Looking for ways to cut farm energy costs? It's as easy as clicking on one or more of Massachusetts' Farm Energy Best Management Practices Guides now available online at Farm Energy Guides.
And you don't have to be from Massachusetts to gain the valuable information proven on Bay State farms.
The five energy guides are for dairy, greenhouses, orchards and vegetable farms, and maple producers, and renewable energy for all farms, says Jessica Cook, program manager for Massachusetts Farm Energy Program. The series was developed by the Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation & Development
The detailed guides include equipment specifications, costs and payback periods and renewable energy technologies to identify energy upgrade opportunities, estimate financial savings, and find technical and funding resources. "They provide a straightforward entry point to on-farm energy-saving measures and renewable systems that make use of farmers' technical skills and systems-thinking," adds Cook.
The guides have regional and national significance for federal and state agricultural agencies, private sector players and service providers offering financial incentives and technical assistance to farmers. They provide sufficient detail for industry professionals and can be applied to similarly-scaled farms in other states.
"These guides are a unique resource. They provide real-life examples from Massachusetts farms so that we can fine-tune our federal programs for the scale of farming found in this part of the country," says Christine Clarke, NRCS Massachusetts State Conservationist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. At Cider Hill Farm of Amesbury, Mass., for example, a wood boiler was installed to provide winter heat for high tunnels.
MFEP helped develop 137 projects on 86 farms since the project was initiated in 2008. Some $4.5 million was leveraged for farm energy projects implementation, equivalent to about 60% of total project costs.
The projects collectively save those farms approximately $870,000 annually, says Cook, via reduced energy use or replacement with renewable energy. They reduce carbon emissions from the Massachusetts agricultural sector by approximately 10,000 tons annually.