The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing funds for 516 renewable energy equipment and energy efficiency projects to help farmers with their willingly participation to a clean energy future.
Farmers, ranchers and owners of rural businesses are eagerly taking the opportunity to improve their operations, develop new sources of renewable energy and reduce cost with the federal clean energy loans and grants adding up to $30 million.
The USDA has already stepped into the farmers’ courtyards through AgStar program, which encourages the use of methane recovery (biogas) technologies at the confined animal feeding operations that manage manure as liquids or slurries.
The new funding is provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which extends the renewable energy field in agriculture as to include many solar installations, wind, biomass and geothermal turbines, equipment upgrades to generate and save more energy.
Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. So, one of the farm owners who turned out to be eligible for receiving the money purchased a new grain dryer saving big on the energy bill.
According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, grain dryers are used primarily for shelled corn that is stored on site.
A while ago, natural gas and other fossil fuels were used for hot-air drying, but the current technology relies on ambient air temperature. NSAIS also points out the possibility for the solar technology to be a good alternative for grain drying at small and medium sized farms.