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Energy Costs
OSU energy audits may uncover savings

A $370 Oregon State University Energy Efficiency Center audit of your ag operation’s power use could save about 10% of your monthly energy costs.

Windbreaks reduce energy costs

If you found it tough to ward off the blowing snow and bitter winds Missouri was dealt this past winter, think windbreaks.

Down-home biodiesel

Missouri is a long way from the Middle East, but the Oelrichs family farm near Mora has struck oil. Soybean oil, that is. Feeling the squeeze of $4-per-gallon diesel a couple of years ago, they decided to put the squeeze on some of their homegrown soybeans and use the oil to make their own biodiesel.

Buy a ‘greener’ pickup truck?

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently released its list of “Greenest 2010 Vehicles.” Small car and SUV hybrids topped the energy miser list with green scores reflecting high fuel economies and low emissions.

Make more, save more

Growing any crop well is a complicated affair, but the bottom-line concepts are simple. Farmers have to produce good quality and high yield and do it as inexpensively as possible. To no one is this more important than flue-cured tobacco growers, who are always under pressure to make more and/or save more in their production.

Energy adjuster

Turn agriculture waste into cash? This is science fiction, right? Wrong. While many have tried and failed, research at the University of California, Davis, has found new and better ways to convert organic waste into energy.

Waste conversion

The anaerobic phased solids, or APS, digester at the University of California, Davis, developed by Ruihong Zhang and colleagues, will use all the organic waste that the campus generates, which will include crop residue, livestock waste, green waste and food waste, says Dave Konwinski, CEO of Onsite Power Systems.

Solar powers fraction of Beck Ag Center

No tour of Purdue University’s Agronomic Research Center is complete without seeing the shiny glass panels located west of the Beck Ag Center. What is that rectangular contraption doing there, anyway?

Ask about energy efficiency

The Iowa State Fair and the Farm Progress Show are both must-see summer events. There’s always good food, good conversation and a good chance your favorite equipment dealers will be looking for an excuse to talk shop. Take a minute to sit back and ask them, “How can I save more energy?”

OBMB is cotton’s future

In September, when Danny Clayton came to the Respess Farm in Pantego, N.C., to speak at the North Carolina Cotton Field Day about pickers that feature onboard module builders, one farmer came up, pointed to some round modules in a field across the way and asked him, “What is that in the field, out there?” No doubt the farmer was joking, but the round modules of a John Deere 7760 and the mini-modules of a Case ME 625 setup are still not often seen in the field.

Energy-savers to harness

You already may have straw bales stacked around the house foundation and plastic tacked over windows in anticipation of winter. But the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority suggests other measures that can help keep cold weather from blowing through your winter utility budget.

Save fuel when removing snow

Forgive the pun, but the snow accumulation this winter simply pales in comparison to last year. However, current fuel prices are noticeably higher, and further increases are expected. You never know exactly how long the snow will last here in the Midwest, so ISU Farm Energy offers a few easy steps for saving energy during the remaining winter.

Shift up, throttle down, save fuel

New technology should probably come with a warning label for the headaches and rising blood pressure that follow the learning curve. Take heart that the new “infinitely” and “continuously” variable transmissions in late-model tractors are an exception to this rule. If you’re using one this spring, you’ll also reap the benefits of improved fuel efficiency. If you’re operating an older tractor, shift up and throttle back to reduce fuel consumption for lighter drawbar

Oregon farmers to turn sorghum into electricity

If a new 10-megawatt biomass power plant opens in Heppner, Ore., as planned by late summer, growers in the region will find a new market for their sorghum.

Funding available to save money on energy

Building in energy programs for irrigation, nutrient management, pesticide efficiencies, tillage and more, growers can not only hedge their bets for greater income, but are able to launch viable programs with government funding.

Sunnyside Farms looks to the sun

"Old Sol” now works at Sunnyside Farms near Westminster, Md. And he’s paying his way at this 10 million-dozen-egg poultry operation.

Firing up willows!

Today, close to 1,000 acres of fast-growing willow are in commercial production in New York, mostly for biomass energy. But the potential is there for many more — a renewable energy industry.

Changes coming in farm lighting

As the days grow longer in summer, lighting is less critical for day-to- day chores around the farmstead. Day or night, safety is arguably the most important benefit of good farm lighting, but cost and efficiency should also be taken into consideration.

Save energy with efficient fans

Whether you’re drawing up plans to build a new hog barn or working hard to keep the livestock cool in your existing swine facilities, management and maintenance of ventilation fans can improve energy efficiency.

Save heat, energy in farm shop

Bonus depreciation for tax purposes has spawned a variety of construction projects this past year, including many new farm shops. This income-tax provision can substantially reduce the initial cost of a farm shop. Energy-efficient features can also help you reduce farm energy costs long after the glow of bonus depreciation has faded.

Finding energy payback period

As you prepare to close the books on 2011, it’s never too soon to start planning for next year. When you look around the farmstead, how many “projects” can you see?

Winter energy savings for engines

This winter, ISU Farm Energy is on the road (and on the Web) with information for producers who want to improve their farm’s energy efficiency. “One misconception about on-farm energy efficiency is that cost savings are not as important when profits are already good,” says Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension ag engineer. “On the contrary, With energy prices creeping upward, now is a perfect time to fuel up on facts before prices rise dramatically.

Let the sun water the cattle

A lifetime of ranching in an area populated with irrigation wells
has given Stirling Spencer an intricate knowledge of the beef industry and the pumps that water his cow herds in the dry New Mexico desert.

