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 Alternative energy is a major topic at Agritechnica 2011

Alternative energy is a major topic at Agritechnica 2011

The influence of sustainable agricultural systems is evident at Agritechnica 2011, with two buildings filled with companies devoted to alternative energy solutions for the farm — from biogas to solar to wind, and everything in between.

Germany is a leader in the development of on-farm biogas systems, and the many companies here are touting their systems in high-tech displays. These are not just systems for livestock producers. European farmers are banding together to develop these systems for energy generation for their farms and to sell back to the grid. For instance, on a bus ride this morning, a corn farmer explained how he was developing a biogas system with six neighboring farms.

Sustainable agriculture is also reaching the companies. Steyr, an Austrian tractor manufacturer, is displaying a prototype tractor that can run on biogas produced on the farm. And New Holland is using its hydrogen tractor prototype on a test farm where all the energy is produced right on the farm.

The driving factor in Europe for these systems is the cost of energy. But producers in the U.S. may want to keep an eye on these exciting developments.

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