rsyylzl2p/event/registration.html. For assistance, please contact Nora Haider at nora.haider@wsu.edu.

Start connecting 10 minutes prior to the start time. You need a computer with internet access and speakers. At the meeting time, you can enter the meeting at this link http://breeze.wsu.edu/growinggreen/, or copy and paste the URL into your internet browser. The link will open to a login page. “Enter as guest” with your name, and business or institution and click “Enter Room”.

This webinar is part of the Hardwood Biofuels Webinar Series. Find the series including archived presentations online at: http://hardwoodbiofuels.org/webinars/

Want join our mailing list and receive the lasted new and event information from AHB? Register online at: http://hardwoodbiofuels.org/about/connect-with-ahb/


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.