Michigan Bioenergy and Energy Conservation Tour

The tour will help Michigan farmers understand the economic benefits of a hybrid bioenergy production system and energy conservation practices.

Self-generated renewable fuels can be a valuable asset to an agricultural operation. For many farms, energy represents a large fraction of their variable costs of production. To mitigate the risk of over-reliance on fossil-fuel energy sources, agricultural operations are seeking alternative energy solutions to meet on-farm energy needs and to improve the overall environmental quality on the farm.

Michigan State University Extension is sponsoring a tour that addresses on-farm energy needs in two ways – a hybrid on-farm energy system that can produce multiple types of bioenergy from both oilseed crops (biodiesel) and agricultural waste (biogas) and reduced energy consumption through implementing energy conservation practices. The tour will help Michigan farmers understand the economic benefits of the hybrid bioenergy production system and implementing energy conservation practices.

The hybrid on-farm energy system is an innovative energy strategy for on-farm bioenergy production with less technical risk than other new energy generation approaches since it is based on the proven technologies of biodiesel-from-oilseeds and biogas from anaerobic digestion. The especially positive (and innovative) feature of this project is the enhanced energy production efficiency achieved by combining two parallel energy production processes. Enhanced efficiency is critical if the farmer is to cost-effectively replace purchased fossil-fuels that are used on-farm. The findings of the hybrid bioenergy production system will be highlighted in the morning. A USDA Conservation Innovation Grant was secured to fund this project.

Implementing energy conservation practices are possible through power company rebates and USDA grant dollars and low interest loans. There has never been a better time to implement energy conservation practices than now. Participants on the tour will visit two farms with USDA REAP-funded energy-conserving grain drying and irrigation equipment. Michigan farmers who have replaced grain dryers and irrigation pumps have seen, on average, a 35 and 73 percent reduction in energy costs respectively.

The tour is scheduled for Thursday, August 28, 2014 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. It will begin and end at the MSU Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center, 4090 College Road, Lansing, MI 48910.

There is a $10 fee to participate in this bus tour. Bus seats will be filled on a first come, first served basis until all seats are full. The registration deadline is Thursday, August 21, and is available online. Tour participants are asked to ride the bus, not drive their personal vehicles to the tour stops. The tour agenda is available online

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