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Farms with dairy operations and/or irrigation can save 10% to 25% on utilities with state-of-tech energy efficient changes having speedy paybacks.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

February 14, 2016

2 Min Read

Colorado recently announced a new energy efficiency initiative for dairies and irrigators – something numerous states in the East have had for years. But the take-home point is payback potential.

Last year’s pilot project in Colorado averaged 10% to 25% energy savings via improvements. Better yet, the average payback was anywhere from one to three years, according to Michael Turner, manager of Colorado’s energy efficiency program.

You’d welcome such savings for your farm’s bottom line, right? All three elements that accomplish that success are already available in most Northeast states:

* a free energy audit

* a renewable energy evaluation/assessment


* technical support and access to financial resources to reduce up-front costs of energy efficiency improvements.

Options are countless, ranging from new lighting or heat recovery systems, water-saving irrigation drop nozzles, all the way to manure digesters, wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels. It all begins with an energy audit and an assessment of renewable energy options.

Where to start
The best place to start researching your farm’s potential is at farm shows and your nearest Extension office. Both will be well worth your time.

The upcoming New York Farm Show, for instance, has more than a dozen exhibitors offering energy efficient equipment or services and 10 offering state-of-technology lighting. Check out who’s offering what at the show in the show program in the middle of your February issue of American Agriculturist.


Perhaps the most important step is finding a highly reliable consultant to work with you from the renewable energy assessment stage, through grant funding to installation. Thanks to December’s federal stop-gap funding bill, renewable energy tax credits for solar, wind, geothermal and more were extended for five years. Expert help is likely needed to gain grant funding and tax benefits.

In last May’s cover and inside stories, we shared Scott Clewell’s positive experience. The Pennsylvania farmer installed solar arrays that were ahead of the projected 5-year payback schedule. If you didn’t keep the magazine copy, catch the two-part American Agriculturist story by clicking on Sun-powered and Where solar’s payback comes from.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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