Penn State Works to Improve Farm Energy
"The most renewable energy is the energy you never use."
While Benjamin Franklin may not have said that, he undoubtedly would have agreed. Energy efficiency is arguably the most effective way to combat rising energy costs and dwindling availability of fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, when it comes to farming, not many people understand the unique energy aspects of modern farm operations, which makes it hard for farmers to find the information or help they need. Recent workshops held by Penn State Cooperative Extension have aimed at addressing this problem.
Two workshops were held in June at the Lancaster Farm and Home Center, which focused on:
- Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency
- Greenhouse Energy Efficiency.
These one-day workshops covered the fundamentals of farm energy efficiency, and taught attendees the skills needed to perform an energy assessment on a Pennsylvania farm. Attendees included extension educators, energy consultants, and farmers from throughout the state.
One valuable component of the workshops was that, after the lectures and the ample lunch, the workshop moved out to a nearby farm or greenhouse, where the skills that were talked about were put into practice under real farm conditions.
Our hope is that, in the coming months, workshop participants will be putting their skills to further use on farms and greenhouses throughout the state, which will in turn help create farms that are more energy efficient, cost competitive, and sustainable over the long run. The long term goal of the program is to create a community of farm energy experts in Pennsylvania that can meet the needs of our agricultural sector. Energy experts at Penn State will be assisting participants with carrying out their first few farm assessments, and will be on hand for unusual problems that might crop up.
If all goes well, the next few years will see real improvements to the energy status of farms in the state.
Dan Ciolkosz, PSU Ag & Bio Engineering Department