Cutting Fertilizer Use Goal of New Energy Estimator

Cindy Zimmerman Government

USDA USDA has released it’s new Energy Estimator for Nitrogen to help farmers and ranchers identify potential nitrogen cost savings associated with major crops and commercial nitrogen fertilizer applications. According to the USDA news release, nitrogen fertilizer is one of the largest indirect uses of energy on an agricultural operation. Fertilizer accounts for 29 percent of agriculture’s energy use, according to USDA research data. Proper management of nitrogen fertilizer, including the use of organic sources of nitrogen such as animal manure and cover crops, can save producers energy and money.
So, the government is encouraging farmers to find alternatives to nitrogen fertilizer, or at least to use less of it. That will also help make us more energy independent in the long term.
The new Energy Estimator can be found here.
I will probably have an interview on this topic with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Bruce Knight next week. Any questions you would like me to ask him?

(Note from Cindy: My interview with Bruce Knight was cancelled last week because of scheduling and the fact that he had laryngitis. I have interviewed “the chief” three times since the first of this year so at this point we are probably not going to do this particular interview after all. Maybe at a later date.)

Government

Loan Guarantee to Fund Biodiesel Plant

Cindy Zimmerman Biodiesel

USDA RD A Clinton, Iowa biodiesel plant is getting a $3.2 million loan guarentee from USDA’s Rural Development Agency, according to a release from USDA today. The Rural Development Renewable Energy Systems loan guarantee will be used to partially fund construction and operation of a biodiesel production plant with a yearly capacity of 10 million gallons. The plant will use over 7 million bushels of Midwestern grown soybeans a year. Additionally, the plant will use its own by-products to provide much of its energy supply. It is owned by Clinton County Bio Energy, LLC, which includes local farmers and business operators. When completed, the plant will provide at least nine new jobs. It is the first production facility to be located in a new 233 acre industrial park in Clinton. USDA also announced the awarding of 14 energy-related grants today – most for various power project in Alabama, Alaska and Arizona. Must be going in alphabetical order…

Biodiesel

Record Production in ’05

Cindy Zimmerman Ethanol

RFA It should be no surprise to anyone that ethanol production set a record in 2005. The Renewable Fuels Association released the official figures today from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The total for the year came in at just under 4 billion gallons (3.904 billion gallons) and averaging nearly 255,000 barrels of ethanol production daily (b/d). The month of December also set production and demand records. Ethanol production in December rose 5,000 b/d from the previous month to 280,000 b/d. Demand skyrocketed to 310,000 b/d, breaking the old record of 297,000 b/d. And if I was a betting person, I would say that 2006 will be another record breaking year for ethanol production.

Ethanol

Biodiesel Interview From the Barn

Cindy Zimmerman Biodiesel

BarnDeere John Deere has been making efforts to encourage the use of biodiesel in it’s tractors and combines, at least on a small scale. ZimmComm contributing blogger Andy Vance of Ohio interviewed John Deere’s Barry Nelson about those efforts at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. Listen to the interview here. Andy has become a regular contributor for us on World Dairy Diary recently. He and his wife Lindsay Hill operate the Buckeye Ag Radio Network – the BARN – in Ohio. Kind of like me and my spouse – only we have no barn and we’ve already done the farm network thing, but we are still basically in the same business.

Biodiesel

New Techno-Algae For Biofuels

Cindy Zimmerman Biodiesel, Ethanol

Veridium Apparently this was Veridium’s week to send out press releases – here is the third in the series, this one announcing its new patent-pending technology for the conversion of exhaust carbon dioxide from the fermentation stage of ethanol production facilities back into new ethanol and biodiesel. This is high-technology using algae – yep, that nasty slimy stuff that grows in stagnant water. Apparently, according to the release, they discovered a new strain of iron-loving blue-green algae thriving in a hot stream at Yellowstone National Park. The algae use the available carbon dioxide and water to grow new algae, giving off pure oxygen and water vapor in the process. David Winsness, chief executive officer of Veridium’s industrial design division explains, “The algae convert exhaust carbon dioxide and sunlight into biomass. This biomass is a very efficient feedstock for ethanol production and is itself a concentrated source of the primary ingredient of ethanol.”
Way cool.

Biodiesel, Ethanol

Tori Fully Loaded – with Biodiesel

Cindy Zimmerman Biodiesel

Biodiesel VW A biodiesel-powered Volkswagen Golf TDI named “Tori” paid a visit to the offices of the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, MO this week. Tori also brought engineer Oliver Wegener and driver Jon Hamilton (pictured) along for the ride, as well as crew member Daniel Sycks (not pictured). They will constitute the only diesel vehicle entry in Friday and Saturday’s 100 Acre Wood Rally race in Salem, Mo. According to information from the NBB, RallyVW is based out of Ohio and has received international press coverage for racing not only a diesel car, but a diesel car on B20 biodiesel. RallyVW’s record-setting car has garnered the honors of current Pike’s Peak international holder for diesel powered auto and the 2002 production class national champion. The crew told the NBB staff they strive to promote biodiesel every step of the way. All of RallyVW’s crew drive biodiesel powered personal vehicles.

