<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    Consultation is under way on a £50 million (€74/US$101million) renewable energy plant planned for the South Wales Valleys. Anglo-Dutch company Express Power plans to build a wood-fuelled biomass plant on Rassau Industrial Estate in Blaenau Gwent. The plant will generate an annual 160,000 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of green electricity for Wales from forestry, recycled wood and wood derivatives. ICWales - July 27, 2007.

    The price of New York crude leapt to 77.24 dollar a barrel on Thursday, marking the highest level since August 9, 2006, as keen global demand and tight supplies fuelled speculative buying, traders said. On Wednesday, the US government had revealed that inventories of American crude fell by 1.1 million barrels last week. France24 - July 26, 2007.

    Arriva, one of Europe's largest transport groups is trialling B20 biodiesel for the first time on 75 of its buses. The company is aiming to reduce total carbon emissions by around 14 per cent by using biodiesel as a 20 per cent blend (predominantly be a mixture of sustainable soya products, along with used cooking oil and tallow). The 75 buses in the innovative trial will carry around 130,000 passengers every week. Minimal engineering changes will be required to the fleet as part of the scheme. Arriva - July 26, 2007.

    Marathon Oil Corporation announces that it has completed two more projects adding biodiesel blended fuel at its Robinson and Champaign terminals in Illinois. The terminals now feature in-line ratio blending in order to provide soy-based B-2 (two percent biodiesel) and B-11 (eleven percent biodiesel). Marathon Oil - July 25, 2007.

    Norway-based renewable energy firm Global Green One has agreed to set up a € 101.6 million bioethanol plant in Békéscsaba (southeast Hungary), with more facilities planned for Kalocsa, Szombathely and Kõszeg, the latter of which was already a target for a €25 million plant in May this year. The Békéscsaba plant would process 200,000 tonnes of maize per year, employing around 100 people. The logistics part of the facility would also create 100 jobs. The company expects the factory to generate €65 million in revenues each year. Portfolio - July 25, 2007.

    A Canadian firm, Buchanan Renewable Energies, is to begin an investment into Liberia's biomass industry that will grow to US$20 million in October and offer 300 jobs by end of the year. The company will start shipping 90 major pieces of equipment to Liberia by the end of August. Daily Observer (Monrovia) - July 24, 2007.

    KNM Process Systems Sdn Bhd, has secured a RM122 million (€26/$36m) order to build a biodiesel plant in Pahang, Malaysia, for Mission Biofuels Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Australian biofuels company Mission Biofuels Ltd. The plant will have a biodiesel output of 750 tonnes per day and glycerine output of 82 tonnes per day. Malaysia Business Times - July 24, 2007.

    AlgoDyne Ethanol Energy Inc. confirms that its retail partner, Canadian Green Fuels, has entered into an agreement with Cansource BioFuels to open a new biodiesel production facility in Mayerthorpe Alberta. The deal will see the construction and development of a community based, integrated crushing and biodiesel facility to process 10 million litres of ASTM certified canola based biodiesel which will be scaled up to produce 40million litres by 2010. BusinessWire - July 23, 2007.

    The Center for Management Technology announces the second Biomass-to-Liquids Technology conference will take place in Vienna this year, from 12 to 13 September. The current state of BTL-technologies will be presented and discussed. Biomass-to-Liquids conversion pathways are seen by many as promising avenues into the world of second generation biofuels that relies on the use of a broad variety of possible biomass feedstocks. CMT - July 23, 2007.

    Gulf Ethanol Corporation, a Houston-based energy company, announced today that it has initiated negotiations with representatives of government and industry in Uruguay. Discussions, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, centered on the synergy between Gulf Ethanol's interest in exploiting the potential of sorghum as a non-food fuel stock for ethanol production and the ideal conditions for growing the crop in Uruguay. The company criticizes the use of food crops like corn for ethanol in the U.S. and is seeking alternatives. Yahoo Press Release - July 20, 2007.

