We Can Do Better

We Can Do Better

We Can Do Better. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

Being energy efficient is kind of like a game. We have replaced just about all the light bulbs in our home and done some of the other things to increase efficiency. So how are you doing? When it comes to using energy efficiently and developing renewable sources, agriculture in the northwest is doing okay. But a new report says farmers and ranchers can do better: The report issued by the Oregon Department of Agriculture points out there are a lot of energy efficiency opportunities out there for farms and ranches.

PAGE: There are a few farms out there that have not only made all the efficiency improvements they possibly can, but are starting to do renewable projects to replace some of their energy use. But I think the vast majority of farmers and ranchers out there have a lot of efficiency improvements that they can still make.

Stephanie Page is ODA's renewable energy specialist. She says energy is a significant and unpredictable cost for Oregon ag producers. That's why a combination of making energy efficiencies and developing renewable energy is attractive. However.

PAGE: If someone is looking at where to start, I would definitely suggest looking at efficiency opportunities first. They tend to be a lower cost to start with and pay back more quickly.

Page says if the farm has reduced energy use as much as possible, they can then start to look at renewable energy opportunities, such as building anaerobic digesters or growing bio-fuel crops. The report will hopefully be used to support efforts to continue energy-related incentive programs and technical assistance to producers. Page says there are many examples of Oregon agriculture making wise use of energy, but there needs to be more.

PAGE: We've had greenhouses making heating efficiency improvements. A lot of folks have been doing irrigation efficiency upgrades. They've received support from several state incentives, utility incentives, and national funding programs. We really need to preserve the incentives and the technical capacity that is out there.

Page says there is one specific area outlined in the report that needs attention when it comes to energy use in agriculture.

PAGE: I think anything we can do to help folks reduce fertilizer use and even look for renewable sources of fertilizer- just like we are looking for fuel and renewable electricity sources- that's really going to be important for agriculture in the US over time.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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