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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

February 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.


Perennial biofuel crops reduce nitrogen losses

A study comparing perennial biofuel crops to a traditional corn and soybean rotation found that perennial crops reduce nitrogen losses by moving nitrogen from the green parts of the plant to the roots and rhizomes before harvest. Thus, nitrogen which would otherwise be lost during harvest remains in the soil. Miscanthus was found to be particularly efficient at conserving soil nitrogen. The study, " Reduced Nitrogen Losses after Conversion of Row Crop Agriculture to Perennial Biofuel Crops ," was published in the January 2013 issue of Journal of Environmental Quality.

Dual-purpose switchgrass

A December 2012 report from the Noble Foundation, Switchgrass as a Dual-Purpose Grazing and Bioenergy Crop , investigates the potential of switchgrass to serve as both a grazing crop for livestock and a feedstock for biofuel production. The authors tested a variety of stock densities, and determined that the viability of such a system would depend on a balance of stock density with current market prices.

A peek into small-scale biodiesel production

How We Make Biodiesel is a short video released January 24, 2013, by the University of Idaho Biodiesel Education Program. Viewers can learn firsthand how program members transform waste oil and site-grown oilseed into fuel.


Energy audit timing

"When Do Farmers Need Energy Audits on Their Farms?" was released January 3, 2013, at This article, written by Don Day of University of Missouri Extension, offers recommendations for determining if and when an energy audit is needed.


CHP-powered greenhouse

"Less Energy, More Conservation," published in the January/February 2013 issue of Water Efficiency, describes the use of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in a large-scale greenhouse operation. The system provides heat for the greenhouses, and the C02 emitted by the generator is absorbed by the plants. The author goes on to discuss the economic benefits of CHP in a plethora of applications, from industrial processes to hospitals and schools.


USDA awards funds for bioenergy research

On January 11, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $25 million to projects in four states to fund research and development of advanced biofuels, feedstocks, bio-based products, and product development analysis. To learn more and read the list of projects, see the USDA press release .

DOE awards for advanced biofuels and bio-based products

On January 3, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the award of over $10 million for the development of new technologies to convert biomass into advanced biofuels and bio-products. Among the recipients is Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNL); the PNL funding will support efforts to harvest fuel from cellulose using fungi as an intermediary.


New hydropower technology under development

Researchers from New Mexico State University have developed a new kind of hydropower generator which collects power at any frequency from flowing water. The promising new technology requires minimal infrastructure for installation, and could have multiple applications in both urban and rural environments. To learn more, read " Hydropower Energy Harvesters Have Potential to Transform Power Generation ," released January 14, 2013, at


App puts fuel calculations in your pocket

A new Android app developed by North Dakota State University Extension, Farm Fuel Budget , allows users to estimate fuel cost by year after entering parameters for total acres, acres per crop, field operations per crop, and projected fuel cost per gallon. To learn more, see "NDSU Develops Farm Fuel Budget App," published January 18, 2012, at NDSU News.

Webinar series: PNW Agriculture and Climate Change

The WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSNAR) is presenting a series of webinars on PNW Agriculture and Climate Change. A link to registration for upcoming webinars, as well as archives of past webinars and companion reference sheets, are available. The most recent webinar, Soil Carbon Dynamics and Climate Change Mitigation in the Inland Pacific Northwest , and its associated reference sheet, are now available for viewing.

Farm energy webinars

Between January and March, 2013, the University of Wisconsin will present a series of farm energy webinars on the topics of irrigation, animal housing, greenhouses, grain drying, milk production, and field crop production. The webinars are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.


Cultivating Success: Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching
Mondays, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM, February 11 - April 29, 2013, Port Angeles, Washington
The Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching course offered by WSU Clallam County Extension provides beginning and expanding farmers with planning and decision-making tools, production skills, and support necessary to develop or improve their sustainable small farm or ranch. The class is part of the Cultivating Success Program, a collaboration of Washington State University's Small Farms Team, University of Idaho Extension and the non-profit Rural Roots. Sustainable Farming and Ranching runs weekly on Monday nights. - ATTRA

Webinar: Introduction to Thermochemical Technologies for Production of Fuels and Biobased Products
February 13, 2013, 8:00 AM PST
In this webinar, Dr. Robert Brown will discuss the merits of thermochemical processing of biomass for the production of fuels and bio-based products. Thermochemical processing is distinguished from biochemical processing in the use of heat and catalysts instead of microorganisms and enzymes. This talk will describe the thermochemical technologies of gasification, pyrolysis, and solvent liquefaction and the companies that are developing these commercially.

AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit NW
February 19, 2012, Portland, Oregon
Focusing on the Pacific Northwest, the AWEA Regional Wind Energy Summit - Northwest provides a comprehensive and timely analysis of current and near-term market conditions, opportunities and the latest on siting, transmission expansion and grid operations issues. This is a can't-miss event whether you are making investment decisions to enter this market, or are already involved in Western U.S. wind project development and need to learn more. Feature sessions include a spotlight on recently built wind projects and business development activity, as well as a state policy roundtable with legislators and regulators on what's hot in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.

Women in Agriculture Conference: Growing Your Successful Farm Business
February 23, 2013, Multiple locations in Washington State
Washington State's women farmers have a unique opportunity to attend a locally-based statewide agriculture conference offering speakers, practical advice, and collaborative discussion on how to improve farm management skills in addition to networking opportunities with other women "farmtrepreneurs." This event is sponsored by WSU Extension.

Oregon Small Farms Conference
March 2, 2013, Corvallis, Oregon
The daylong event is geared toward farmers, agriculture professionals, food policy advocates, students and managers of farmers markets. Twenty-one sessions will be offered on a variety of topics relevant to the Oregon small farmer. Speakers will include farmers, OSU Extension faculty, agribusiness, and more. 2013 Sessions Descriptions are now available, and registration is currently open.

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