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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

January 2011

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

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Study shows feedstock and biofuel crop combinations can be environmentally friendly

Biofuels Done Right: Land Efficient Animal Feeds Enable Large Environmental and Energy Benefits,” published in Environmental Science and Technology, explores several possibilities for land-efficient technologies which produce a combination of animal feed and biofuel feedstock. The research finds that a significant quantity of ethanol could be produced without decreasing domestic food production and with a net environmental benefit.


ATTRA publication spotlights energy efficient farm lighting

Energy Efficient Lighting on the Farm, published by ATTRA, provides information and ideas about energy efficient lighting technologies, system designs, and potential energy savings on the farm. Definitions of lighting terminology, lighting for specific applications such as poultry farms, and lamp disposal are discussed.

Efficient milk cooling demystified

"Refrigeration Systems for Milk Cooling" provides a concise description of the milk cooling process, and highlights methods and equipment which increase its efficiency. Links to further resources are also provided. This article was published December 16th on the eXtension website.


New climate change measures from USDA

Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on December 9th a number of steps the USDA will take to promote the reduction and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Planned actions include a bolstering of demand for greenhouse gas mitigation services, an investigation into private-public partnerships between the USDA and such services, and an effort to improve greenhouse gas accounting. To learn more, read the press release.

Biodiesel Tax Extension signed into law

On December 17, president Obama signed into law H.R. 4853, which contains a reinstatement and extension of alternative fuel tax credits until December 31, 2011. The incentive is designed to make biofuels competitive with conventional diesel fuel in the marketplace. For more information, read "President Obama Signs Bill Extending Biodiesel Tax Incentive into Law" on

California adopts agricultural vision

The State Board of California has released a report, California Agricultural Vision: Strategies for Sustainability, which defines clear goals for the future of agriculture in the state. The report is to act as a strategic plan, outlining steps to be taken to ensure a safe, plentiful, just, and environmentally sound agricultural and food sector in California.


Guide to USDA funding for renewable energy projects

The USDA is poised to offer funding to private companies and agricultural operations for renewable energy projects in 2011. A Guide to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Financing Opportunities for Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Projects, published in December 2010 by the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR), outlines USDA financing programs and explains their supporting legislation.

WaterSMART: Water and Energy Efficiency Grants for FY 2011

The objective of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite States, Indian Tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority to leverage their money and resources by cost sharing with Reclamation on projects that save water, improve energy efficiency, address endangered species and other environmental issues, and facilitate transfers to new uses.Water conservation, use of water markets, and improved efficiency are crucial elements of any plan to address western United States water issues. With leveraged water and energy efficiency grants, an important step will be taken towards increasing conservation for a more efficient use of water in the West.

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.

Integrated Process Improvements for Biochemical Conversion of Biomass Sugars: From Pretreatment to Substitutes for Petroleum-based Feedstocks, Products and Fuels

This Funding Opportunity Announcement seeks applications to develop and demonstrate integrated bench scale technology and/or process improvements, from pretreatment to substitutes for petroleum-based feedstocks, products, and fuels that better the economics and efficiency of biochemical conversion process. Typical improvements could be in enzyme production and efficiency (cellulases, hemicellulases, etc.); fuel synthesis cost and efficiency (fermentation organisms, catalysts, etc.); and specific improvements to the feedstock pretreatment or conditioning steps when operated in an integrated fashion. Close Date: 02/07/2011.


Global agricultural sustainability addressed in international journal

By 2050, world agricultural production needs to increase 70 to 100 percent in order to keep up with predicted population growth, and global agriculture is under pressure to meet this demand in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. “The Top 100 Questions of Importance to the Future of Global Agriculture,” published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, presents questions which are an imperative for agricultural producers, planners, and governments worldwide to focus on, address, and hopefully, collaborate on in order to insure adequate food production and distribution while limiting agriculture’s environmental impact.

No-till farming shows promise for greenhouse gas mitigation

A study by researchers at Purdue University found that no-till farming reduced emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, by 40 to 57 percent when compared with till farming (depending on the type of tillage). The report, "Soil Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Corn Following Three Decades of Tillage and Rotation Treatments,” was published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal; a summary is available on the Purdue University website.

Breeze from wind turbines may benefit crops

Researchers at Ames Laboratory have discovered that wind turbines on agricultural land create a flow of turbulence near the soil surface which has the potential to benefit crops in several ways. Increased turbulence near the ground likely creates a cooling effect in summer, and may help plants fend off mold infestations and absorb more carbon dioxide. A summary of the research can be found in the article "Wind Turbines on Farmland May Benefit Crops."


Summary and discussion of sustainability standards for farm energy

A guide to sustainability standards, “Sustainability Standards for Farm Energy,” is now available on the eXtension website. This peer-reviewed feature explains the concept of sustainability standards, discusses their applicability to various farm environmental impacts, and provides links to further resources.


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:
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 .

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

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.

Online class in Bioenergy Systems (ACES 409)

Tuesdays, January 18 – May 10, 6:30-9:00 PM

The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois is offering an online class in bioenergy systems (ACES 409) for the Spring 2011 semester. [...] ACES 409 Bioenergy Systems is an online introductory survey course of a wide range of bioenergy issues. Lectures will be presented by the course instructors as well as several experts from industry and academic research.

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.

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