Bookmark and Share

EnergyAg Newsbriefs

August 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.


Ohio oilseed production explored

Researchers at Ohio State University are exploring the uses, growing requirements, and applications of oilseed crops for Ohio farms. Flax, camelina, and canola are among the crops being studied, with potential uses ranging from biodiesel to cooking oil to animal feed. To learn more, read " Ohio State Project Brings Back Oilseed Crops to Historical Farm, Looks at Future Uses ," published July 15, 2013, on the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARD) website.

The following four articles were published in the May/June 2013 issue of Biodiesel Magazine:

"The Algae Farmer" is the text of an interview with James Umen, an algae researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis; the interviewer was Melanie Bernds, PR Manager at Danforth. There is discussion of algae diesel supplementing or replacing petro diesel fuel, of algae needing more water than land crops, of tax incentives having an important effect on the biofuels sector, and more.

"The Distillers Corn Oil Craze," by Ron Kotrba, Editor, Biodiesel Magazine, reviews some of the advantages of distillers corn oil (DCO) over yellow grease and used cooking oil as biofuels, but cautions biodiesel producers that there are other things just as important to consider.

"German Biodiesel Quality: 2012 AGQM Survey," by Juergen Fischer, Chairman of the Board, AGQM, (the German Quality Management Association for Biodiesel) reports that the quality of Germany's biodiesel compares favorably with that of fuels that meet the European Standard (EN 14214) or the more stringent German version of that standard (DIN EN 14214).

"The New World of Biodiesel Feedstocks," by Nate Burk, Risk Management Consultant, FCStone LLC, is a discussion of where prices are headed for feedstocks such as soybean oil and fats and greases and which feedstocks will be likely to be in enough supply to fill the growing need in biodiesel production.


Interplanting prairie into row crops

"Iowa Farmer Tests New Conservation Practice," published July 9, 2013, on the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture website, describes the experience of one Iowa farmer in implementing STRIPs (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies), an Iowa State University research effort to test the interplanting of native prairie strips into row crop fields. Early trial results suggest that the practice can significantly reduce both soil erosion and nutrient runoff.

The science of crop rotation

New research conducted at the John Innes Center and published online July 18, 2013, in the ISME Journal, explores the scientific mechanisms behind the beneficial effects of crop rotations on soil and crop health. A summary of the research is available in " Why Crop Rotation Works: New Research Could Help Explain the Dramatic Effect on Soil Health and Yield of Crop Rotation ," published July 18, 2013, in John Innes Center News.


Energy Trust helps Oregon farms save energy

Read about how Energy Trust of Oregon helped agricultural and industrial customers increase the energy efficiency of their operations in " From Computers to Cold Storage, Industrial and Agricultural Customers Save in 2013 ." Strategic Energy Management accounted for almost half of the energy saved, with a substantial benefit also derived from custom and streamlined projects.

Insulation primer from eXtension

"Insulation Know-How," updated July 22, 2013, at, provides a brief guide to insulation materials and usage around the farm. A list of insulation types, considerations to keep in mind when planning how much insulation to install, and a guide to choosing the right material are included, as are links to further information.


Anaerobic digestion reduces pathogens in manure

"Pathogen Reduction in Anaerobic Digestion of Manure " was updated July 22, 2013, at Anaerobic digestion of manure helps with waste reduction and can produce energy, but an often overlooked aspect of this technology is its ability to decrease the quantity of harmful microorganisms released into the environment. This article summarizes the current research on pathogen reduction by anaerobic digestion.


House and Senate pass farm bills

A Senate and House version of the 2013 Farm Bill have been passed and await further legislation. Of note is the exclusion of the food assistance program from the House version of the bill. Farm energy funds are present in both the Senate and House versions. To learn more, see " The Farm Bill: Your 2013 5-Minute Guide to $1B in US Agri-Energy Investment ," published July 14, 2013, in Biofuels Digest, for a summary of the bills from a farm energy perspective, or "2013 Farm Bill Update - July 2013," published July 18, 2013, in Ohio Ag Manager, for a more general agricultural perspective.


Productivity and CO2 reduction: A fine balance

" Agricultural Productivity and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Trade-Offs or Synergies Between Mitigation and Food Security? " was published in July 2013 in Environmental Research Letters. It examines the balance between increased productivity of crops and livestock, greenhouse gas mitigation, and food security. An effective combination of sustainably produced higher yields and factory productivity gains is needed to address both greenhouse gas mitigation and food security issues.

NRCS tools to mitigate climate change

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partners have developed a set of tools to inform farmers, landholders, policymakers, and others how to best enhance the carbon content of soil and mitigate climate change. The Rapid Assessment of U.S. Soil Carbon (RaCA) is a dataset which estimates the amount and distribution of carbon stocks in U.S. soils; COMET-Farm is a greenhouse gas and carbon accounting system which allows producers to enter information about their farm and receive general guidance as to how to improve their practices; and the Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) is a software model for whole farm or small watershed management. See the Jul 1, 2013, press release for a brief description of all three tools.


Farm Walks with Tilth Producers
Selected Mondays, Spring/Summer 2013
A series of farm walks sponsored by Tilth Producers of Washington will take place throughout the Spring and Summer of 2013. Upcoming walks will visit J4 Berry Ranch in Mount Vernon and Lincoln Creek Ranch in Galvin. Preregistration is encouraged; see website for details.

International Quinoa Research Symposium
August 12-14, 2013, Pullman, Washington
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, in partnership with Washington State University, has announced the upcoming International Quinoa Research Symposium. Researchers from around the world will be hosted by Washington State University. The symposium will include hands-on demonstrations at area field trials, current research, and will coincide with the United Nations, International Year of the Quinoa (IYQ).

Irrigation Efficiency: Integrated Data Reporting for Decision Support Solutions
Monday, August 19, 2013, at 10:00 AM PST
Lori Rhodig, Program Manager at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), will make a presentation on Irrigation Efficiency: Integrated Data Reporting for Decision Support Solutions. There is currently no integrated irrigation decision support solution with a common platform of data reporting and a clear set of recommended actions. NEEA is working to achieve agricultural water, energy, and economic enhancement through 20% irrigation efficiency by 2020 by utilizing an integrated management solution. The presentation is part of ASERTTI's Webinar Series on Energy Applications and Cloud Computing.

Small-scale Micro-irrigation Design and Components Webinar
August 28, 2013 (Webinar)
This free, one-hour webinar features Hamid Farahani, Ph.D., Water Management Engineer at the USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center. Webinar participants will be introduced to the basics of micro-irrigation and its components, and they will learn about the critical design factors for a system, within the context of NRCS Conservation Practice Standard 441.

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