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Posts tagged: Energy

U.S. Forest Service Recognized for Energy Conservation Efforts

The Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first net zero energy facility in the nation. (RecSolar Inc.)

The Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first net zero energy facility in the nation. (RecSolar Inc.)

The Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center recently received the White House’s 2013 GreenGov Presidential Award and the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Federal Energy and Water Management Award for its net zero energy facility project in San Dimas, Calif. A facility earns a net zero energy designation if it produces more renewable energy than it uses per year. This is the first facility of its kind in the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Energy also recognized the Center for the same facility project and the Forest Service’s Northern Region for executing a $2.6 million Energy Savings Performance Contract in Fiscal Year 2012. Read more »

USDA Updates Multi-year Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan

Many of the USDA programs touch almost every American, every day.  And as concerns grow about climate change, greenhouse gases and depleting natural resources, USDA continues creating opportunities for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, public land managers and families in rural communities. These opportunities help these stakeholders generate prosperity in innovative, sustainable ways while conserving the Nation’s natural resources and preventing pollution.

USDA is committed to leading by example through fostering a clean energy economy, improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner and complying with environmental laws and regulations. To accomplish this, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and utilizes this knowledge to create and maintain conditions under which people and nature can exist in productive harmony. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: A New Report that Highlights the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

There are a wide range of important reasons why rural America needs passage of a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. One of the most pressing is to grow the rural economy in a way that creates new jobs and reverses the troubling decline in population that we’ve seen recently in America’s small towns.

This week, USDA’s Economic Research Service released its annual report on the economic condition of rural America – the 2013 Rural America at a Glance report.   The data in this report underscores the challenges of stagnant job growth and persistent poverty faced by many communities across rural America. Read more »

Agricultural Coexistence: Fostering Collaboration and Communication

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a notice in the Federal Register asking the public to comment on how agricultural coexistence in the United States can be strengthened.  Comments are due by January 3, 2014.

U.S. farmers in the 21st Century engage in many forms of agriculture, including conventional, organic, identity-preserved, and genetically engineered (GE) crop production.  USDA is unequivocal in its supports for all these forms of agriculture.  We need all of them to meet our country’s collective needs for food security, energy production, carbon offsets and the economic sustainability of rural communities.  Our goal is to promote the coexistence of all these approaches through cooperation and science-based stewardship practices. Read more »

Arkansas Poultry Farmer Cuts Costs & Reduces Carbon Footprint

Stanley Lee has put more efficient light bulbs in his chicken houses and made other updates that lower his carbon footprint.

Stanley Lee has put more efficient light bulbs in his chicken houses and made other updates that lower his carbon footprint.

It can take a lot of energy to raise chickens as farmers have to control the temperature and lighting in houses, meaning high costs and high energy use.

But with help from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, poultry producers can cut their costs while conserving energy.

One Benton County, Ark. producer is cutting his gas and electric bills while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Stanley Lee did this by installing radiant heaters, light-emitting diode light bulbs, or LEDs, and attic insulation in his six chicken houses that shelter 890,000 chickens each year. Read more »

LED Lighting Improves Sustainability for Specialty-Crop Producers

Banks of light-emitting diodes (LED) illuminate plants in greenhouses.  Purdue University researchers discovered that LEDs can provide a more beneficial light spectrum to greenhouse plants than conventional lighting while using 75 percent less electricity. Courtesy of Celina Gomez.

Banks of light-emitting diodes (LED) illuminate plants in greenhouses. Purdue University researchers discovered that LEDs can provide a more beneficial light spectrum to greenhouse plants than conventional lighting while using 75 percent less electricity. Courtesy of Celina Gomez.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

For about 2,000 years – since Roman emperor Tiberius demanded fresh cucumbers for lunch year ‘round – farmers have been looking for better ways to extend the growing season.  Now, a team of researchers led by Purdue University has found a way to grow more produce and save money doing it.

Greenhouses and other structures protect crops from harsh environmental conditions.  Over the last 50 years or so, some growers have added artificial lighting to compensate for shorter winter days or when conditions are cloudy.  However, the problem with most lighting systems is that they are relatively costly to install and do not provide the light spectrum that is most efficient for photosynthesis in plants. Read more »