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In the News: September/October 2008

October 10, 2008  by Manure Manager

The Ag Carbon Markets
Working Group (ACMWG) recently launched a new website aimed at helping
farmers understand the potential financial benefits of climate
legislation currently pending before Congress.

New website launched
The Ag Carbon Markets Working Group (ACMWG) recently launched a new website aimed at helping farmers understand the potential financial benefits of climate legislation currently pending before Congress.

Under the Lieberman Warner Climate Security Act, which is now before the Senate, U.S. agricultural producers could receive billions of dollars annually from offset markets or choose to participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture carbon conservation program funded by the climate market. These new markets are not assured as the final bill has not passed the Senate floor, and the House has yet to announce their own version of a climate bill.

“Our website will help farmers better understand the value of agriculture offsets like methane capture and soil carbon sequestration,” said Laura Sands, coordinator of the Ag Carbon Markets Working Group. “(It) is a resource driven site that hopes to pull all of the material about ag offsets into one location to make it as easy as possible for interested parties to learn more.”

Current estimates of U.S. greenhouse gas markets indicate that U.S. farms have the potential to mitigate as much as 40 percent of the nation’s total climate impact with practices such as soil carbon sequestration or methane capture.


AAESC granted Canadian rights to anaerobic digester
American Alternative Energy Systems Corp. (AAESC), a company involved in renewable energy systems, recently concluded an agreement to grant Canadian rights to its anaerobic digester system to Canadian Alternative Renewable Energy Systems Inc. (CARES).

American Alternative Energy Systems will receive $1 million for the initial rights and three percent of all sales generated by the anaerobic digester system. Plans were to have systems in operation at selective sites throughout Canada by May 1, 2008.

The digester market is small in Canada with an estimated 10 digesters compared to roughly 100 in the U.S. and 2,400 in Europe. AAESC’s goal is to become Canada’s market leader in digesters.

Extension soil fertility web site updated
The soil fertility web site at Iowa State University Extension has a new look. The Iowa State University Agronomy Extension Soil Fertility web site has undergone a recent redesign. Part of the web site’s overhaul includes implementation of a new section located on the home page called Current Topic. In this section, extension staff will contribute timely articles on current soil fertility and nutrient management issues in Iowa crop production. The most recent article will be posted on the home page, as well as links to the past three articles. To read the full article (PDF format), simply click on the Read on link. To read one of the Recent Current Topic articles, click on one of the three listed article links. The Past Current Topics section has a link leading to a listing of all Current Topic articles. Visitors are urged to check back often to find new articles and to look for other information related to soil fertility and nutrient management.

PSE signs agreement with Farm Power
Puget Sound Energy officials recently announced they had reached a memorandum of understanding with Farm Power Northwest, LLC, of Skagit County to develop a dairy digester facility to produce electric power from manure.

PSE, in conjunction with Farm Power founders Kevin and Daryl Maas of Mount Vernon, signed the agreement as a first step toward the generation of up to 1.5 megawatts (MW) of electric power – enough to meet the needs of 1,000 households. Under the agreement, PSE will purchase electricity generated by Farm Power as well as the associated renewable energy credits resulting from the renewable energy source.

At present, Farm Power has manure commitments from four dairy farmers west of Mount Vernon and is permitting a site located near them. The manure will be used in the generation of power by warming it in the digester to spur microbes to produce methane gas. The methane then fuels electrical generators, with the excess heat being used to warm additional manure and continue the electrical generation cycle.

In addition to the expected 1.5 MW of electricity, byproducts will include sanitary bedding for use with dairy cattle and a more environmentally compatible liquid fertilizer to be stored in the farms’ holding lagoons. Compared with unprocessed manure, the nitrogen in this liquid is easier for plants to absorb and is less likely to mix with rain runoff.

USDA awards California conservation contracts
Lincoln Burton, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California, recently announced statewide distribution of conservation cost share contracts has been completed for fiscal year 2008.

According to Burton, 1,078 farmers and ranchers are receiving contracts totaling nearly $39 million under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). “Agricultural producers work hard to find the best ways to be economically and environmentally sustainable,” says Burton. “EQIP helps us combine the vital work of conservation planning for the landscape with an economic assistance tool to implement needed improvements on a scheduled timetable.”

Some of the most popular conservation improvements funded this year include air quality improvements (e.g. cleaner engines and dust control on farm roads), and nutrient planning and management on dairies. An NRCS spokesperson said $5.7 million was awarded for manure management, with the vast majority going to dairy projects. This includes manure transfer lines, waste storage facilities including liners and covers, and separators. Additionally, technical assistance helps farmers put together a plan for how to separate, store and apply the liquid and solid portions of the manure to be profitably used as fertilizer on cropland. Funding overall in California decreased 19 percent due to the expiration of key programs in the 2002 farm bill that had funded the Klamath Basin and other ground and surface water projects. Consequently, EQIP funding was lower in almost every county in California.


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