    Dutch company Capella Capital N.V. announces its investment in BiogasPark N.V. and acquires a 20 % stake upon the foundation of the company. The remaining shares are held by the management and strategic investors. BiogasPark N.V. will invest in the field of renewable energy and primarily focuses on financing, purchasing and the maintenance of biogas plant facilities. Ad Hoc News - July 20, 2007.

    Bioenergy company Mascoma Corp. is to build the world's first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan where it will collaborate with Michigan State University. The $100 million plant will rely on the biochemical, enzymatic process that breaks down biomass to convert it to sugars. One of the factors that attracted Mascoma to Michigan was the recent $50 million federal grant MSU received to study biofuels in June. MSU will help in areas such as pretreatment technology for cellulosic ethanol production and energy crops that can be utilized by the plant. The State News - July 20, 2007.

    PetroChina, one of China's biggest oil companies, aims to invest RMB 300 million (€28.7/US$39.6m) in biofuel production development plans. A special fund is also going to be jointly set up by PetroChina and the Ministry of Forestry to reduce carbon emissions. Two thirds of the total investment will be channeled into forestry and biofuel projects in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Hebei, the remainder goes to creating a China Green Carbon Foundation, jointly managed by PetroChina and the State Forestry Administration. China Knowledge - July 19, 2007.

    Netherlands-based oil, gas, power and chemical industries service group Bateman Litwin N.V. announces it has signed an agreement to acquire Delta-T Corporation, a leading US-based bioethanol technology provider, with a fast growing engineering, procurement and construction division for a total consideration of US$45 million in cash and 11.8 million new ordinary shares in Bateman Litwin. Bateman Litwin - July 18, 2007.

    TexCom, Inc. announced today that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Biodiesel International Corp. (BIC), and is developing a plan to build an integrated oilseed crushing and biodiesel production facility in Paraguay. The facility, as it is currently contemplated, would process 2,000 metric tons of oil seeds per day, yielding approximately 136,000 metric tons (approximately 39 Million Gallons) of biodiesel and 560,000 metric tons of soy meal pellets per year. Initial feedstock will consist mainly of soybeans that are grown in the immediate area of the proposed production plant in the Provinces of Itapua and Alto Parana. MarketWire - July 18, 2007.

    Spanish power company Elecnor announced that it will build Spain's biggest biodiesel production plant for €70 million (US$96.48 million). The plant, in the port of Gijon in northern Spain, will be ready in 22 months and will produce up to 500,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year from vegetable oil. The plant will be one of the world's biggest. Spain has decided to impose mandatory blending of biofuels with conventional fossil fuels as part of European Union efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Elecnor [*Spanish] - July 18, 2007.

    The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) conducted a feasibility study to determine the most economical solutions to provide biomass energy to the isolated Chugachmiut Tribal Community in the village of Port Graham, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage. The village is only accessible by air or water, making traditional fossil fuel sources expensive to deliver and alternative forms of energy difficult to implement. The case study based on decentralised bioenergy offers interesting parallels to what would be needed to provide energy to the developing world's huge population that lives in similarly isolated conditions. EERC - July 18, 2007.

    According to a basic market report by Global Industries Inc., world biodiesel sales are expected to exceed 4.7 billion gallons (17.8 billion liters) by 2010. Though Europe, with a share estimated at 84.16% in 2006, constitutes the largest market, and will continue to do so for the coming years, major growth is expected to emanate from the United States. The automobile applications market for biodiesel, with an estimated share of 55.73% in 2006 constitutes the largest as well as the fastest growing end use application. Other applications independently analyzed include the Mining Applications market and the Marine Applications market. PRWeb - July 18, 2007.

    O2Diesel Corporation announced that it has received the regulatory approvals necessary to start delivering its proprietary diesel ethanol blended fuel, O2Diesel, in the French market. The approvals pave the way for O2Diesel to move forward into the next stage of its European market development strategy by commencing deliveries to a number of targeted fleets in France. MarketWire - July 17, 2007.

