Converting airport grasslands to biofuel, solar or wind production may not only provide more environmentally sound alternative energy sources, but also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of wildlife hazardous to aircraft. U. S. Department of Agriculture research is helping shed light on this promising concept. USDA photo by David Bergman.
Most people are familiar with the weekly summer ritual of mowing the lawn. At best, the smell of fresh cut grass is appealing, but often the task is considered time consuming, tiring and expensive. What if your “lawn” was actually hundreds of acres in size, and how often you mowed it, what type of grass you had, and if you used pesticides greatly impacted the safety of nearby residents? “Mowing the lawn” is just one of the tasks airport managers and biologists confront as they work to keep wildlife away from runways and aircraft. Read more »
Did you know that USDA manages 193 million acres of land; occupies approximately 89 million square feet of office and laboratory space and operates over 23,000 buildings? And if this isn’t enough, USDA also operates a fleet of over 40,000 motor vehicles and equipment.
Photo of green roof on court 5 of the South Building. Saves energy and reduces excessive stormwater runoff (which supports our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay).
With statistics like these, it is no wonder that USDA remains focused on reducing its rather significant environmental footprint by using clean energy while working towards improving the environment. To accomplish this, USDA conducts its operations in a sustainable manner, complies with environmental laws and regulations and walks its talk. Read more »
Chris Holliday has more pastureland than he needs for his cows—335 acres to be exact. So when USDA introduced a way to use that land to help create clean energy while reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, he saw it as an opportunity.
“I thought it was a good idea and I had a good feeling about it,” said Holliday, owner of Holliday Investment in Prairie Home, Mo. He is one of several farmers that signed up acreage in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, last year. All 335 acres will be used to plant Miscanthus, a giant perennial grass that can be processed into a biofuel.
The USDA incentive greatly reduces farmers’ expenses to finance the planting, harvesting and delivery of the Miscanthus for processing. BCAP pays farmers up to 75 percent of the planting costs and offers an annual rental payment while producers wait for the crop to mature, which takes about three years. Read more »
As the team at Legend Seeds of De Smet, South Dakota, gears up for spring and the 2012 growing season, they do so from a newly-constructed, state-of-the-art facility, located just east of their former space on Highway 14. The new office, seed lab and expanded warehouse space were designed to better accommodate the additional full-time office staff needed to support the stretching trade area and growing field staff for the Legend organization. Thanks to a USDA program, the building is also energy efficient.
USDA Business & Cooperative Program Director Dana Kleinsasser(left), Area Specialist Darlene Bresson, and Legend Seeds President Glen Davis check out the biomass boiler system, which saves 60 percent of the cost of heating the seed company building, compared to the previous system.
The former office space that was purchased in 1992 had been remodeled and updated over the years but Legend owner, Glen Davis, recognized that the increasing demand for productivity would be best met if he augmented the workspace and workflow for his talented team. In addition to a fresh contemporary look and serviceable layout, the new space boasts an impressive, highly-efficient heating and cooling system powered by a 250,000 BTU biomass boiler. Read more »
David Fink, owner of Heidel Hollow Farm, described the farm’s energy savings from the 896 panel solar array funded by USDA Rural Development to USDA officials and others gathered at his farm.
The sun shone brightly on the 896 panel solar array at Heidel Hollow Farm in Germansville, Penn., as USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl L. Cook, other USDA officials and guests celebrated the farm’s successful renewable energy project and the announcement of a new USDA Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Report. Heidel Hollow Farm, a family-owned, 1,600 acre hay farm, was awarded two USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants in 2010. The grants were used toward a solar energy project that provides approximately 252,800 KW of electricity used in the hay compressing operation of the farm and an energy efficiency project that replaced one diesel engine with five electric motors, saving over 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. The compactor increases the density of baled hay by 2 1/2 times for more efficient shipping to overseas customers. Read more »
Hundreds of people, over the web or in person, learned about the financing and technology of anaerobic digester systems, the subject of a pair of webinars recently hosted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A broad spectrum of individuals participated including academics, farmers, and representatives of the environmental community. Read more »