Getting the Most from Your Energy Dollar...
Using Energy Wisely on the Farm and Ranch

There’s no avoiding this reality in farming:  Energy is one of the more expensive components of raising crops and livestock.  In 2006, direct energy expenditures in agriculture accounted for 5-7 percent of farm expenditures.  An earlier USDA study found that nearly half the cost of production was spent for energy.

Innovative Ideas for Corn Stover
Author Kris Bevill, in "Stover for Power – Not Just Biofuels", suggests financing and technological approaches for converting corn stover into useful and marketable energy products.

Biodiesel Inputs vs. Outputs
"Energy Life Cycle Analysis of Biodiesel," on the University of Nebraska Lincoln eXtension website, describes the process of energy life cycle analysis — also popularly known as "energy balance" — accounts for the amount and type of energy used in the production of a fuel and compares that to the amount of energy contained in the resulting fuel. Several studies have been done on the energy life cycle of biodiesel. These studies often have widely differing results because the inputs were different, the assumptions were different, and the energy inputs were divided differently among the various products of the process. Results from recent studies on soy biodiesel are presented, and the importance of these and similar studies is addressed.

Dairies Cut Costs While Saving Energy
"Technology Upgrades Cut Costs," describes the efforts to cut costs and save energy in dairies. By making simple energy efficiency upgrades, such as switching to higher-efficiency light bulbs and upgrading to variable speed drive vacuum pumps, the featured dairies were able to significantly reduce energy expenditures. Dairy operators report saving tens of thousands of dollars. A dairy in Idaho which milks 5,500 head of cows, replaced all of its 400-watt light bulbs, which will save the operation an estimated $10,000 annually.

FarmWare 3.6 for Anerobic Digesters
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency AgStar Partnership Program released FarmWare 3.6, an updated version of its FarmWare software, in November 2011.  FarmWare is a modeling software which — given the appropriate inputs — can estimate the costs and returns of integrating an anaerobic digestion system into an existing or planned livestock facility.  Anerobic Digester Software Screening Forms can be used by producers who are interested in determining whether anaerobic digestion could be feasible for their operation. Upon receipt of the forms, an AgSTAR representative will follow up to discuss whether a more in-depth pre-feasibility assessment should be conducted.

Tips for Calculating Payback from Energy-Saving Investments
"Estimating Payback for Energy Efficiency," from Iowa State University Extension, provides tools for evaluating the investment vs. return of energy-saving equipment purchases. Just because a new piece of farm equipment is more energy efficient doesn't mean that replacing older equipment is a wise investment. Learn how to calculate simple payback for energy savings. Find out how quickly the returns from reduced energy costs will help the investment reach its break-even point. Calculations are given for determining the break-even point of energy savings vs. outlay, thus providing valuable decision making criteria for those looking to replace older equipment.
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