    The BBC World Service is hosting a series of programmes on the global obesity pandemic. Over the coming two weeks a range of documentaries and discussions will be held on the obesity time-bomb that is growing all over the West, but also in the developing world. In North America, a quarter of people are now morbidly obese, 60% is overweight, and one in three children will become obese. The epidemic is spreading rapidly to China and India. BBC World Service - July 16, 2007.

    A new report from Oregon State University shows the biofuels industry is on track to be a $2.5 billion chunk of the state's economy within 20 years. The study identifies 80 potential biodiesel, ethanol and biomass facilities which could produce a combined 400 million gallons (1.5 billion liters) per year of ethanol and another 315 million gallons (1.2 billion liters) of biodiesel. On an oil equivalent basis, this comes down to around 38,000 barrels per day. Oregon State University - July 16, 2007.

    Jatropha biodiesel manufacturer D1 Oils has appointed a leading plant scientist to its board of directors. Professor Christopher Leaver, Sibthorpian professor of plant science and head of the plant sciences department at Oxford University, has joined the Teesside company as a non-executive director. Professor Leaver, who was awarded a CBE in 2000, is a leading expert in the molecular and biochemical basis of plant growth and differentiation. D1Oils Plc - July 16, 2007.

    Panama and South Africa are set to cooperate on biofuels. A delegation consisting of vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Azis Pahad, of Finance, Jubulai Moreketi and of Finance, met with Panama's vice-chancellor Ricardo Durán to discuss joint biodiesel and ethanol production and distribution. Panama's goal is to become a hub for internationally traded bioenergy, making use of the strategic position of the Canal. La Prensa Gráfica [*Spanish] - July 14, 2007.

    Spanish investors are studying the opportunity to invest in agro-industrial projects in Morocco aimed at producing biofuel from the Jatropha plant. Morocco’s Minister for Energy and Mines, Mohammed Boutaleb, said Moroccan authorities are willing to provide the necessary land available to them, provided that the land is not agricultural, is located in semi-arid regions, and that the investors agree to use water-saving agricultural techniques, such as drip-feed irrigation. Magharebia - July 14, 2007.

    Philippine Basic Petroleum Corp. plans to raise as much as 2.8 billion pesos (€44.4/US$61.2 million) through a follow-on offering and loans to finance a 200,000 liter per day bio-ethanol plant in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. The move into biofuels comes in anticipation of the implementation of RA 9367 or the Philippines biofuels law. RA 9367 mandates five percent bioethanol blending into gasoline by 2009, and 10 percent by 2011. Manila Bulletin - July 14, 2007.

    The Michigan Economic Development Corporation last week awarded a $3.4 million grant to redevelop the former Pfizer research facility in Holland into a bioeconomy research and commercialization center. Michigan State University will use the facility to develop technologies that derive alternative energy from agri-based renewable resources. Michigan.org - July 13, 2007.

    Fuel prices increased three times in Mozambique this year due to high import costs. For this reason, the country is looking into biofuels as an alternative. Mozambique's ministries of agriculture and energy presented a study showing that more than five million hectares of land can be used sustainably in the production of crops that would produce biodiesel fuels. The first phase of a biofuel implementation plan was also presented, identifying the provinces of Inhambane, Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado as the first to benefit. News24 (Capetown) - July 12, 2007.

    The Malaysian Oleochemical Manufacturers Group (MOMG) has urged the government for incentives and grants to companies to encourage the development of new uses and applications for glycerine, the most important byproduct of biodiesel. Global production of glycerine is currently about one million tonnes. For every 10 tonnes of oil processed into biodiesel, one tonne of glycerine emerges as a by-product. Bernama - July 12, 2007.

    BioDiesel International AG has acquired 70 per cent of the shares in Lignosol, a Salzburg based company that is making promising progress in Biomass-to-Liquids conversion techniques. The purchase price is in the single-digit million Euro range. ACN - July 10, 2007.

