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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

June 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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Options for Farmers with Delayed Planting from Wet Conditions

Cool and extremely wet weather in the Northwest has caused crop damage and slowed planting this spring. Dave Paul, Director of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Spokane Regional Office, encourages producers faced with questions on prevented planting, replant, or crop losses this spring, to contact their agent for more information.


Largest biogas dairy project in U.S. planned

The development process is officially underway for what is claimed to be the largest biogas dairy project in the U.S. The operation, run by London-based Camco International Ltd., will involve multiple anaerobic digesters in Idaho, and is expected to generate 4.5 Mw of electricity. For information, read "Camco to Launch Largest Dairy Biogas Project in North America," published May 19, 2011, on the Biomass Power and Thermal website.

Profile of Oregon biodigester highlights innovation

"Biogas Digester at Oregon's Lochmead Farms Turns Manure and Methane into Power," published Thursday, May 19, 2011, in Oregon Live, provides insight and background into the acquisition and operation of a low-temperature anaerobic digester on one Oregon family farm. The article provides a discussion of the economics involved in the operation, and is also rich with anecdotes derived from personal interviews with the dairy farm’s operators as well as the builders and owners of the biodigester facility.

Biochar’s benefits to be tested in field trials

The North Carolina Farm Center for Innovation and Sustainability will conduct a series of controlled field trials to determine the efficacy of biochar as a soil amendment, and to assess the compatibility of biochar production and field distribution methods with existing farm equipment and procedures. For information, read "The North Carolina Farm Center for Innovation and Sustainability: Setting Up Large Scale Biochar Field Trials," published in May 2011 on the International Biochar Initiative website.


Idaho partnership to investigate dairy industry sustainability measures

A three-way partnership between the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the Dairy Research Institute, and Idaho’s Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) will investigate best practices for sustainability, environmental stewardship, and lifecycle analysis for Idaho dairies. The partnership will focus on improvements and innovation in manure management; renewable energy adoption and production; grid infrastructure and energy incentives; funding and research; and the economic development of new technologies. To learn more, read the May 11, 2011, press release.

USDA selects first BCAP project area

The first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project area was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on May 5, 2011. Farmers within the 50,000 acre area, which covers parts of Missouri and Kansas, can apply for financial assistance from USDA to grow native grasses and herbaceous plants for the purpose of energy production. Up to 75% of the costs of crop establishment may be covered. For information, read the May 5, 2011, news release.

House votes to cut REAP; BCAP

On May 24, 2011, the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee voted to eliminate funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). REAP has provided financial assistance for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for over 6000 farmers and rural small businesses since its inception in 2003. BCAP, designed to help farmers finance the development of dedicated biofuel crops, announced its first dedicated project area less than a month prior to the committee vote. For information, read "House Eliminates REAP and Energy Crop Programs," published May 24, 2011, at, or "House Subcommittee Drops Farm Bill Energy Programs in Budget," published May 25, 2011, at

Peer reviewers needed for Farmers Market Promotion Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is requesting assistance in reviewing proposals for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) 2011 grant cycle. Farmers who are direct marketers and those experienced with electronic benefits transfer (EBT) projects are particularly encouraged to apply. For information, read the May 24, 2011, press release.


Cellulosic biofuels webinar recordings now available

Recordings from the 2010 Cellulosic Biofuels Web Seminar Series, facilitated by John Hay, University of Nebraska Extension, and presented by eXtension and the High Plains Extension Energy Team, are now available on the eXtension website. Topics include: State of the Industry; Economics of Cellulosic Biofuels; Cellulosic Biofuel Logistics; and Contracts for Cellulosic Biomass.

New issue of Agricultural Research

The May/June issue of Agricultural Research, a publication of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), is now available for download. This issue features a series of articles on blueberries, and also contains articles on feedlot manure, the environmental benefits of pasturing cows, and a description of software which helps farmers detect crop growth changes.


Solar energy system powers dairy

A large dairy in Hanford, California, produces 75% of its electricity needs with a four-acre array of solar panels and two converters. The new system supplies electricity for the farm’s essential operations, and has produced a positive cash outflow even during the loan repayment period. To learn more, read "7,000-Cow Dairy Now Powered By Solar Energy," published May 25, 2011, in Progressive Dairyman.


Biomass R&D grants awarded by USDA/DOE

Eight research and development projects in biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products were selected to receive $42 million in funds through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture. To learn more and see the list of projects, read the May 5, 2011, press release.

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – Feasibility
Closing date: June 30, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requests proposals for Rural Energy for America Program - Feasibility. This program will provide support to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. $2 million is expected to be available; up to 75 awards are anticipated.

REAP - Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance
Closing date: June 30, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requests proposals for Rural Energy for America Program - Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance. This program will support energy audits and renewable energy development assistance; $2.8 million is expected to be available, and up to 30 awards are anticipated.

REAP-Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements
Closing date: June 15, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requests proposals for Rural Energy for America Program - Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements and Guaranteed Loans. This program will provide grants and loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. More than $51 million is expected to be available; individual awards are not to exceed $500K.


Small Wind Conference
June 14-15, 2011, Stevens Point, WI
The 7th annual Small Wind Conference on June 14-15, 2011, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin is the premier event for small wind-electric system installers, designers, manufacturers, educators and advocates, and for those involved in sales, specification, management, funding, and permitting of small wind systems.

Irrigation Efficiency - Pipeline Distribution Systems (Webinar)
June 21, 2011, 8:00 AM PST
This 1+ hour webinar will evaluate irrigation pipeline designs to assess the energy required and the long term economics of different pipeline sizes. This presentation is targeted for training extension educators and service providers in the US North Central region. Others are welcome to join.

Harvesting Clean Energy Conference XI
October 23-25, 2011, Boise, Idaho
Join us in Boise in 2011 for another successful Harvesting Clean Energy conference. We will feature panel discussions designed to answer questions including: How can farmers, ranchers, food processors and rural communities prosper in the new energy economy? Where are your best opportunities in: wind power, solar technologies, geothermal, small hydro, biomass or biofuels, upgrading to energy efficient equipment? What financing, technical expertise, and partners are available to help? If you are interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the 2011 Harvesting Clean Energy conference, please contact Dana Colwell: 253-445-4575.

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