The Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, a project of Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development group, has reason to celebrate. On Oct. 17, it'll be releasing the Massachusetts Farm Energy Best Management Practices Guide at the Farm Energy Networking Event.
The event will kick off that day at 4 p.m. at Bramble Hill Farm, 593 S. Pleasant St., Amherst, Mass. It'll link farmers with energy experts and resources, including state and federal agencies, installers, vendors, and public utilities to initiate on-farm energy projects. RSVPs are required by Oct. 12th to [email protected] or (413) 256-1607.
Farmers anywhere in the Northeast who are interested in energy conservation or producing renewable energy as part of their farm business will be able to download the guide by October 17 at www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org/. It's a set of manuals for dairy, greenhouses, maple, orchards, vegetable farms and renewable energy system, with practical information about energy-conscious upgrades.
It includes equipment specifications, costs and payback periods and renewable energy technologies. It also helps identify opportunities, estimate financial savings, and find technical and funding resources to reduce energy use, minimize carbon emissions, and improve farm viability.
85 farms are proof of the savings
"This is a practical resource for the farming community that focuses on cost-effective equipment upgrades to improve efficiency and environmental performance", says maple producer J.P. Welch of Justamere Tree Farm. "For farmers with limited time, this guide provides a straightforward entry point to on-farm energy saving measures and renewable systems that make use of farmers' technical skills and systems-thinking," says the Worthington, Mass., farmer.
The guide's recommendations are based on industry research and data from more than 50 farms that participated in MFEP energy audits across the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service supported development of the publications.
"These guides are a unique resource. They provide enough detail so that we can use them to fine-tune our programs for the scale of farming found in our state. At the same time, the best management practices are informed by real-life Massachusetts farms so they are useful to farmers who are new to energy technologies," said Christine Clarke, NRCS Massachusetts State Conservationist.
Since 2008, MFEP has worked with over 300 farmers, assisted in leveraging $5 million for farm energy projects implementation. More than 85 projects were completed on 61 farms, at an average savings of $14,300 per farm.
Again, the Massachusetts Farm Energy Best Management Practices Guide will be available by October 17 at www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org/.