Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: Energy

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 »

Secretary’s Column: Energy Efficiency and the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than 630 new projects across the country under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  These new projects will help producers and businesses boost their bottom line, while increasing America’s energy security and protecting our environment.

Energy efficiency programs are a key part of the President’s overall plan to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, while building our renewable energy capacity to support an all-of-the-above approach to America’s energy future.

Under the Obama Administration, USDA has used this program to support more than 7,000 energy efficiency projects. Many of these provided assistance on small and medium-sized farm and ranches, or in rural businesses. Read more »

Renewable Energy on Farms Study Released – First to Look at Role of State-Level Policies

USDA has published a study examining states’ adoption rates of distributed generation for solar and wind energy on U.S. farms. The results show that states with higher energy prices, more organic acres per farm, and more Internet connectivity adopt renewable electricity at higher rates.  For solar systems, full-farm ownership and solar resources were also significant factors.  Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) targets were found to increase state level renewable electricity adoption at the distributed-generation scale while electric cooperative prevalence in the state was found to have a negative relationship to renewable electricity adoption share. Read more »

Packed House in Tucson, Arizona for Energy Round Table Listening Session with Rural Utilities Administrator

Sorry Mr. Wolfe. As it turns out, you actually CAN go home again…and John Padalino recently did.

Padalino is the Administrator for the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a branch of USDA Rural Development. Born in south Tucson, Padalino grew up along the border where his father was a customs agent. Recently he was back in Tucson to facilitate a Rural Development Energy Round Table.

The round table was filled to capacity with participants that represented small businesses, solar companies, utilities, community action groups, tribes, contractors, and local governments. Read more »

Reducing Food Waste: It’s More Than Just Cleaning Your Plate

When you think of steps that can be taken to improve our environment and mitigate climate change, “reducing food waste” probably doesn’t come to mind right away.  But in fact, food waste is an important factor in climate change, because wasted food represents 20 percent by weight of the solid waste going to landfills. This decomposing food quickly generates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 percent more potent than carbon dioxide.

Wasted food also represents a drain on natural resources–after all, land and water are needed to produce that food.  That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on producer groups and others to join in efforts to reduce food loss and waste, recover wholesome food for human consumption, and recycle discarded food to feed animals, produce compost or even generate energy. Read more »

USDA Town Meetings Draw Comments on Proposal to Help Utilities Finance Renewable Energy Projects

During a town hall meeting at USDA Headquarters, Administrator John Padalino explains a new proposed rule that opens the door to financing both smaller and renewable energy projects by USDA.  The rule could help utilities reduce costs to customers.  Comments are being accepted through July 30th. USDA Photo by Steve Thompson.

During a town hall meeting at USDA Headquarters, Administrator John Padalino explains a new proposed rule that opens the door to financing both smaller and renewable energy projects by USDA. The rule could help utilities reduce costs to customers. Comments are being accepted through July 30th. USDA Photo by Steve Thompson.

Earlier this month, Town Hall meetings at USDA headquarters attracted good commentary on a proposed rule that can serve as a way to transition to energy generation of the future. The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) held the meetings to hear from rural electric program borrowers, potential borrowers, and financial institutions on proposing rules that clarify how RUS finances renewable energy projects for both rural and nonrural consumers.

This proposed rule has several benefits. First, it will allow USDA to finance projects that current regulations restrict. It will also open the door to financing both smaller and renewable projects. It can have a positive impact on rural communities by strengthening investment in new markets, which will bolster economic development and create jobs. This proposed rule can provide a path for rural utilities to expand their energy portfolios, and transition from our reliance on fossil fuels. Read more »