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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

April 2014

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.


WSU Biofuels Cropping Systems team wins Interdisciplinary Award
In April, the Washington State Biofuels Cropping Systems (WBCS) project team was awarded the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Science (CAHNRS) Team Interdisciplinary Award for 2014. Since the project started in 2007, 15 state faculty, 7 USDA-ARS scientists, 6 research associates, 11 graduate students, and 12 technicians have been involved in conducting research and outreach about oilseed crop production in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest. The award honors the many accomplishments of this impressive team.


Spring oilseed availability
A list of locations and availability of spring oilseed crop seed to assist growers with variety selection and purchasing decisions is available on the WSU Crop and Soil Sciences Biofuels Cropping Systems website. Winter canola seed is available at many of the same locations; an updated list will be posted later this spring on the website’s home page.

Oilseed conference presentations now available
Poster sessions and slide shows from the 2014 WSU Oilseed & PNDSA Direct Seed Cropping Systems Conference are now available online. A variety of topics are represented, including biomass and oilseed farming, farm management, oilseed policy, soil health, cover cropping, and more. Video presentations will be posted soon.

Willow shows potential as biofuel crop
A research summary on the sequestration of carbon by shrub willow was published at on March 12, 2014. The article describes a multi-university study outlining the potential for shrub willow to become a widely utilized biofuel crop, mainly due to its high net energy ratio. Links to further information are also provided.


Value of cover crops quantified
Research performed by Penn State University scientists found that cover cropping provides more ecological and environmental benefits than previously thought. The research quantified a positive impact for eight separate parameters, including an increase in soil carbon and nitrogen, erosion prevention, increased mycorrhizal colonization, and weed suppression. The research was published in the March 2014 issue of Agricultural Systems. To learn more, read “Research Reveals True Value of Cover Crops to Farmers, Environment,” published March 18, 2014 at PSU News.


Food Hubs: Solving Local is a new report published in March 2014 by the Wallace Center. This report provides case studies of successful cooperative efforts among small farms, food retailers, local distribution centers, and large-scale wholesale markets. It is intended to help large retailers tap into local food channels in order to satisfy the increasing demand for fresh, local products.


Crop water allocator
An online tool for calculating an optimum crop watering schedule for the highest water efficiency and net yield was recently developed by Kansas State University Extension. The Crop Water Allocator is available free online, and can be used directly on the web or downloaded to a local computer and used offline. The tool is part of a suite of software developed by the KSU Mobile Irrigation Lab.


Materials from a March 18, 2014,presentation on LED lighting in turkey barns are available on the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) website. Participants learned from USDA and utilities representatives how to perform and fund an LED lighting retrofit. The information presented is useful regardless of locality, and could apply to any type of commercial-scale poultry housing.


New climate data website launched
With leadership from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Obama Administration has launched The website will make Federal data about our climate more open, accessible, and useful to citizens, researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. The website will initially focus on coastal flooding and sea level rise, and will add additional data and tools relevant to other important climate-related impacts, including risks to human health, the food supply, and energy infrastructure. To learn more, see the March 14, 2014, press release at


The Sun Grant Initiative is a national network of land-grant universities and national laboratories partnering to help build a bio-based economy. The initiative facilitates communication and partnership development among universities, national laboratories, federal and state governments, the private sector, and public interest groups with the shared goal of working toward a renewable, sustainable, domestic energy industry. Visit to see a list of resources developed with the support of the Sun Grant Initiative.


BioCycle Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling Conference
April 7-10, 2014, San Diego, California

Participants get the latest on technologies, case studies, and practices to turn municipal, commercial, agricultural, and industrial organic waste streams into power, renewable natural gas, vehicle fuels, and high-value digestate and compost products. Three tracks encompass the full spectrum of producing renewable energy and high-value products from organic waste streams, with a primary focus on anaerobic digestion. A fourth track is dedicated to food recovery and recycling.

Webinar: Nitrogen Management and Climate Change Mitigation in Pacific Northwest Cropping Systems
April 17, 2014, 10:00 a.m. PST

Join Georgine Yorgey, Associate in Research at WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR), as she provides an overview of nitrous oxide mitigation strategies that could be applicable in Pacific Northwest cropping systems. Participate in this webinar if you want to learn about strategies for mitigating nitrous oxide emissions in Pacific Northwest agricultural cropping systems. Archived webinars in the same series are also available; see link above.

Future Energy Conference
April 22, 2014, Portland, Oregon

Now in its eighth year, this is the premier event addressing the business side of clean energy. Presented by the Northwest Environmental Business Council (NEBC), this conference provides an unmatched forum for learning, networking, and business development by bringing together members of the energy industry, energy end-users, policy makers, project developers, financiers, and technology and service providers.

Climate Change and Horse Keeping Conference
April 25, 2014, Auburn, Washington

The King Conservation District and Horses for Clean Water are holding a conference on Climate Change and Horse Keeping – Managing the Uncertainty. Horse and livestock owners are already facing challenges from diseases and pests appearing more frequently and becoming more resistant. Experts will converge to discuss potential impacts of climate change on the Pacific Northwest environment and agricultural community, and how these impacts can be managed for land and horses.

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