Bookmark and Share

EnergyAg Newsbriefs

November 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

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.


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

The following three articles appeared in the September 2013 issue of Biomass Magazine; the second and third articles were both written by Anna Simet, Managing Editor of Biomass Magazine:

  • "Dedicated Feedstock Forerunner,” by Sue Retka Schill, Senior Editor ofBiomass Magazine, describes a company’s effort, with government financial assistance, to grow crops to fuel its cellulosic ethanol plant. The article includes a sidebar, “Managing Invasiveness Risk.”
  • On Board with Energy Crops” reports that Portland General Electric (PGE) has been researching the possibility of switching fuels at its Boardman Power Plant, the last operating coal plant in Oregon. If feasible, torrefied biomass may replace coal at the plant thereby avoiding two unpalatable options for the company: closing the plant or meeting emissions requirements by 2020.
  • "Real Green Heat” is a case study of a five-story apartment building in Hamburg, Germany, whose façade is a system of photobioreactors that produces heat and power.

Biomass pellet production

Research Summary: Small Scale Biomass Pellet Production Process” was published at eXtension.org on October 15, 2013. This article provides information and links about research-in-progress at Pennsylvania State University. The team hopes to develop a reliable formulation and method for the production of high-quality biomass pellets for use as fuel or feedstock.

Sun Grant Initiative resources

The Sun Grant Initiative is a partnership of land-grant universities and national laboratories, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal of the initiative is to promote and develop a thriving biobased renewable energy feedstock industry. A directory of Sun Grant Initiative-supported resources was made available at eXtension.org on October 29, 2013; it contains a list of centralized and regional Sun Grant initiative websites, and a plethora of links to educational resources including webinars, scholarly papers, and curricula.

Camelina primer

Camelina for Biofuel Production” is a brief feature which appeared at eXtension.org on October 11, 2013. It provides basic camelina production information, a description of challenges, and links to further information.

Cost analysis of switching to a bioenergy crop

Budgeting Methods for Comparing a Biomass Energy Crop to an Existing Crop” appeared on the eXtension website on October 8, 2013. It explains how to analyze and compare the financial aspects of growing a biomass energy crop vs. maintaining an existing conventional crop. A resource list and bibliography are included.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Greenhouse gas emissions: Organic vs. conventional farming

Research conducted by Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the University of Hohenheim and pending publication in Science of the Total Environment in January 2014 shows that, when measured per hectare, organically farmed soils emit less nitrous oxide than conventionally farmed soils. When adjusted for yield, however, the results are opposite; organic lands would need to increase yield by about 9% to achieve parity with conventional farming. A summary of the research is available at fibl.org; the full paper, “Greenhouse gas fluxes from agricultural soils under organic and non-organic management — A global meta-analysis,” has been pre-published online and is available for purchase at ScienceDirect.com.

Potential for change in livestock farming CO2

A new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) finds that a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming worldwide could be achieved through the adoption of existing best practices in feeding, animal husbandry, and manure management. If all livestock producers emulated the most efficient operators, reductions of up to 30 percent could be achieved. To learn more and link to the full study, see “Major Cuts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Livestock within Reach,” published September 26, 2013, on the FAO website.

LIGHTING

Vertical farming and LEDs

Grow Up!,” by Sara Hart, was published in the September/October issue of GreenSource. Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is an umbrella term for both older and newer approaches to growing food. While the article mentions three older ones (aquaculture, aquaponics, and hydroponics), it focuses on two newer ones – vertical farming and the related, building-integrated agriculture (BIA). Energy use will be one very important factor under consideration. Energy-efficient LEDs appear to provide plants with the same life-giving light that other lamps do, but use only one-quarter of the energy.

LOCAL SOURCING

Perspectives on food hubs

An article published in the November/December issue of Orion Magazine, “From Farm to Table: Building Local Infrastructure to Support Local Food,” provides a thoughtful discussion of the benefits of, and challenges to, local food hubs through the lens of Mad River Food Hub and some of its participating farmers. The article is one of a 12-part series on Reimaging Infrastructure.

POLICY AND LEGISLATION

BCAP funds announced

On October 21, 2013, the USDA announced the availability of $181 million through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. The funds will be awarded to select projects for the development of commercial-scale biorefineries or to retrofit existing facilities with updated equipment. For details, see the USDA press release; it includes information about the program’s purpose and progress, including brief descriptions of some of its successes.

EVENTS, TRAININGS, AND WEBINARS

Tilth Producers of Washington Annual Conference
November 8, 2013, Yakima, Washington

This action-packed event is Washington’s largest gathering of the sustainable agriculture industry, with more than 400 growers, businesses, researchers, students and advocates in attendance. We’re proud to bring you this year’s conference: Nourishing the Future: Cultivating our Farming Legacy.

Focus on Farming Conference
November 21, 2013, Everett, Washington

Spend an outstanding day of learning, networking and enjoying farm fresh local products prepared by regional gourmet chefs. Learn about innovative ideas from local and national farmers. See how new and upcoming farmers are shaping the future of the agricultural world and providing tomorrow's food. You will find 24 great workshop classes with six industry tracks presented by some of the top experts in the country.

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.


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.