    Gay & Robinson Inc. and Pacific West Energy LLC announced today a partnership to develop an ethanol plant in Hawaii based on sugarcane feedstocks. The plant's capacity is around 12 million gallons (45 million liters) per year. The partnership called Gay & Robinson Ag-Energy LLC, will also ensure the continuation of the Gay & Robinson agricultural enterprise, one of the oldest in Hawaii. Approximately 230 jobs will be preserved, and a large area of West Kauai will be maintained in sustainable agriculture. Business Wire - July 10, 2007.

    Water for Asian Cities (WAC), part of UN-Habitat, is extending partial financial support for the construction of several biogas plants across the Kathmandu valley and develop them as models for municipal waste management. The first biogas plants will be built in Khokna, Godavari, Kalimati, Patan, Tribhuvan University premises, Amrit Science College premises and Thimi. The Himalayan Times - July 09, 2007.

    EnviTec Biogas's planned initial public offering has roused 'enormous' interest among investors and the shares have been oversubscribed, according to sources. EnviTec has set the IPO price range at €42-52 a share, with the subscription period running until Wednesday. EnviTec last year generated sales of €100.7 million, with earnings before interest and tax of €18.5 million. Forbes - July 09, 2007.

Creative Commons License

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Scientists propose new crop sequencing strategies to adapt to variable climate

Around the world, extreme climatic conditions are forcing farmers to rethink current cropping system strategies. To maximize crop production in the face of variable temperatures and precipitation, scientists say farmers may want to adopt a system in which crop sequencing decisions are based upon weather patterns and management goals each year. However, before making the change to a more adaptable cropping systems strategy, researchers say it's important to understand how short-term crop sequencing decisions affect key agronomic and environmental attributes.

From 2002-2005, a team of researchers at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, North Dakota, investigated crop sequencing effects of 10 crops in a region known for its variable climate. The researchers report their findings as a series of six papers in the July-August 2007 issue of Agronomy Journal (overview and presentation).

The motivation for the research are the multiple challenges faced by global agriculture in the future:
Future trends in population growth, energy use, climate change, and globalization will challenge agriculturists to develop innovative production systems that are highly productive and environmentally sound. Furthermore, future agricultural production systems must possess an inherent capacity to adapt to change to be sustainable. Given this context, adoption of dynamic cropping systems is proposed to meet multiple agronomic and environmental objectives through the enhancement of management adaptability to externalities.
Because crop performance is greatly influenced by the sequence in which crops are grown, USDA researchers set out to explore the short-term effects of sequencing a variety of different crops grown throughout the Great Plains.
Dynamic cropping systems are a form of agricultural production that relies on an annual strategy to optimize the outcome of (i) production, (ii) economic, and (iii) resource conservation goals using ecologically-based management principles. Dynamic cropping systems are inherently complex, possessing larger crop portfolios and greater crop diversity and sequencing flexibility as compared with monoculture and fixed-sequence cropping systems. Greater crop diversity and sequencing flexibility within dynamic cropping systems may result in reduced weed and disease infestations, greater nutrient- and precipitation-use efficiency, decreased requirements of exogenous inputs, and lower production risk.
Over a three-year period, the scientists used a unique crop by crop-residue matrix design to evaluate the effects of 100 crop sequences on crop production, plant diseases, soil residue coverage, and soil water depletion. The six symposium papers presented by the USDA researchers highlight interesting findings on the following issues:
  • crops and crop sequences that optimize precipitation-use efficiency for maximum productivity
  • ways to decrease production risks from plant diseases in diverse cropping systems
  • how to maintain an amount of crop residue under no-till to optimize agronomic benefits while minimizing negative effects
  • how to most effectively sequence crops in semiarid environments while maximizing use of available soil water
  • the value of understanding crop sequencing effects for achieving agroecosystem sustainability
While the dynamic cropping system studies centered at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Research Laboratory have helped scientists to better understand the short-term effects of crop sequencing, researchers say there is a lot to learn about how different crop sequences affect the many factors that influence agronomic and environmental outcomes within cropping systems:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Crop sequence effects on diseases
Crop sequence is an important management practice that may lower the risk for leaf spot diseases of spring wheat. Field research was conducted near Mandan, to determine the impact of crop sequences on leaf spot diseases of hard red spring wheat early in the growing season. Spring wheat was evaluated for disease severity following crop sequence combinations of 10 crops: buckwheat, canola, chickpea, corn, dry pea, grain sorghum, lentil, oil seed sunflower, proso millet, and hard red spring wheat.