Tractor technology can save fuel

One perk of ag technology is all the bells and whistles, but they aren’t just for show. Guidance systems and other precision ag tools can help you minimize fuel consumption by reducing overlap. Likewise, late-model tractors with infinitely or continuously variable transmissions can be more fuel-efficient than fixed-gear transmissions when coupecially during spring field operations, which results in less fuel consumption, fewer passes across the field and fewer opera

Fan maintenance saves energy

Many farmers are eager to move forward with construction projects this spring, especially since our April weather seemed more like a typical March! If your building plans include a new hog barn or just some spring cleaning in and around your existing facilities, you can improve the energy efficiency of your ventilation system with proper fan selection and maintenance.

E15 ethanol blend gets green light

It was a happy day for corn growers and the ethanol industry June 15 as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted final approval for a higher blend of ethanol to be sold at gas stations across the country. But that doesn’t mean the 15% ethanol blended fuel will be available anytime soon. Sizable hurdles remain for E15.

Iowa ready to sell E15 ethanol

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association recently held a press conference at the Linn Co-op Oil Co. gas station at Marion in eastern Iowa to highlight the need for “fueling freedom.” Linn Co-op is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer the E15 ethanol blend, but petroleum refiners servicing Iowa refuse to provide the type of gasoline blendstock required to mix with ethanol to make a 15% blend.

Energy assessments work

Summertime always seems like a whirlwind of activities, one after another. Then August comes along and nearly bowls you over: field days, county fairs, Iowa State Fair, Farm Progress Show. Whew!

Five practices to reduce energy use

For decades, Iowa farmers have worked with USDA to protect the natural resources on their farms. The state’s best conservationists are no-till farming to reduce soil erosion, reducing and better timing their nutrient applications to improve water quality, and rotationally grazing livestock for better grass and animal performance. Now, USDA is encouraging producers to consider conservation practices that help reduce the amount of energy they use on their farms.

What DDGS means to ethanol equation

Most people talk about the number of bushels of corn going to ethanol plants. Few note that a portion of that ends up as byproducts, primarily livestock feed. Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Extension ag economist, says that distinction makes a difference when you’re embroiled in the food vs. fuel debate surrounding ethanol production.

Rolling your way to fuel savings

If the recent fluctuations in fuel prices are bringing back memories of 2008, take time this year to get a jump on fuel savings. As you prepare your tractors and field equipment for spring, consider weight distribution, wheel slip and ballasting to improve overall fuel efficiency.

Improving energy efficiency

In a remote part of Bill Wineland’s farm is a pasture that cows never graze. It is not because of lack of forage, but rather a lack of water.

Manure to pay via credits

Contractors broke ground in November at Kreider Farms’ dairy facility at Manheim, Pa., to install an innovative $7.75-million nutrient management system to be paid for by nutrient, or manure, credits. The equipment and technology is owned by Colorado-based Bion Environmental Technologies. Nutrient credits saved with the biological processing plant will be sold under Pennsylvania’s new nutrient-credit trading program.

Shop talk

Todd Intermill’s shop isn’t the biggest or fanciest you’ll ever see. But it might be one of the most comfortable and functional.

Shop smarts

Todd Intermill heats, cools and dehumidifies his 36-by-56-foot shop for $650 per year with an air-source heat pump and an electric furnace. The air-source heat pump moves heat from outside to inside the shop, and vice versa, to maintain the desired temperature. The electric furnace works as a backup in the winter. Its blower distributes the heat pump’s air throughout the shop.

Dual-fuel irrigation

Considering yearly fluctuations in energy prices, flexibility in fuel sources is a good thing for irrigators. Nebraska-based AmeriFuels Energy Solutions, one of the pioneers in marketing irrigation engines that run on ethanol, now has another option for irrigators — an engine that burns both ethanol and natural gas.

Tank up on fuel in off-peak periods

Rumors abound that America is headed for $5 gasoline. But aside for a few California pumps priced above a “Lincoln,” Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service, contends a $5 U.S. average is still a few years down the road.

Reaching for more green

Dakota farmers are as green as they come. They recycle and reuse. They protect the land and water. They’re the original conservationists, the true environmentalists. But it’s been a tough couple of years for producers trying to take being green to the next level on their farms and ranches.

Cut down on tillage

Even more than usual, grain prices are a hot topic of conversation this fall. Under the circumstances, it’s easy to forget that fuel prices are also the highest we’ve seen since 2008, including more than 100 million gallons of off-road diesel fueling Iowa’s tractors and combines.

Life in ethanol era

Remember those once-upon-a-time days when corn sold for 20 cents either side of $2 per bushel year after year? If you want to go way back, before the Earl Butz “fencerow-to-fencerow” farming days, all the way back to the 1960s, corn sold for 20 cents either side of about $1.10 per bushel, year after year.

Indiana’s ethanol boom not a bust

Prior to 2007, Indiana was lagging behind some other Corn Belt states in joining the ethanol party, with only one plant, South Bend’s New Energy, which was built in 1984. Although plans for as many as 41 plants were announced, when the talking was done, 12 new plants were actually built.

Store fuel in dike, under roof

Cost savings are possible for fuel if you’re flexible on when you buy, and how much you can buy at once. That was just one of the factors that convinced Bryan Kirkpatrick, Greentown, that an on-farm dike and storage center made sense.

UNL ‘lab’ seeks water answers

Water management is vital to farming the arid regions of western Nebraska. University of Nebraska researchers hope that the addition of a 1,280-acre West Central Water Resources Field Lab near Brule will help them find answers to the questions farmers and ranchers need to know.

Incentives pay for pump improvement

A Nebraska Public Power District test of 261 irrigation systems provided further evidence of the need to improve irrigation pumping plant efficiencies, and also of the opportunities you have to save both money and water by making improvements.

Grady pairs farm, industry

Sometimes opportunity presents itself, and you have to take a chance at it. That was the situation for Mack Grady, owner of Cureco Inc., a distributor of computerized tobacco curing controls in the United States.