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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

May 2014

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.


Farm Energy Success Stories 2014 Edition – Good for Farm Income, Good for Rural Economic Development and Good for Our Environment
This new report from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) highlights clean energy projects made possible with grants and loan guarantees from the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

Apply now for 2014 Rural Energy for America Funding reports that:

Farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses can apply now for grants and loan guarantees for clean energy projects under the Rural Energy for America Program – or REAP. REAP was renewed in the 2014 Farm Bill and supports a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, including wind, solar, biogas, biomass, small hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal, wave, and hydroelectric technologies.

The USDA accepts applications year round and people can apply now use existing application forms. Grants cover up to 25% of project costs. The loan guarantees facilitate lending by providing a guarantee of a portion of the principal to the lender. You can find more background information on REAP here.


Spring oilseed availability
An updated list of locations and availability of spring oilseed crop seed to assist growers with variety selection and purchasing decisions is available on the WSU Crop and Soil Sciences Biofuels Cropping Systems website. Winter canola seed is available at many of the same locations; an updated list will be posted later this spring on the website’s home page.

Poplars Designed for Deconstruction: A Major Boon to Biofuels
This article, published in the April 4, 2014 issue of Science describes “a rare, top-down approach to engineering plants – in this case poplars – for digestibility” identified by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"What began 20 years ago as an innovation to improve paper industry processes and dairy forage digestibility may now open the door to a much more energy- and cost-efficient way to convert biomass into fuel.

Oilseed among oil-producing crops that can serve as biodiesel feedstock
An article on oil-producing feedstocks that can be used in biodiesel production was published at on April 4, 2014. The article describes oilseed crops that are currently used for biodiesel production as well as potential oilseed crops and other sources of oil, such as animal fats and algae. A chart of feedstock yields and prices for biodiesel, as well as links to further information, are provided.

New—and More Economical—Pyrolysis Techniques for Bio-oil Production
This article in the April 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine examines “Fast pyrolysis, the process of rapidly heating biomass without oxygen, produces energy-dense bio-oil from wood, plants, and other carbon-based materials,” which is ”becoming one of the most promising methods for extracting the energy from tough plant materials to produce liquid fuels.”


Conductive cooling: Could it be the new cow comfort concept?
This article in Progressive Dairyman explains how conductive cooling could be used to help keep cows cool.

“Conductive cooling is basically the transfer of heat to cold between a warm surface and a cool surface, in a deep-bedded free stall, a heat exchanger panel is buried at a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Water flows through the chambers of the exchanger, which are made from a durable, high-density plastic. Depending on the temperature of the ground water, it may have to pass through a chiller before circulating through the system. Cooled water consistently and evenly flows through the chambers underneath the cow, thus carrying away the cow’s body heat to cool her.”


Growing Solar [Co-ops Offering Renewables]
The April 2014 issue of Rural Electric magazine provides a description of how "Co-ops big and small are sponsoring innovative community photovoltaic projects to meet member demand for renewables."


E3A Energy Efficiency and Alternatives
E3A provides free downloadable fact sheets, links to resources, and more to help you explore small renewable energy systems for your farm, ranch or home. Topics include anaerobic digesters, biodiesel, farm energy audits, micro-hydroelectricity, small wind, solar electricity, and solar hot water.

Farm Energy publications from National Center for Appropriate Technology
Biodiesel Production for On-Farm Use
Biodiesel Use, Handling, and Fuel Quality
Small-Scale Wind Energy on the Farm
Conserving Fuel on the Farm
Locally Owned Renewable Energy Facilities
Renewable Energy Opportunities on the Farm

Updated Fieldprint Calculator available from Field to Market
The updated Fieldprint Calculator is a free and confidential tool developed for corn, cotton, rice, wheat, potatoes and soybean growers. It allows growers to better understand and communicate how management choices affect overall sustainability performance and operational efficiency. The calculator estimates field-level performance on sustainability indicators including energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.


Webinar: Biomass Market Access Standards
May 13, 2014, 11:00 a.m. PST

Bio-based energies no longer automatically qualify toward renewable energy mandates. Instead, they must prove their environmental and social credentials through verification systems that demonstrate achievement beyond fossil energy baselines. Several private standards have emerged in recent years to assist the sector in meeting certification requirements in Europe and the United States. Standards represent a paradigm shift—for the first time, many producers must formally account for their environmental and social impacts. Even where compliance standards are not applied, increasingly bio-based businesses require some form of sustainability assessment for business-to-business transactions. Assessments also can provide value to producers by identifying ways in which to increase operational efficiency.

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology May 12-15, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology is the only event of its kind, bringing together industry leaders in advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals. The conference features Plenary Sessions, Breakout Sessions, Workshops, Clean Tech Investor Sessions, BIO One-on-One Partnering™ meetings, Poster Presentations, an Exhibit Hall and several Networking Receptions.

IDEA 2014 – Moving Community Energy Forward, 105th Annual Conference & Trade Show
June 8-11, 2014, Seattle Washington

With a focus on peer exchange, best practices and business development, the IDEA annual conference has shaped the dialogue on community-based energy systems, emphasized the importance of thermal energy and provided a world-class marketplace for experienced practitioners and qualified suppliers.

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