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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

May 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

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.


More buzz about Enumclaw biodigester

"Dairies Get Their Manure Together," published on April 7, 2011, in Capital Press, provides a local perspective and additional information about a multi-farm biodigester planned for rural King County, Washington. The biodigester will be run by Rainier Biogas, which raised funds for the project, and at least three of 20 surrounding dairies will participate.

Giant concrete "cow’s stomach" is boon for Wisconsin dairy

"Pagel Power," published in April 2011 in Manure Manager, tells the story behind the anaerobic digester at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, a 4600-head dairy in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. The facility, in operation since 2008, provides bedding for the farm and renewable energy for the surrounding area. The facility runs on a unique hybrid plug flow and mix system, and is described by the manufacturer’s marketing manager as a "big cow stomach."

Sugar beet roundup from Biofuels Digest

"Low Cost Sugars? The Beet Goes On," published April 1, 2011, in Biofuels Digest, provides a synopsis of recent news and developments in the sugar beet biofuel industry. In addition, the article provides a link to a Biofuels Venture Valuation Tool, to which sugar beets have recently been added.

New low-temp biodigester has benefits for larger farms

A new kind of anaerobic biodigester operates at lower temperatures, maintaining a temperature approximately 20 to 50 degrees cooler than other common types. Potential benefits of the system include less waste heat, increased stability, a high level of automation, and excellent performance. The system is designed for average- to large- sized operations, and has been tested on three swine farms. To learn more, read "New Digester Operates at Low Temperatures," published April 27, 2011, in Progressive Dairyman.


Corn still an essential energy source for dairy cows

In "Keep Dairy Cows on Full Rations Despite High Corn Prices," Jennifer Shike of the University of Illinois explains why corn, despite rising prices, is still a good buy for dairy cow feed, especially when compared with the alternatives. In reality, according to Ohio State University models, corn is underpriced rather than overpriced when all factors are taken into consideration. This article was published on April 7, 2011, in on the eXtension website.


New rule for USDA REAP

An interim rule for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) was published in the Federal Register on April 14, 2011. The new guidance includes several important changes, including the eligibility of blender pumps for REAP funding, and an end to restrictions for non-rural farmers. Although the rule is already in effect, comments will be accepted until June 13, 2011.


Rural energy funds announced by USDA

Agricultural producers and rural small business are invited to submit applications for grants and loans under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The funds will be provided to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements, and conduct studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems. Applications are due on June 15 or June 30, 2011, depending on the type of project. To learn more, read the April 15, 2011, press release.

Funding for biomass research and development

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy will jointly offer up to $30 million to support the research and development of biomass feedstocks, biofuels, and bio-based products. Projects will be selected with an interdisciplinary focus spanning scientific research efforts, technological and logistical development, demonstration projects, and analytical tools. For more information, read the April 15, 2011, press release.


Renewable Power Opportunities for Rural Communities, published April 20, 2011, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides an assessment of renewable power opportunities for rural utilities, local governments, and other parties interested in renewable power, distributed generation, and rural economic development. The report is intended to assist in the prescreening of potential renewable energy projects, and provides a basis for further analysis and study.

Agriculture and Energy in Oregon, published in April 2011 by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, provides an overview and analysis of energy use on Oregon farms, and offers policy guidance and recommendations to promote agricultural energy efficiency, conservation, and the production of renewable energy. Among the report’s recommendations are a call to recognize fertilizer as an energy input, measures to improve the discoverability and ease of funding for renewable energy projects, and improved farm energy data collection.

Micro-hydro power guidance from ATTRA

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) recently released two publications about micro-hydro power on the farm:

"Micro-Hydro Power: Is It Right for my Farm?", published in January 2011, provides a basic introduction to micro-hydro power, and assists farmers in determining the suitability of micro-hydro for their particular situation.

"Micro-Hydro Power: A Beginners Guide to Design and Installation," published in February 2011, provides a complete guide to micro-hydro power, from the initial consideration stages to power production, storage, and use.

Harvesting Clean Energy answers your energy efficiency questions

Harvesting Clean Energy, an advocacy program for the Pacific Northwest which promotes clean and sustainable farm energy production and use, now has on hand an expert who will answer your energy efficiency-related questions. Q&A’s now exist on the topics of hoop houses and USDA REAP, and browsers are invited to submit further questions to be answered by email and/or posted on the site.


WPA Webinar: Transmission and Wind
May 18, 2011, 12:00 PM PST
This free webinar is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America 2011 webinar series. The speakers will focus on three activities that provide the opportunity to build additional transmission lines to get renewable energy to the market—Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZs), USDA's Rural Utilities Service, and Western Area Power Administration's (Western's) Transmission Infrastructure Program.

Rural Electricity Resource Council 2011 Conference: Next Steps to Expand Your Electric Efficiency Programs
May 23-25, Des Moines, Iowa
Rural power suppliers will share energy efficiency strategies at a national conference on May 23-25 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sponsored by the Rural Electricity Resource Council (, the agenda includes both power suppler presentations and "short course" training sessions. Topics to be covered include LED lighting results, methods for cutting peak demand for key accounts, and consumer education on small-scale renewables (summary from RERC press release).

Sixth AgSTAR National Conference
May 11-12, 2011, Boise, Idaho
Registration is now open for the Sixth AgSTAR National Conference, taking place in Boise, Idaho! The conference will include technical presentations on a variety of topics related to anaerobic digestion, expanded networking events, and an exhibit hall. We are also planning a tour of a local dairy farm anaerobic digestion system that will take place on Tuesday, May 10th.

Farm Energy webinar
Wednesday, May 11, 8:00-9:00 AM PST
The Farm Energy Webinar, presented by the Iowa State University Farm Energy Initiative, will offer "tips on conserving tractor fuel, energy efficient farm lighting, and more."

Food Policy from Neighborhood to Nation
May 19-21, 2011, Portland, Oregon
This is going be the most comprehensive national conference on local and state food policy in the US! Building on CFSC's 2009 Food Policy Council national gathering, this conference will bring together people from across North America who are working to influence local and state food, agriculture, or nutrition policy.

Harvesting Clean Energy Conference XI
October 23-25, 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.

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