ARS labs in the
Southern Plains are increasing their use of alternative fuels such as
biodiesel, which helps power these farm vehicles at the ARS research center in
Beltsville, Maryland. Click the image for more information about
ARS Labs in Texas "Going Green"
By Don Comis
November 24, 2004
The greening of the Agricultural
Research Service leapfrogged this year from the Beltsville, Md., area to
the agency's Southern Plains Area (SPA), which includes Arkansas, New Mexico,
Oklahoma and Texas.
and Production Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, was the first winner of a new
annual award called the Southern Plains Area Greening Award. This award
recognizes ARS Southern Plains locations that have demonstrated progress in
making environmentally friendly choices.
The Bushland lab has been using biodiesel since 2000 to power
stationary engines used to generate electricity as part of a wind/hybrid power
project. It will soon test emissions from various biodiesel fuels in these
engines, in coordination with scientists at the ARS
Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa.
The new award is part of the SPA's implementation of the requirement
by Title IX of the 2002 Farm Bill that all federal procurement offices give
preference to USDA-designated biobased items
as substitutes for petroleum or other less environmentally friendly
ingredients. Biobased products are usually made, at least in significant part,
from U.S. crops and animal products.
Onstad, the ARS Southern Plains Area Director at College Station, Texas,
promoted the "Biobased Initiative" to his area, which includes 19 research
locations. The strategy for implementing the initiative and the award is the
idea of Mike
Downing, the SPA Procurement and Realty Officer.
Downing participated in last year's Biobased Procurement Workshop at
USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Representatives of the Henry A. Wallace
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC)
spoke at the workshop. BARC has been a leader in the use of biobased products,
from heating fuel to cleaning supplies. The center is operated by ARS, USDA's
primary scientific research agency.
Now the Southern Plains Area promises to become a similar model for
its part of the country.
Another of its locations, the
Research Laboratory in El Reno, Okla., is using biobased products such as
hydraulic tractor fluid, two-cycle engine oil, chain oil, grease, penetrating
lubricant and diesel fuel conditioners.