Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Videos demonstrate how farmers reduce fossil fuel use

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March 30, 2012

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – To further help Iowa farmers on small to mid-sized operations learn ways to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel use, the Iowa Farm Energy Working Group produced three videos of farmers telling how they use energy efficiency, conservation, or renewable energy successfully on their farms.

“Farmers tell us that to adopt something new they want to see the idea in action and be sure it will work. What better way than to have their neighbors, other farmers, show and tell them about practices to reduce fossil fuel use and save money,” said Carole Yates, working group facilitator. The working group is funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and facilitated through the Center for Energy & Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa.

“We wanted to make reducing energy use visible as well as making the Leopold Center’s farm energy work more notable to a broader audience,” Yates explained of the project that is one part of the working group’s mission.

Farmers were interviewed about how they reduced energy use and video of the farm energy innovations was shot to produce three short videos, each about four minutes in length. The videos are part of a larger project to be released later this year telling farmers about funding options for energy efficiency/renewable energy projects and how to get a farm energy audit to learn other ways to reduce energy use on the farm.

Videos to date include:

  • High Hopes Gardens, Mark Runquist and Linda Barnes, Melbourne – On this seven-acre diversified farm, the owners installed a 2.4 kW Skystream wind turbine in 2008 that provides 39% of the farm and home energy needs.
  • Pheasant Run Farms, Eric and Ann Franzenberg, Van Horne –These farmers use a corn kernel boiler and hot water system to heat three large greenhouses and extend the seasons to grow medicinal herbs for Frontier Natural Products, cut flowers, and to start a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They grow the corn that is used for fuel.
  • Frantzen Farms, Tom and Irene Frantzen, New Hampton – An energy flow analysis of the 385-acre diversified organic farm showed the Frantzens where they could reduce energy use in their 1890 home and also in farming operations. They air dry their corn crop whenever weather permits and are investigating other ways to reduce energy and exposure to volatile energy costs and changes in climate.

To read these farmer success stories and also view the videos, visit www.ceee.uni.edu/farmenergy.aspx.

For more info contact:

Carole Yates, UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education, carole.yates@uni.edu, (319) 273-7599

Laura Miller, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, lwmiller@iastate.edu, (515) 294-5272

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