September 22, 2014

Farmers given grants to improve energy efficiency

Three northeast Iowa farmers have each been awarded $5,000 grants to improve the energy efficiency of their operations. The grants come from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. The center’s director, Jerry DeWitt, is hoping the money will help the farmers develop techniques that can be used statewide. He says they’ve formed a partnership with the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education.

“We’re actually investing in their center so that a working group can be formed statewide, which will bring together a cast of many different players – from agriculture, policy, universities, farm organizations, etcetera – to look at how can we conserve energy and be more profitable in our farms and communities around the state,” DeWitt said. The director of the UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education is Kamyar Enshayan.

“We felt like there is an opportunity here to help farms meet a greater portion of their energy needs from the resources of their farm and a coherent statewide set of programs aren’t available,” Enshayan said. Those receiving the grants include a farmer near Melbourne who will use wind turbine energy and a fruit and vegetable farmer near Waterloo who will use more solar energy in a green house. A third farmer in Waverly will incorporate more underground storage for his potatoes.