Biodiesel

Commentary Questions Need for Ethanol Tariff

Cindy Zimmerman Ethanol, Government

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal this week entitled “What’s Wrong With Free Trade In Biofuels?” questions the need for tariffs on low cost ethanol from Brazil if we are really serious about energy security in this country. As Hollman W. Jenkins words it – “The U.S. imposes a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol, to discourage competition with domestic ethanol, which receives a 54-cent subsidy from taxpayers. … This should lay bare the fraud that what’s going here has anything to do with energy security. It has only to do with the agricultural lobby masquerading its interests behind foolish and misleading rhetoric about energy security.”
I would suspect that the tariff is likely to go away at some point, assuming that someday a World Trade Agreement will be reached. In the meantime, I will make a couple of points in support of the tariff in the short term.
First of all, as anyone knows, Brazil has access to an abundance of cheap labor – due mainly to the fact that they don’t have the stringent labor laws that we do here in the United States. No requirements for workers comp, unemployment, health insurance, etc. That is one of the main reasons they can produce ethanol so cheaply. So, the tariff is a way of “leveling the playing field” – at least for now. It’s one of the major reasons we have a tariff on Brazilian orange juice, for example.
Second, the point is made that we are talking about energy SECURITY. That would mean trying to have most of our energy come from sources here in our own country. Why would we want to transfer our energy dependence from the Middle East to some other country because they produce alternative fuel cheaper than we do? Doesn’t make any sense to me. It does make sense to help the domestic industry grow with reasonable subsidies and such – but I think there should at the same time be a plan to wean from that assistance once the industry gets old enough.
People can complain about farm subsidies all they want, but the fact is that our country without question has the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the entire world. And that is very much due to the fact that we have helped to support our farmers so that our country would not have to rely on other countries for our food supply – in other words, so we would have “food security.” The portion of the national budget that goes to “farm subsidies” is less than one half of one percent. Even within the USDA budget, only about 22 percent goes to farm and commodity programs, while 56 percent goes to domestic food assistance programs – and most of the rest to conservation, forestry, research and rural development. (source: USDA) The pay off is that we spend less than ten percent of our disposable personal income on food – an incredible bargain by anyone’s standards. Maybe with a little bit of subsidizing the same thing can be done for energy.

Ethanol, Government

Midwest Poised To Become Next Middle East

Cindy Zimmerman Ethanol

ICM An Associated Press story with a Kansas dateline is getting some good pick-up around the country. The article focuses on the ethanol distribution business and it mentions numerous big companies in the ethanol business including Colwich, Kan.-based ICM Inc., the nation’s largest designer of ethanol plants. The article notes that a small group of fuel distributors and ethanol barons stand to make a mint shipping the alternative fuel from the Midwest, where it’s made, to major urban markets on both coasts. In other words, as this ethanol business grows, the Midwest stands to become the next Middle East – holding a pretty big piece of the production pie. Let’s face it, the vast majority of the 95 ethanol plants currently in operation are located in the Midwest. There’s only a handful of mostly small facilities located outside of the corn belt, with a few more planned. Even taking those into account, total non-Midwest ethanol production capacity is about five percent of the nearly 6.5 billion gallons per year estimated for the country as a whole (source: RFA) So, point being, even once the industry starts using more sources other than corn to make ethanol – the majority of the plants will still be located here in the nation’s mid section, giving a great boost to our rural economies. Not a bad thing in my book.

Ethanol

First Corn Oil Extraction System Order Placed

Cindy Zimmerman Ethanol

VeridiumGlacial Lakes Glacial Lakes Energy of South Dakota has become the first ethanol production company to put in an order for Veridium’s patent-pending Corn Oil Extraction System. According to a Business Wire release, a manually controlled system is up and running today at Glacial Lakes’ Watertown, South Dakota ethanol production facility, where it is extracting corn oil now at a rate of about 0.8 million gallons per year. This rate will be increased to between 1.2 to 1.5 million gallons per year in the immediate term after Veridium installs additional technology in the system.
The release quotes Tom Branhan, chief executive officer of Glacial Lakes Energy as saying, “I have been a believer of this technology and have actively supported its development from the very first day it was introduced to me by David Winsness and his team. Veridium’s technology allows to significantly increase our profitability and I am proud to say that Glacial Lakes is the first ethanol producer to install Veridium’s Corn Oil Extraction System(TM).”

Ethanol

Veridium/Mean Green Deal to Make Biodiesel from Corn Oil

Cindy Zimmerman Biodiesel, Ethanol

Veridium Mean Green The marriage of Veridium Corporation and Mean Green Biofuels announced earlier this month (see previous post) is now resulting in the former selling corn oil to the latter to make into biodiesel. Quite frankly, not being a big business reporter, it’s all complicated corporate manuevering to me – but here’s the link to today’s press release that explains it for those who understand that kind of stuff. Near as I can figure it, parent company GreenShift arranged the marriage of these two baby companies to trade off the technology and by-products of the ethanol and biodiesel business. Okay, so that’s the simplified version – for simple people like me. It is complicated, but I know the bottom line is there is some really cool stuff going on with these companies that is going to result in more ethanol/biodiesel joint ventures in the future.

Biodiesel, Ethanol