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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

September 2010

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

Eastern Washington farmer grows and presses camelina to run his own tractors

“La Crosse Farmer Fuels Equipment for His Crop” is a feature article appearing in the August 9 issue of WSU Today, and includes a short video interview of Steve Camp, who has been growing and processing camelina for fuel use on his farm for the past three years. Also included is a discussion of WSU research into camelina breeding, production, and processing. Read the article

Small-scale anaerobic digester shows potential as under-sink appliance

Researchers at Washington State University have been working to refine designs for an anaerobic digester which is small enough to fit under the kitchen sink. The digester could be used as an in-home or small farm appliance, converting waste organic material into energy and fertile compost. To learn more, read “Digesters Make Energy, Fertilizer and Cut Waste” in the August 19 issue of WSU Today.

Idaho Power to purchase electricity from three Idaho dairies

In “Dairies Go Green with Digesters,” three Idaho farmers share their perspectives and experiences producing power and fertilizer with on-farm manure digesters. Read this article on the Captial Press website.

Oregon biorefinery to work with local growers; utilize diverse feedstocks

A large new cellulosic biorefinery, scheduled to commence production in 2011 in Boardman, Oregon, will use locally grown poplar tree waste as its main feedstock, but will also partner with local farmers to acquire wheat straw and other materials. To learn more, read “New Biorefinery Will Bring Jobs to Northeastern Oregon”

Biofuel’s potential explored in Washington State Magazine feature article

"Cultivating New Energy," by staff, is a discussion of various biological sources for energy including their advantages, generally, over fossil fuels and their suitability for Washington State, in particular. The oilseed plant, camelina, is featured as a promising renewable energy resource. See this article in Washington State Magazine, Fall 2010.

BIOCHAR

Research study explores biochar’s environmental benefits

“Sustainable Biochar to Mitigate Global Climate Change” is an article published in the August 10 issue of Nature Communications. Researchers found that, in most cases, utilizing sustainably produced biomass to produce biochar has greater potential benefits for the environment than the production of biofuel from the same material. Read the article

RESEARCH

Stanford study determines GHG reduction benefit with high-yield agriculture

Researchers from Stanford University studied the impact that conventional, high-yield agriculture has had on greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade, and concluded that it has most likely resulted in a slowing of greenhouse gas emissions overall. The authors acknowledge that there are many negative effects of modern industrial agriculture which must be addressed. “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation by Agricultural Intensification” was published in June 2010 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is available online.

USDA report reveals increase in energy consumption for food

Energy Use in the U.S. Food System is a report issued by the USDA Economic Research Service in March 2010. The report describes and quantifies energy expenditures for food growing, processing, packaging, distributing, storing, preparing, serving, and disposal, and finds there has been a marked increase over the past decade due to population growth, higher food expenditures, and increased reliance on energy-intensive technologies. The report can be downloaded from the USDA web site.

Study suggests locally adapted biomass production need not impact food supply

Scientists at UC Berkeley and University of Illinois, along with analysts from the Energy Bioscience Institute, suggest in a new study that a diversity of plant species adapted to specific regions of the world could grow significant amounts of biomass without impacting food production systems. The article, “Feedstocks for Lignocellulosic Biofuels,” was published in the August 13 edition of Science (subscription required for full text access). Summary of the article

TOOLS / RESOURCES

Report examines weak U.S. agriculture/renewable energy link; offers solutions

Beyond Biofuels: Energy Opportunites for U.S. Farmers is a new report released by Heinrich Böll Stiftung, an international non-profit organization promoting democracy, human rights, and environmental health. The report discusses the plethora of untapped energy opportunities for farmers in the U.S., and contrasts this with the situation in Germany, where farmers have capitalized on renewable energy ventures such as biomass, solar, and wind with impressive results. Suggestions are given for how the U.S. can bolster its agriculture/renewable energy connections using Germany as a model. Read the report

EVENTS AND TRAININGS

Agriculture 2.0: Global Investments

September 14, 2010

New York, NY

Agriculture 2.0 is organized by NewSeed Advisors, an integrated investment banking and management consulting practice for sustainable agriculture ventures. NewSeed Advisors aims to catalyze the growth of sustainable agriculture by connecting investors with entrepreneurs poised to have a game-changing effect on the current agricultural system. The Global Investments conference is intended for investors in macro-strategy, agriculture, energy, and cleantech; entrepreneurs in agriculture, food, and clean energy; and agribusiness executives who need to remain on the cutting edge.

Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture Conference 2010 (GGAA2010)

October 3-8, 2010

Banff, Alberta, Canada

This conference will provide an opportunity to present and discover the latest scientific advances in the area of greenhouse gas research in animal agriculture.

Biogas USA

October 13-14, 2010

San Francisco, CA

This key event will bring together leaders of the U.S. biogas industry to examine how to develop commercially successful biogas projects, and to address the latest technological advances in production. Delegates will learn from best practice case studies from government representatives, biogas producers, utilities, and biogas users to gain a clear understanding of the current federal policy framework, investment criteria, project start-up requirements, plant optimization, and upgrading biogas for injection into national gas grids.

GRANTS AND FUNDING

Field Day: Energy Training program (Missouri)

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources will provide up to $500,000 in grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment act for organizations to provide energy-efficiency education and training to Missouri farmers. The sponsored energy “field days” will provide farmers with tools and resources to identify opportunities to save energy and reduce costs on their farms. The application deadline for this opportunity is September 13, 2010.

Rural Energy for America Program Feasibility Study grant deadline approaching

Reminder: The deadline for the Rural Energy for America (REAP) Feasibility Study grant applications for Washington State is October 5, 2010.

USDA to expand school community gardens and garden-based learning programs

The People's Garden School Pilot Program will provide funding to develop and run community gardens at eligible high-poverty schools; teach students involved in the gardens about agriculture production practices, diet, and nutrition; and evaluate learning outcomes. This $1 million pilot program is authorized under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act.

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.