Agricultural Innovations Deliver Economic and Environmental Wins

Economic Value and Sustainability of Washington’s Agriculture Sector Through Industrial Symbiosis

OLYMPIA, Wash., Jul 19, 2023 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- A new study commissioned by the Washington legislature, "Increasing the Economic Value and Sustainability of Washington's Agriculture Sector Through Industrial Symbiosis," identifies new opportunities for cost savings and additional revenue streams for farmers and food processors across the state of Washington, the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI) announced today.

Agriculture Symbiosis weaves industries together to capture economic value from waste while cutting waste and costs and reducing climate impacts. The study demonstrates how by working together in new ways, and adopting new technology, a producer's waste can be transformed into a usable input into another organization's production, which benefits both business and the environment.

A partnership of the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory assessed opportunities and obstacles for applying industrial symbiosis in Washington state's agricultural sector. The resulting study, delivered June 30, 2023, incorporates case studies, interviews with experts, and a technology and policy overview. Based on these analyses, the report provides recommendations for supporting expansion of agriculture symbiosis to improve agriculture's economic and environmental outcomes.

"Agricultural innovators in Washington state are already harvesting the benefits of industrial symbiosis practices," says Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Executive Director, Rhys Roth. "This study highlights opportunities for unlocking available benefits to producers, communities and the environment and the importance of the infrastructure upon which these mutual benefits rely."

Agriculture and food manufacturing operations support 164,000 jobs in Washington. The industry generates more than $20.4 billion in revenue annually. Helping the industry thrive, the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources added their expertise to the study.

According to Chad Kruger, director of the center. "We see agricultural symbiosis as a promising model, and we're excited to support expansion of this innovative approach to strengthen long term sustainability and agricultural profitability."

Agricultural symbiosis shows how investments in sustainable practices lead to profitability, helping to ensure the long-term health of the industry and the communities that rely upon it. One such example cited in the study is Royal Dairy, which uses a bed of earthworms and ground-up retired (and otherwise burned) fruit trees to clean and reuse dairy wastewater.

According to owner Austin Allred, "At Royal Dairy, we literally use a symbiotic relationship found in nature using large scale worm bins to cut costs and improve operations. The soils and the ruminants and their byproducts, and the cover crops are all working together. We never really called what we do agriculture symbiosis, we just consider it smart business that will keep us in the dairy business for the long term."

Agriculture symbiosis offers an array of clean energy advantages. At their new Richland plant, Lamb Weston plans to process potato waste to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) as a new revenue stream, building on internal practices like water reuse, heat capture and RNG production at other facilities.

With benefits to be gained across the state for producers of all sizes, the study identified important ways the legislature can support expansion of the practice:

1. Coordinate and invest in agriculture symbiosis programs in concert with programs supporting clean industry

2. Support market accelerator research targeting key opportunities for agriculture symbiosis

3. Help key state programs and industry to strategically align services to support agriculture symbiosis innovators

4. Forge collaboration agreements with countries and states who are symbiosis innovation leaders

Given the significant economic benefits indicated for agriculture, the study concludes that forestry warrants evaluation as a next application for this innovative, yet common sense approach to supporting industry, working lands and the environment in Washington.

To download a copy of the report, visit:

About the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure:

The Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI) supports and accelerates sustainable infrastructure innovation and development in the Pacific Northwest. CSI is the trusted Pacific Northwest-based non-profit with a mission to catalyze state-of-the-art sustainable infrastructure solutions that help communities of every kind thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. The study was done in partnership with Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Learn more:

News Source: Center for Sustainable Infrastructure

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