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December 3rd, 2009
AMES, Iowa — As energy and fuel costs increase, Iowa's agricultural producers are feeling the pinch.
To address energy costs Iowa State University Extension has partnered with Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Consumers Energy with a program to promote energy-use awareness. The program will help Iowa's producers reduce fuel and energy costs.
The Farm Energy Check-Up program is a whole-farm energy audit program designed to highlight potential ways Iowa's livestock and crop producers can lower their farm energy costs and improve conservation and efficiency.
The program will include four meetings held on Dec. 16-17, in different regions of Iowa. On Dec. 16, meetings will be held in Fort Dodge at 9 a.m. at the Webster County Extension office; and in Jefferson at 1:30 p.m. in the Green County Extension office.
On Dec. 17, meetings will be held in Sac City at 9 a.m. in the Sac County Extension office; and in Harlan at 1:30 p.m. in the Shelby County Extension office.
"The program shows easy things farmers can do quickly and inexpensively, and without much help, to lower energy costs in their operations," said Mark Licht, ISU Extension field agronomist in Carroll who is coordinating the meeting series.
There is no cost to attend the meetings, which will feature presentations by Consumers Energy and Iowa State on the Farm Energy Check-Up program and farm energy savings opportunities.
David Stineman, energy solutions manager for Consumers Energy, will provide an overview of the Farm Energy Check-Up program and explain what producers need to do to get involved.
Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer, will discuss the potential for energy savings in Iowa agriculture from both a crops and livestock perspective. On the crops side, Hanna said three key areas of the operation are big energy users: field operations, such as tractor use; grain drying, especially corn; and indirect energy sinks, such as nitrogen fertilizer.
"On the livestock side, it's things like ventilation, heating, insulation and lighting," Hanna said. "Energy costs could be related to management issues. For instance, we need a certain amount of ventilation to control moisture and heat release by animals. But if you start to over-ventilate, you can start blowing heated air out of the building and lose money in the process."
Producers who attend the meetings will receive a free pre-audit assessment form, a requirement to enter the program; learn about grant opportunities available to them through the USDA's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program; and have a chance for face-to-face counseling about on-farm energy use in their operations.
Those unable to attend the meetings can still participate in the audit program and receive a pre-audit assessment form by contacting Stineman of Consumers Energy at (641) 754-1645 or by e-mail at DStineman@consumersenergy.net.
The Farm Energy Check-Up program is sponsored by ISU Extension, the ISU Corn and Soybean Initiative, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Consumers Energy.
The program is part of a larger project, the Farm Energy Conservation and Efficiency Initiative, headed by the Iowa Energy Center and co-led by Hanna and ISU Extension agricultural engineer Jay Harmon.