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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

June 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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BIOFUELS / BIOMASS

Camelina: Not just for fuel

Camelina has shown promise as a fuel oilseed, but its culinary attributes have largely escaped notice. Ole World Oils, a small camelina culinary oil processer near Odessa, Washington, hopes to change that, by offering a farm-to-table camelina oil suitable for anything from salads to sautéing.  For more information, read "Greenwalts Strike Oil Again, Sort Of," published April 25, 2012, in the Spokesman Review.

Snohomish County upgrades its oilseed processing facility

A county-owned oilseed processing facility in Snohomish County, Washington, will update its crushing and drying machinery in time to receive canola and other oilseed harvested from area farms later this year. The facility provides biodiesel for county vehicles, and acts as a local market for area oilseed farmers. To learn more, read "Crusher-dryer Upgrade Adds Value for Canola Farmers," published May 17, 2012, in Capital Press

POLICY AND LEGISLATION

Senate Ag Committee bill includes farm energy funding

On April 26, 2012, the Senate Agricultural Committee passed a Farm Bill markup with mandatory funding for rural and farm energy programs. Among other commitments, the bill presently includes $241 billion for the Rural Energy for America program (REAP), $193 million for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), and over $250 million combined for biomass R&D and biorefineries assistance. For details, read the April 26, 2012 news release on the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) website.

Responses to USDA Biofuel Roadmap

In June 2010, the USDA published A USDA Regional Roadmap to Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) by 2022. After the release, a series of workshops was held across the country to gather responses, reactions, and recommendations. Read what farmers, industry representatives, and others had to say in Summary Report of Stakeholder Responses to USDA's Biofuel Roadmap, published on May 9, 2012, by USDA.

New BioPreferred guidelines proposed by USDA

New proposed guidelines for the USDA BioPreferred program would allow intermediate ingredients such as fibers and resins to be designated under the BioPreferred label. Additionally, products which contain a fraction of biobased ingredients would be eligible for BioBased designation under the new guidelines, which appeared in the Federal Register on May 1, 2012. Learn more in "Biobased Products Continue Expansion," published May 3, 2012, in the Western Farm Press.

National Bioeconomy Blueprint released

A strategic plan to accelerate research and economic development in the biosciences was released by the Obama administration on April 26, 2012. The National Bioeconomy Blueprint is a roadmap for the expansion of biotechnology and biobased products across economic sectors, including agriculture, health care, energy, the environment, and manufacturing. The new strategy includes investment in research, development, and commercialization; streamlining regulations without compromising safety; and the development of training programs and public-private partnerships. 

RESEARCH

Progress report on biofuels research

A report summarizing research conducted by Washington State University and USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Biofuels Cropping System Project 2011 Annual Progress Report, was released in May 2012. The 92-page report includes individual research reports by region, cross-cutting projects, and an analysis of future plans.  

Seed plumping protein may increase biofuel yields

A protein that increases the oil yield of seeds has been developed by researchers at Montana State University, and could be used to increase the biofuel yield from dedicated crops such as canola and soy. The protein increases the size and weight of seeds by acting on a specific gene called the puroindonline gene; the bioengineered plants also show a greater resistance to fungal diseases. For more information, read "MSU Researchers Find Protein to Up Yield from Oilseed Crops," published March 23, 2012, at MSU News.

Grass-fed beef more sustainable

According to a May 2012 research report by the National Trust of UK, raising beef entirely on grass pasture is more sustainable overall than using more intensive feedlot methods. The findings are mainly due to the ability of well-managed grass pasture to sequester carbon. For more information, see "Grass-fed Beef is Best," updated May 16, 2012 at National Trust News, or download the full report, What's Your Beef?,

Wind farms may alter local climate

Research performed by scientists from SUNY Albany, NOAA, and the University of Illinois indicates that average air temperatures can be altered over time by the presence of large wind turbines. The study measured global temperatures using satellites, and found an average increase in temperature of about .72 degrees C per decade in areas surrounding the world's largest wind farms, including an area of west-central Texas. To learn more, read the April 29, 2012 news release from the SUNY Albany News Center, or read the full article, "Impacts of Wind Farms on Land Surface Temperature," published online by Nature Climate Change, April 29, 2012.

RESOURCES

A plethora of powerpoints from Biocycle 2012

Conference materials are available from the 2012 Biocycle West Coast Conference, held April 2012 in Portland, Oregon. Workshops with available materials include Biomethane for Transportation in the Pacific Northwest,Nutrient Recovery Technologies and Applications, Microbial And Compost Dynamics In In-Vessel Systems, Expanding into Codigestion, and many more.

EVENTS, TRAININGS, AND WEBINARS

Webinar: Risks and Returns on Renewable Energy Investments
June 14, 2012, 10:00 AM PST
Common renewable energy technologies will be discussed along with information about how to decide whether a renewable energy system will benefit your farm. Participants will learn how to find local resources to help with their renewable-energy buying decisions and equipment selection, as well as how to work with renewable-energy equipment suppliers. Participants also will get valuable information about available sources of funding: grants, loan guarantees, and tax credits available for installation of renewable-energy systems. This webinar is broadcast by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and funded by the Southern Risk Management Education Center.

Bioenergy Fridays: Thermal Conversion
Webinar, June 29, 2012, 12:00 PM PST
We'll discuss thermal conversion with detail on torrifaction in June's Bioenergy Friday webinar. This Series is hosted by John Hay, University of Nebraska and eXtension Farm Energy. Learn about application of the latest technologies for generating energy from biomass feedstocks and solar photovoltaics. Topics may cover subjects of ethanol, biodiesel, biochar, anaerobic digestion, and solar technologies.


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.