Farm Energy Success Stories
An Agriculture Energy Management Plan:
Bridger Plant Materials Center Headquarters
David Ryan, an NCAT employee and registered Professional Engineer in Montana, provided a farm energy audit at the Bridger Plant Materials Center (PMC)property in Bridger, MT on February 15, 2012. This audit was an ASABE Level 2 audit. Ryan identified potential energy saving opportunities in the farm headquarters. If all recommended measures are implemented, the estimated total cost would be $21,376. Total estimated savings would be $3,612 annually, and the payback period would be 6 years.
The 140-acre Bridger PMC property is owned by Conservation Districts in Montana and Wyoming. It is staffed and operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and provides plant solutions for the diverse ecosystems of Montana and Wyoming. Over 30 conservation grasses, forbs, and shrubs have been selected and released for use throughout the northern plains since the PMCs establishment in 1959.
Read the full report here. [PDF/426KB]
Building Farm Energy Self-Sufficiency
From 2006 to 2009, NCAT conducted wide-ranging research on agricultural energy usage and measures that can help farms become more energy self-sufficient and resilient. NCAT staff interviewed hundreds of farmers, as well as representatives from utilities, farm organizations, and energy-related agencies. NCAT also evaluated dozens of energy-saving tools, including over 70 Internet-based energy calculators. Finally, NCAT created a variety of tools and educational resources, including a new Directory of Energy Alternatives. NCAT also created a new guide to efficient microirrigation, a report on improving the availability and usefulness of farm energy audits, and a report on farm energy calculators. Funding was provided by the USDA Risk Management Agency.
Efficiency Plus Irrigation Program
NCAT designs and administers technical assistance and financial incentive programs that meet the needs of utilities, agencies, and other clients. One area of expertise is irrigation. NCAT has been actively promoting irrigation efficiency since the late 1980s.
From 2002 to 2004, the Efficiency Plus (E+) Irrigation Pilot Program provided a comprehensive irrigation efficiency program for NorthWestern Energy's 2,000 irrigation customers in Montana. NCAT designed and ran the program, providing educational workshops, targeted advertising, energy analysis, technical assistance, and rebates. NCAT energy specialists also worked with irrigators to evaluate their irrigation systems, identify cost-effective improvements, and offer appropriate and fair cash incentives. NCAT conducted irrigation audits: measuring flow rates, pressure, and electrical consumption, calculating each system's pumping plant efficiency, and making recommendations for cost-effective energy saving projects. The project improved 88 irrigation systems over a three year period, delivering average energy savings of 40 percent.
Montana Rivers Project
From 1997 to 2004, NCAT studied the causes of stream dewatering and tested innovative solutions. NCAT installed soil moisture monitors at over 60 farms and ranches along the Jefferson, Boulder, Big Hole, Blackfoot, Beaverhead, Clark Fork, Ruby, Shields, and Yellowstone Rivers. NCAT also sponsored numerous educational events and was instrumental in creating the Jefferson River Watershed Council. The project developed a model of positive and respectful engagement that can be applied in other regions of the Intermountain West where agricultural water use is an issue.
Project funders included the Fanwood Foundation; Ferguson Foundation; General Service Foundation; Greenville Foundation; Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks; Montana Power Company; Montana Trout Foundation; National Fish & Wildlife Foundation; Norcross Wildlife Foundation; Trout Unlimited; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Oil Seeds for Farm Energy: Pollution Reduction and Energy Conservation
The project improved Montana farmers understanding of how the adoption of oilseed and biodiesel production can improve the environment and move farmers closer to the long term goal of viable on-and-off farm biodiesel production. The goals of the project were to:
- Educate, demonstrate and begin to quantify the reduction of petroleum use, and reduction of environmental effects from the use of bio-based fuels, products and production techniques;
- Increase Montana agriculture producers' and technical assistance providersí understanding of biodiesel and oilseed crop production.
- Identify what needs to be done to support the environmentally sound development and adoption of on-farm fuel production from oilseeds in Montana.
These goals were achieved by holding three workshops with direct information to at least 293 attendees, including tribal members, on how biodiesel can reduce environmental impacts by displacing fossil diesel.
Holding several farm tours and implementing mini-grants program added to this producer knowledge base. Two additional reports were made available on Internet and mailed to 500 interested to individuals and organizations. What still remains is the further investigation into how to balance the replacement of fossil diesel with oilseed crops in a way that can minimize fossil energy use, maintain or increase farm economic profitability and enhance community economic development. For the full final report please follow teh link listed below.
Montana AgSolar Project
The goal of the Montana AgSolar Project was to increase the agricultural uses of solar-electric power in Montana and beyond.
NCAT installed demonstration solar-electric water-pumping projects at six locations in Montana, publicized these projects, and also conducted a study of the market potential of solar-electric technologies in the agricultural sector of Montana Power Company's service region. NCAT interviewed farmers, ranchers, equipment dealers, installers, utility representatives, and staff from local, state, and federal agencies.
While acknowledging many barriers to adoption, the project reached a generally optimistic conclusion about the potential for solar-electric technologies in the agricultural community. Solar water pumping can benefit ranching and the environment at the same time, when it reduces livestock pressures on riparian areas.
The project report includes case studies of all six demonstration projects, lessons learned, and results of the market research study.
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
This online business directory
makes it easy to find or list sources of energy-related equipment, funding, and technical assistance. Just click on the map and zoom in on your state or town.
Farm Energy Calculators
Here you'll find links to several energy calculators
designed to help producers save electrical energy, fuel or fossil-fuel-based fertilizers.
Oilseeds for Fuel, Feed and the Future
The People's Climate Project
National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR)
is a free service for persons who want information on where to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
, which may pay a portion of the energy bills of eligible low-income persons. Call 1-866-NRG-NEAR