The frequency of isolation following alternative crops was generally lower compared with spring wheat following wheat. Leaf spot diseases on spring wheat were impacted by crop sequencing. Spring wheat following crop sequences with alternative crops for 1 or 2 yr had lower levels of disease severity compared with a continuous spring wheat treatment early in the growing season. Disease severity was apparently not related to the percentage of crop residue coverage on the soil surface associated with various crop sequence combinations. New alternative crops preceding spring wheat reduce levels of leaf spot diseases.

Crop residue coverage of soils in no-till systems
Field research was conducted to determine the influence of crop and crop sequencing on crop residue coverage of soil with 10 crops: buckwheat, canola, chickpea, corn, dry pea, grain sorghum, lentil, oil seed sunflower, proso millet, and hard red spring wheat. Crop residue coverage of the soil surface was measured with a transect technique at the time of seeding spring wheat.

Crop residue coverage varied and was more clearly associated with the second-year crop than with the first-year crop of a 2-yr crop sequence. Crop sequences composed of spring wheat, proso millet, and grain sorghum had higher crop residue coverage compared with sequences composed of the other crops. When these three crops and three crops that provide lower crop residue coverage of soil the subsequent year (lentil, chickpea, and sunflower) were analyzed as a subset to compare various sequences of crops providing a range of residue coverage, for example, lower (first yr)/lower (second yr), the surface residue coverage ranged from 65% for the lower/lower combination to 93% for the higher/higher combination in 2004 and from 56 to 94% in 2005, respectively.

A producer operating on more fragile soil and concerned about reducing soil erosion hazards would be advised to grow crops that provide higher residue coverage in the year before crops that provide lower residue coverage.

Soil water depletion and recharge under dynamic cropping systems

Dynamic cropping systems principles require that farmers consider climatic, market, and ecological factors on an annual basis in making crop choices. Objectives of this research were to determine variability of seasonal soil water depletion (SWD) and spring soil water recharge (SWR) among crops and to apply results to dynamic cropping systems practice.

A 10-species crop sequence project was conducted under no-tillage on silt loam Haplustoll soils in North Dakota. Mid-May to mid-September SWD and following April SWR were determined from 2002 to 2005 by neutron moisture meter to the 1.8-m depth.

Crops studied and average SWD amounts (centimeters) were: sunflower, 13.5; corn, 12.6; sorghum, 11.0; spring wheat, 10.6; canola, 10.0; millet, 9.6; buckwheat, 9.4; chickpea , 8.5; lentil, 8.1; and dry pea, 5.0, with highest and lowest being 29 and 11% of average May soil water, 46 cm.

Because the period of the experiment was relatively dry, recharge was less than depletion. Spring soil water was 10 cm greater following pea than following sunflower. Ranking of crops for water storage roughly followed reverse SWD rank, with several exceptions, notably wheat, which had greater water from snow capture. Lower soil water following crops such as sunflower and corn was linked to negative crop sequential effects in this project.

Choosing to seed a lower water-using crop in the spring after the occurrence of below-average SWR on land that had a higher water-using crop the previous season illustrates an application of information reported along with the principles of dynamic cropping systems.

Crop sequences and sustainability
Producers need to know how to sequence crops to develop sustainable dynamic cropping systems that take advantage of inherent internal resources, such as crop synergism, nutrient cycling, and soil water, and capitalize on external resources, such as weather, markets, and government programs.

The objective of this research was to determine influences of previous crop and crop residues (crop sequence) on relative seed and residue yield and precipitation-use efficiency (PUE) for the no-till production of buckwheat, canola, chickpea, corn, dry pea, grain sorghum, lentil, proso millet, sunflower, and spring wheat grown in the northern Great Plains.

Relative seed yield in 2003 for eight of the 10 crops resulted in synergistic effects when the previous crop was dry pea or lentil, compared with each crop grown on its own residue. Buckwheat, corn, and sunflower residues were antagonistic to chickpea relative seed yield. In 2004, highest relative seed yield for eight of the 10 crops occurred when dry pea was the previous crop. Relative residue yield followed a pattern similar to relative seed yield.

The PUE overall means fluctuated for seven of the 10 crops both years, but those of dry pea, sunflower, and spring wheat remained somewhat constant, suggesting these crops may have mechanisms for consistent PUE and were not as dependent on growing season precipitation distribution as the other seven crops.

Sustainable cropping systems in the northern Great Plains will approach an optimal scheme of crop sequencing by taking advantage of synergisms and avoiding antagonisms that occur among crops and previous crop residues.

These short-term research efforts can help identify crop sequence 'synergisms' and 'antagonisms' thereby providing the necessary foundation for developing strategies to sequence crops over a longer period of time, the researchers write.

The research team at the USDA-ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory is now actively working to translate their research findings for use by agriculturists through an update of the Crop Sequence Calculator, an interactive computer program designed to assess crop sequencing options for optimizing economic, agronomic, and environmental goals within dryland cropping systems.

Photo: satellite image of circular crop fields and crop rotations in Haskell County, Kansas in late June 2001. Healthy, growing crops are green. Corn would be growing into leafy stalks by then. Sorghum, which resembles corn, grows more slowly and would smaller at that time and therefore, paler. Wheat is a brilliant gold as harvest occurs in June. Fields of brown have been recently harvested and plowed under or lie fallow for the year.

J. D. Hansona, M. A. Liebiga, S. D. Merrilla, D. L. Tanakaa, J. M. Krupinskya and D. E. Stott, "Dynamic Cropping Systems. Increasing Adaptability Amid an Uncertain Future", Agron J, 99:939-943 (2007); DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0133

Joseph M. Krupinskya, Steven D. Merrilla, Donald L. Tanakaa, Mark A. Liebiga, Michael T. Laresb and Jonathan D. Hansona, "Crop Residue Coverage of Soil Influenced by Crop Sequence in a No-Till System", Agron J, 99:921-930 (2007); DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0129

M. A. Liebig, D. L. Tanaka, J. M. Krupinsky, S. D. Merrill and J. D. Hanson, "Dynamic Cropping Systems. Contributions to Improve Agroecosystem Sustainability", Agron J, 99:899-903 (2007); DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0131

Joseph M. Krupinskya, Donald L. Tanakaa, Steven D. Merrilla, Mark A. Liebiga, Michael T. Laresb and Jonathan D. Hanson, "Crop Sequence Effects on Leaf Spot Diseases of No-Till Spring Wheat", Agron J, 99:912-920 (2007); DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0130

Stephen D. Merrill, Donald L. Tanaka, Joseph M. Krupinsky, Mark A. Liebig and Jonathan D. Hanson, "Soil Water Depletion and Recharge under Ten Crop Species and Applications to the Principles of Dynamic Cropping Systems", Agron J, 99:931-938 (2007); DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0134

D. L. Tanaka, J. M. Krupinsky, S. D. Merrill, M. A. Liebig and J. D. Hanson, "Dynamic Cropping Systems for Sustainable Crop Production in the Northern Great Plains", Agron J, 99:904-911 (2007); DOI: 10.2134/agronj2006.0132

Eurekalert: Wild weather forces farmers to adapt - July 28, 2007.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home