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Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Review: Agri-business, sustainable
ag add up to big economy in our Kentucky

The business of agriculture is big business in Kentucky, one family at a time, and sustainable agriculture is increasingly on the public agenda – how to have safe, plentiful, affordable food to put on the family table. KyForward’s informative stories on agri-business issues have been wide-ranging – from commercial farming to backyard gardens. Here is one of our favorites, though we provide lots of other options for your reading pleasure

Farmer hopes to eliminate propane bill
this winter with energy-efficient biomass boiler


As the temperatures drop, many people are wondering how they can reduce winter energy costs, and one Hart County producer may have it figured out.

Hart County farmer Paul Dennison installed this biomass gasification boiler to improve his energy efficiency earlier this year. (Photo by Katie Pratt, UK agricultural communications specialist)

Paul Dennison, a grower of various horticultural crops and tobacco in Horse Cave, hopes to eliminate an energy bill this winter with a biomass gasification boiler he installed this past spring at his farming operation.

“If this thing is as efficient as I’m hoping, we won’t have to buy any more propane,” he said.

Dennison installed the boiler with the help of Chris Clark, Hart County agriculture and natural resources agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Clark connected Dennison with personnel in the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, who were conducting on-farm energy audits for farmers as part of a grant the UK Cooperative Extension Service received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The audit helped Dennison determine whether the boiler might be more efficient than his current heat source, propane. The audit also helped him secure partial funding for the project from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy’s On-Farm Energy Efficiency and Production Assistance program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The boiler is energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” Clark said. “I think it addresses a lot of issues that we’re looking at as a nation in being ecologically sound.”

Dennison’s boiler provides heat for his five greenhouses, a roadside market and other buildings, which previously used 2,000 gallons of propane each winter. He uses wood from old fencerows and the forest on his farm to heat the water in the boiler. The boiler pipes the water underground to an air-heat exchanger, which blows warm air into each of the structures.

The unit is rated at 95 percent efficiency, and Dennison was impressed with the amount of heat it produced during the short period it was active in the spring.

“It’s amazing how much heat will come off the radiator,” he said. “It really feels like a big gas furnace.”

In addition to lowering his energy costs, the boiler may help Dennison keep his roadside market open longer this year.

“We might possibly decide to stay open until Christmas, because if the stove proves to be efficient, we won’t have a heating bill to contend with,” he said.

Click here to view a video of Dennison’s boiler.

From UK College of Ag

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For more agri-business and sustainable agriculture stories:

Jim Embry, born into social activism, focuses today on food equity and sustainability

Tim Thornberry: Even in challenging times, Kentucky agriculture scores a record year

Until biomass-for-fuels idea takes hold, other uses sought for crops like switchgrass

Judy Clabes: The Kentuckians who care about our food supply at least deserve appreciation

Industrial hemp advocates want Kentucky back in lead as industry sees resurgence

2012 proved to be a roller coaster ride for U.S. Farm Bill, leaving many in ag industry worried

Q&A with Anne Hopkins: Good Foods’ GM passionate about agriculture, sustainability

Bass, veggies developing in sustainable food aquaponics setup at Tates Creek High School

Extension agents bring local food to schools across the state, educate students on farming

Food Works project launches website on local, healthy foods, will host workshops, events

Ready, Set, Grow: A Kid’s Guide to Gardening program launches to promote local food

UK College of Agriculture receives nearly $600,000 to assist beginning farmers

Farmers persevering through drought, hoping for better weather next season

New study from UK College of Ag found strong growth in Kentucky’s produce sector

For 50 years – and counting – farm group has been helping farmers manage business

To read all the 2012 reviews click here.



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