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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

July 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

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Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pacific Southwest Region recently released a Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool, an interactive map and information center to connect the producers of organic waste (grease, fat, food waste, agricultural residues and other byproducts) with potential users (such as biomass-burning CHP plants and dairy biodigesters). The tool includes information and resources for the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. For more information, read the June 7, 2012, news release.

Guides to switchgrass and miscanthus

Two complete, informative primers for biofuel crops, one for switchgrass and one for miscanthus, were recently updated on the eXtension website. The articles include Information about plant biology, production and storage, potential yields, environmental considerations, and challenges to production, along with references and links to further resources.

"Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) for Biofuel Production" was updated June 15, 2012.

"Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) for Biofuel Production" was updated June 18, 2012.

Eastern Washington farmers consider oilseed offer

Growers in Eastern Washington are considering an offer from Independence Energy Co., an oilseed diesel processor, to relocate to the area in exchange for a commitment to grow a cumulative 5,000 acres of camelina. Growers would be paid 6.5 cents per pound for the camelina seed, and receive a 40 percent discount on diesel fuel for their operations. For details, read "Growers Consider Comitting Acres for Oilseed," published June 14, 2012, in Capital Press.


Sustainability tools for nursery and greenhouse growers

On May 16, 2012, the Food Alliance released a set of sustainability tools for nursery and greenhouse operators. The core of the toolset is a sustainability standard and accompanying certification which incorporates measures of resource conservation, IPM, wildlife and biodiversity conservation, energy efficiency, recycling, and waste disposal. For information, visit the Food Alliance website, or read the press release.

Sustainable greenhouse production course

A free web-based course, Sustainable Commercial Greenhouse Production, was made available on the Colorado State University Extension website in June 2012. The course, sponsored by Western SARE and developed by Steve Newman of Colorado State University, contains lecture notes, videos, notes, and supplemental reading on all aspects of greenhouse crop production.


Farm Hack

"Farmers + Engineers = Farm Hack" was published June 26, 2012, on the Harvest Public Media website. A Farm Hack is a gathering of farmers and engineers who meet to discuss and find solutions for small-scale farm problems, and to increase the efficiency of operations on small farms. The groups collaborate to engineer solutions, often incorporating equipment scaled appropriately for small acreage (for example, a pedal-powered quadracycle for berry picking). Farm Hack is organized by the National Young Farmers Association.

Virtual field day: Reduce tillage by rolling and flailing cover crops

A video posted on the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) website and on YouTube provides a "virtual field day" illustrating a technique to reduce tillage: The termination of barley and vetch cover crops with a roller/crimper and flail mower instead of a rototiller. The video is part of a series of virtual field days filmed in 2011 at the CSANR Mount Vernon and Puyallup field stations.


Small scale slaughterhouses improve market for local livestock

"Small-Scale Slaughterhouses Aim To Put The 'Local' Back In Local Meat" is a June 4, 2012, entry in the National Public Radio Food Blog. The article describes the plight of small scale meat producers looking to serve local markets who must truck their animals hundreds of miles away, and back again, to and from the nearest slaughterhouse. It then provides examples of individual and small group ventures in Washington State, New York, and Vermont which successfully brought the kill closer to home.


Farm Bill passed by Senate

The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240) was passed by the Senate on June 21, 2012, after the consideration of over 70 amendments, some of which sought to weaken energy and conservation titles. The vote and final passage showed strong bipartisan support for energy and conservation programs, including $800 million in mandatory funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy. For information, see "Senate Passes Farm Bill with Strong Energy Title and Strengthened Conservation Provisions," published June 22, 2012, on the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) website, or "Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President," published June 21, 2012, at the Environmental Law and Policy Center.


Intelligent Efficiency

A Defining Framework for Intelligent Efficiencyis a research report released by ACEEE on June 5, 2012 (free login required for download). It describes an intelligent approach to energy efficiency, whereby information and communications technology are utilized to gather, analyze, and transmit energy data over whole systems, enabling smarter energy decisions. The report includes an agriculture case study: Precision Agriculture.

Algae found to be palatable by steers

A study at University of Texas A&M Agrilife found that the residue leftover after making biofuel from algae has potential for use as a feed supplement for cattle. Steer reliably consumed the substance when it was blended with grains and/or cottonseed meal. For information, see "AgriLife Research Study Focuses on Feeding Beef Steers with Algae Co-products," published May 28, 2012, in AgriLife Today.


The 5th National Conference on Facilitating Sustainable Agriculture Education

September 9-10, 2012 (post-conference September 11), Corvallis, Oregon

Join us to explore this year's conference theme, The Campus Food System: A Learning Laboratory. Held in the heart of Oregon’s productive Willamette Valley, this conference will give sustainable agriculture educators, students, and advocates a chance to share and develop innovations in sustainable agriculture education.We will discover how campus food systems are and can be utilized as a laboratory to enhance students understanding of the importance of sustainable production and the complexity of local, regional, and global food systems.

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