Bookmark and Share

EnergyAg Newsbriefs

December 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.


A snapshot of camelina’s rise as a biofuel crop in Oregon
"Camelina Shines as Rotation Crop," published in the November 11th issue of Capital Press, provides information about camelina from the perspective of Oregon growers and processors. Camelina’s history, potential markets, and yields are discussed.

Pennycress shows potential as biofuel crop; media takes notice
Buzz about pennycress has been increasing since the publication of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) article"In Peoria, a Brisk Business in Biodiesel Research" (cited in last month’s Energy Ag Newsbriefs). "Field Pennycress Shows Research Potential," published in the November issue of Biodiesel Magazine, discusses the work done by ARS researchers, as does "Pennycress Could Go From Nuisance Weed to New Source of Biofuel," a widely circulated USDA press release. Biofuels Daily weighs in on the topic with "Pennycress, French Weed, Fanweed: By Any Name, a Biofuel Rose."

Ongoing investigation into using an invasive plant for biofuel
Russian olive, an introduced and invasive weed which has rapidly spread throughout Montana and other areas throughout the western United States, is being investigated for use as a biomass source for the production of biofuel. Montana State University and the Missouri Watershed Coalition received funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in support of the project. For information, read "MSU, Partners in Six States Consider Converting Invasive Plants to Fuel."


Farmers, dairy operators weigh in on ethanol regulations
"Ethanol Decision Raises Questions," by Dave Wilkins of Capital Press, provides perspectives from a service station owner, farm organizations, and the livestock industry on the impending decision by the Environmental Protection Agency on whether to allow the use of E15 blended fuel in cars manufactured before 2007. While several farm organizations support the expanded use of E15, the livestock industry is concerned that the ruling would have a negative impact on the cost of feed.

Proposed biomass plant raises ire
A biomass and composting facility to be constructed in Clackamas, Oregon, has raised criticism from citizens and farm owners in the surrounding area. Concerns include the potential for the harboring of plant diseases, groundwater consumption and contamination, traffic, and decreased property values. To learn more, read "Planned Biomass Plant Draws Opposition," published in the November 11th issue of Capital Press.


Organic and conventional dairy farming footprints compared
A Dairy Farm's Footprint: Evaluating the Impacts of Conventional and Organic Farming Systems, published by The Organic Center, provides a comprehensive analysis of the environmental footprint of an alternative dairy farm management system. The research utilizes the Shades of Green (SOG) Dairy Farm Management Calculator, a model developed by the center which quantifies the economic, environmental, and animal welfare aspects of dairy farm management systems.


eXtension offers tips for efficiency in tractor and field operations
"Tractor and Field Operations Energy Efficiency Checklist and Tips" is one of a series of farm energy efficiency checklists provided in the Farm Energy section of the eXtension website. This feature includes a list of questions to consider, facts and actions for improving tractor and field operations efficiency, and links to additional resources.

Smart ideas for efficient refrigeration on the farm
"Energy Efficient Refrigeration for Farms," a feature article from eXtension, provides an overview of the uses of refrigeration in agricultural settings, and offers guidance for increasing and maintaining efficiency in systems and operation.

For energy efficient high tunnels, try natural ventilation
"Natural Ventilation in High Tunnels" provides valuable information about the types of natural ventilation used in high tunnels, describes how they are implemented, and outlines the benefits of such systems. This article was recently published in the Farm Energy section of eXtension.


Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy
The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture request proposals for Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy: A Joint Research Funding Opportunity Announcement USDA, DOE. This RFP will support research that will lead to the improved use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks. $6 million expected to be available, up to 25 awards anticipated. Pre-applications are required and are due 12/17/10, final proposals due 2/25/11. For more info, contact Catherine Ronning at . ( 11/1/10)

Renewable Energy and Efficiency Grant Proposals Workshops: Financial Incentives for Farms and Rural Small Businesses (Washington State)
USDA Rural Development is sponsoring five two-part Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency workshops. The work­shops, which are FREE, will include information about the funding and technical assistance available to farms and small businesses through the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). For locations & dates, see entry under Events and Trainings, below.


Bioenergy Research Symposium posters now available online
Poster displays illustrating Washington State University research efforts in biofuels cropping systems are now available for public viewing. Topics include: Growing Biofuel Crops in Western Washington; Herbicide Resistant Camelina: Adapting an Oilseed Crop to PNW Cropping Systems; Wide Row Spacing Canola Project; and others.

New publication details how farmers can profit from environmental markets
Environmental markets involve the buying, selling, and/or trading of credits for activities such as wetlands restoration, improving water quality, and carbon emissions reduction and/or storage. Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers explains in detail the concept and present realities of environmental markets, and explains how farmers and ranchers can take advantage of them while contributing to environmental sustainability. Although this guide has a Washington State focus, much of the information is transferrable to other states. The guide was published by American Farmland Trust with support and assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington State Conservation Service, and University of Washington.


Renewable Energy and Efficiency Grant Proposals Workshops: Financial Incentives for Farms and Rural Small Businesses (Washington State)
USDA Rural Development is sponsoring five two-part Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency workshops. The work­shops, which are FREE, will include information about the funding and technical assistance available to farms and small businesses through the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). Eligibility requirements and sample project proposals will be discussed.
Locations & Dates:

  • Port Angeles: December 8, 2010
  • Olympia: December 15, 2010
  • Spokane: January 11, 2011
  • Yakima: January 13, 2011
  • Everett: January 19, 2011

To register, please contact Laura Aymond at (360) 704-7736, or email her at

Small and Community Wind Conference
December 7-9, 2010, Portland, Oregon
This year’s conference education program is designed to help develop business strategies that deliver results for both small wind and community wind focused attendees. Hear from wind experts, investors, and stakeholders from across the nation on how wind can create a cleaner energy future, strengthen regional and national economies, and lead to a sound, profitable energy market.

Switchgrass Biofuel Workshop
December 8, 2010, Prosser, WA
Join WSU and USDA-ARS researchers Steve Fransen and Hal Collins for a one-day workshop with information about the potential of switchgrass as an alternative energy source. Pre-registration is required.

Oilseed Crop Production Workshops (Washington State)
Have you ever considered growing an oilseed crop on your farm but you're not sure how to begin? Or do you already have experience but have questions about equipment, diseases, rotation options, marketing, or other issues? WSU and USDA-ARS are working with county Extension staff, industry and farmers in each rainfall zone to plan comprehensive, one-day workshops about winter and spring canola, mustard, camelina, and other oilseed crops at three locations this winter.
Locations & Dates:

  • Okanogan: January 25, 2011
  • Reardan: January 26, 2011
  • Colfax: January 27, 2011

EcoFarm Conference 2011
January 26-29, 2011, Pacific Grove, CA
With over 60 workshops featuring prominent speakers on the latest advances in agricultural techniques, marketing strategies, research and other important food system issues, along with organic meals and lively entertainment, the EcoFarm Conference is the largest sustainable agriculture gathering in the western United States.

Pacific West Biomass Conference & Trade Show
January 10-12, 2011, Seattle, WA
The Pacific West BIOMASS Conference & Trade Show will connect the area’s current and future producers of biomass-derived electricity, industrial heat and power, and advanced biofuels with waste generators, aggregators, growers, municipal leaders, utility executives, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors and policy makers.

Biogas Workshops
Various dates and locations
The Complete Biogas Handbook is presenting a two-day beginner's workshop in several places around the country offering complete information about "how to understand, successfully make, and properly use biogas ... and how to make simple, effective, low–cost digesters." See link for locations and dates.

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