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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

March 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.


Scientists collaborate to improve agricultural resiliency in the inland Northwest

Regional Approaches to Climate Change in Pacific Northwest Agriculture (REACCH) is collaborative project involving scientists from the University of Idaho, University of Oregon, Washington State University, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The group’s focus is to increase the sustainability and resiliency of inland Pacific Northwest grain production systems in the face of climate change, while reducing agriculture’s carbon impact. The consortium will also work to improve understanding of the interrelationship between climate change and agriculture.

USDA report on climate change and agriculture

Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation is a peer-reviewed study released on February 5, 2013, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This report examines the current and future impacts of climate change on U.S. agricultural systems over the next 25 years, and presents strategies for adaptation such as management for increased resiliency, the development of stress-tolerant plants, and new approaches to soil and water conservation.

Agricultural resilience video series

A video series by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Climate Change, Agriculture, and Resilience, provides a glimpse into the sustainability practices of individual farmers. Each video shows methods and techniques that help a single farm remain resilient in the face of weather variations and drought. The fourth video of the series, published February 21, 2013, features Brownfield Orchards in Chelan, Washington.


Cover crop forage system for dairy

A new fact sheet from SARE, Alternative Continuous-Cover Dairy Forage System for Profitability, Flexibility and Soil Health, was published in November 2012; a February 5, 2013, press release provides an overview. This document describes a flexible, resilient dairy forage system based on a rotation of grains, corn, and alfalfa. The alternative continuous-cover forage system (ACCF) creates yields similar to traditional systems while reducing tillage, extending the growing season, reducing nitrogen runoff, and increasing milk supply.

Energy-saving dairy practices

"California Dairy Shows Little Things Equal Sustainability," written by Walt Cooley, Editor, Progressive Dairyman, and posted on that journal's website on January 15, 2013. Reduced parlor on-time, automated driving, and lighter-weight farm vehicles are three examples of how energy is being saved at a California dairy.


Food hub report from USDA

The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing is a 56-page report published February 26, 2013, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This report/guidance document provides an in-depth description and analysis of food hubs, with sections on business structure, the role and function of food hubs, risk reduction, constraints, and the regulatory environment. A roadmap for food hub development is included, as are many case studies and examples.


Carbon offset money awarded to energy efficiency projects

Money voluntarily obtained from the BP Cherry Point Refinery to offset carbon dioxide emissions was awarded to three projects by the Northwest Clean Air Agency in February 2013. A portion of the funding will go to the Washington State University Energy Program to conduct comprehensive energy assessments at dairy farms in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. To learn more, read “$3.2 million awarded for Whatcom projects to reduce greenhouse gases,” published February 25, 2013, in the Bellingham Herald.


IATP weighs in on neglected Farm Bill

The End of the Farm Bill?” was written February 4, 2013, by Jim Harkness, president, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). This article laments the atrophy of the Farm Bill through neglect and funding cuts, chastises politicians for their apparent lack of concern for American agriculture, and expresses hope that future farm policies can be developed which value the needs of farmers and society over those of corporations.

Final rule identifies canola and energy cane for RFS

As of February 2013, camelina and energy cane have been identified as acceptable components in the production of renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The rule also explicitly includes jet fuel under RFS. To learn more, see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Final Rule to Identify Additional Fuel Pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS), or read an EPA fact sheet.


New protocol alters carbon measurement from no-till

Research by University of Illinois soil scientist Kenneth Olsen found that rather than sequestering atmospheric carbon, no-till systems reduce the rate of carbon loss by building and retaining organic matter in the soil. The carbon is released into the atmosphere, albeit at a slower rate. The study was designed to refine and improve the way carbon sequestration rates are measured. To learn more, see “New Protocol Recommendations for Measuring Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration,” published February 1, 2013, at ACES College News.

Corn cob removal ok by USDA

"Corn Cobs On Deck for Cellulosic Feedstock," by staff, was included in the January 2013 issue of Agricultural Research, a USDA publication. It reports on field research showing that removing post-harvest corn cobs from soil protected by a mix of plant residue resulted in no overall effect on the amount of protection the remaining residue offered.


Oilseed production conference materials

Conference materials are now available from the 2013 Oilseed Production and Marketing Conference, held January 22-23, 2013, in Kennewick, Washington. Slides and notes from 29 workshops and presentations are available on the topic of oilseed agronomy, processing, economics, marketing, and end use.


Webinar: Energy Efficient Milk Production
March 5, 2013, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM PST
What is an energy efficient dairy farm? That will be answered along with how to trim energy costs from your dairy’s energy budget to get there. The presentation will cover refrigeration systems, milk cooling, water heating, heat recovery, the use of variable speed drives for vacuum pumps and milk pumps, ventilation and water fountains. This program is one of a series of Ag Energy Webinars presented by University of Wisconsin Extension.

Optimizing Irrigation Efficiency
March 19, 2013, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM PST
Delivery of irrigation water through farm irrigation systems from ground or surface water sources to the field requires the addition of energy. The amount of energy that must be added is affected by the type of irrigation delivery system, system pressure, elevation difference between the field and the water source, inches of water applied, and the land area being irrigated. This presentation will cover some of the things that can be done to an existing system to reduce energy costs. This program is one of a series of Ag Energy Webinars presented by University of Wisconsin Extension.

Researcher and Farmer Innovation to Increase Nitrogen Cycling on Organic Farms
Webinar, April 23, 2013, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM PST
The webinar will cover the design and results of an OREI project to assess the variation in how farmers manage nitrogen differently in organic processing tomato production in California, and to learn how their management affects N cycling, soil organic matter, microbial communities, plant root genes for nitrogen assimilation, and yield. We will put these results in the context of nitrogen cycling and availability in organic systems in general and some strategies to increase nitrogen cycling and yields without minimal nitrogen losses. The intended audience is researchers, extension workers and farmers.

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