The project’s webinars are presented annually, highlighting the team’s work and research. The first years of the webinar focused on raising public awareness about the project, said Mark Hanna, an agricultural engineer with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. However, “this year, we are turning it more to directly impact the farmer or grower,” he said.
The webinar will present case studies on ventilation management and tractors on the farm, as well as specific costs of energy for farmers and ways to keep their energy expenses low. Free online registration is open to the public through Sunday, June 23 at www.aep.iastate.edu/energy.
The Farm Energy project is a collaboration between ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Energy Center. Hanna manages the project along with ISU professor Jay Harmon and program coordinator Dana Petersen. The project is in its fifth year of communicating ways to embrace energy efficiency and tips for Iowa farmers.
“The Iowa State University Farm Energy project was born partially because of the increases in energy prices,” said Petersen. “Fluctuating costs make it all the more important for businesses to examine, measure and make changes in the way they use energy on the farm.”
Hanna explained that the state of Iowa typically spends around $1 billion on energy in the agriculture business. “State wide, if we were even able to cut back by 1 percent, we are talking a lot of money saved for farmers,” he said.
The project began by focusing on informing farmers about ways to cut down on energy costs. “We tried to identify things that would be the easiest for farmers to apply energy management to, as well as giving them safe, significant energy options,” said Hanna. “Now, we are actually putting these things into practice on the farm.” The Farm Energy project is working with Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms, compiling research data in various areas of farm energy management, such as ways to reduce fuel consumption. “About 40 percent of the dollar cost for energy is caused by the use of diesel and gas fuel,” said Hanna. Cutting down on fuel will cut down on energy costs. “We are also trying to get folks thinking about upgrading to energy efficient machinery that can reduce energy costs in the long run,” said Petersen.
In addition to the webinars, the Farm Energy project offers fact sheets that cover a wide array of topics, including livestock, fuel efficiency and soil conservation. The project annually collaborates with the Crop Advantage Series, educational meetings offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The Crop Advantage Series brings to light the latest information on crop production; the Farm Energy project adds information on energy efficiency to the mix.
Programs such as the Farm Energy project help give Iowans the knowledge to save money and manage their farms with energy efficiency. As Hanna explained, “We are trying to give people ideas on ways they can save energy dollars.”
Photo caption: Mark Hanna helps manage the ISU Farm Energy project.