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EnergyAg Newsbriefs

November 2010

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.


Oroville plant to produce canola oil for biofuel use

A plant in Oroville, Washington, is in the final stages of planning for a facility which will crush canola seeds to extract oil for use as a mechanical lubricant and diesel fuel additive. At the onset, most of the canola seed will come from farms in Canada, but the company is looking into procuring seed from local farms as well. To learn more, read "Oroville One Step Closer to Producing Canola Oil" on the Sustainable Oroville website.

Lynden anaerobic digester will harvest methane from the waste of 2,000 cows

Farm Power Lynden, a biopower project in Whatcom County, Washington, will begin processing the waste of over 2,000 local cows when it fires up its $3.9 million anaerobic digester this month. The methane gas generated by the digester is expected to produce enough electricity to power approximately 500 homes. To learn more, read "Second Lynden-Area Digester to Begin Producing Electricity from Cow Manure" in the October 28 issue of the Bellingham Herald.

Biofuels standard presents both challenges and opportunities for PNW farmers

In "Biofuel Standard Poses Challenge," Dave Wilkins of Capital Press quotes Dick Rush, Idaho Farm Services Agency representative, on the challenges farmers in the Pacific Northwest face in contributing to the growing biofuels indsutry. This article was posted on the Capital Press website on October 28, 2810.


Wal-Mart to procure more produce from small and local farms

Wall-Mart recently announced a commitment to purchase a greater percentage of its produce from local farms (defined as within the same state), and pledged to support small and medium growers, in a series of new industry measures developed in cooperation with World Wildlife Fund representative Matt Guyer. To learn more, see "Wal-Mart's Plan for Small Farmers Expands Private-Sector Climate Agenda" in EE News.


USDA report examines the economic impact of biofuel standards

"Effects of Increased Biofuels on the U.S. Economy in 2022," is a research report released in October by the USDA Economic Research Service. It examines the effect of the Renewable Fuel Standard on the economy, taking into account the variables of oil prices, biofuel production costs, and tax credits.

NAS model shows livestock demand will outpace planet’s threshold if not checked

A recent report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that if the current rate of growth continues, livestock production alone will account for 70% of what is considered a safe planetary level of greenhouse gas emissions. The report, Forecasting potential global environmental costs of livestock production 2000–2050, can be downloaded from the PNAS website (fee required). An article about the report, "Livestock Production will Push Earth’s Limits," appears in Discovery News.

USDA agricultural research bears fruit

The November/December issue of Agricultural Research contains three articles relevant to the topics of energy and agriculture:

"In Peoria, a Brisk Business in Biodiesel Research" explores the participation of the USDA Agricultural Research Service in the research and development of biomass crops. In particular, the research center’s investigation into pennycress is described.

"New Fuels from an Ancient Crop" describes the research and development the USDA Agricultural Research Service has undertaken into the development of bio-oil from barley.

"CO2 in Soil Easily Measured" describes a new method of measuring soil carbon dioxide decomposition rates which is faster, easier, and less costly than former methods. The method, developed by biological scientist Lucretia Sherrod, can be duplicated easily by any laboratory for immediate use.


Save energy on the farm by increasing the efficiency of electric motors

"Energy Efficiency of Electric Motors on the Farm" is a web feature from the Farm Energy section of eXtension. The article covers all aspects of electric motor efficiency on the farm, including motor comparisons, variable speed drives, calculating costs and payback, and motor maintenance.

Efficient greenhouse heating cuts costs

"Combat Higher Fuel Prices with Efficient Heating Systems," a web feature from the Farm Energy section of eXtension, describes strategies and methods for an efficient greenhouse heating system. Topics covered include furnace servicing, heat exchangers, combustion, and heat distribution.


Wind turbines bolster economy in rural Klickitat County

"Wind Is the New Cash Crop in Rural Wash. Town," by Anne Mulkern of Greenwire, examines the transformation of Klickitat County, Washington, from an economically troubled rural community with few options, to an epicenter of wind development with as much capacity as the entire state of Colorado. This article was carried in the New York Times.

Oregon Public Health examines wind energy impact

The State of Oregon is currently conducting a Health Impact Assessment to examine any potential health impacts of increased wind energy facilities on communities and individuals in Oregon. An online survey will be released on November 10, and three public comment sessions will take place this month in La Grande, Pendleton, and Arlington. Information about this project is available on the state’s website.


New USDA measures promote biomass research and development

On October 21st, Tom Vilsack announced a series of measures to promote the production and use of fuel from renewable sources. Included is a final rule which continues the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which provides assistance for the production and development of biofuel crops. Also included is an agreement to produce aviation fuel from forest and crop residues. For information, see the press release on the USDA website.

Final rule for Biomass Crop Assistance Program published

On October 27, 2010, USDA published in the Federal Register the final rule implementing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks. Read a fact sheet about the final rule provisions on the USDA website.


Washington State Bioenergy Research Symposium
November 8, 2010, Seattle, WA
From anaerobic digestion to pyrolysis, the Washington State Bioenergy Research Symposium will explore and examine in depth the full scope of research efforts in the Northwest with a focus on Washington State's leadership in bioenergy development.

Future Energy Conference
November 9-10, 2010, Seattle, WA
The Future Energy Conference offers a forum to connect those developing strategies for energy security and economic development with the businesses making it happen. Subject matter includes energy policy for projects and jobs; renewable electricity and fuels; and energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

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.

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.

Biogas Workshops
Various dates and locations
The Complete Biogas Handbook is presenting a two-day beginner's workshop in several places around the country offering complete information about "how to understand, successfully make, and properly use biogas ... and how to make simple, effective, low–cost digesters." See link for locations and dates.

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