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Iowa State University Extension


Work group to help farmers improve energy conservation, efficiency

tractor in field

With rising energy and fuel costs, Iowa’s agricultural producers are looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption and improve the farm’s bottom line. But to adopt energy conservation and efficiency measures, they need to know and understand their farms’ energy consumption patterns. How will this knowledge influence their operating costs and enhance the financial viability of their farms? The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is leading a project to answer that question, working with ISU Extension and EnSave, a consulting firm specializing in innovative energy efficiency and resource conservation solutions.

Five representative Iowa farms (beef, pork, dairy, poultry and crop) are undergoing comprehensive energy audits focusing on all energy uses on the farm — electricity, natural gas, propane, diesel fuel and gasoline. The audits also will analyze energy input issues relating to production practices such as fertilizer, said Paul Brown, assistant director of ISU Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources.

In phase 2, ISU Extension and EnSave will compile existing information and new data from the audits to prepare a comprehensive analysis for educational and outreach opportunities, including a focus group of the five farms, a case study on each and recommended next steps.

IFBF will convene a statewide group of involved and interested participants in phase 3. They’ll analyze appropriate actions for enhancing energy efficiency and conservation efforts, including coordinated information on the Web, support and assistance programs, funding, and policy and advocacy issues.

Brown said in phase 4 IFBF and ISU Extension will begin a statewide educational initiative to increase farmers’ awareness of direct and indirect opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy resources, to explore alternatives to reduce farm energy demand and to improve their farms’ overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment. In addition, Brown said, it is anticipated that farmers will be able to participate in comprehensive farm energy audits.

For more information contact Brown, pwbrown@iastate.edu.

This article appeared in March 2008 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter