Building Extension Capacity in the North Central Region to Address Agricultural Energy Use

Final Report for ENC09-110

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2009: $74,919.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Co-Coordinators:
Scott Sanford
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Project Information

Abstract:

This project combined the expertise of five universities to deliver two sets of webinars on energy efficiency related topics for a total of 24 webinars. The topics included grain drying, greenhouse efficiency, heating with biomass, irrigation water management, irrigation system testing, dairy farm energy efficiency, lighting systems, animal housing (ventilation), anaerobic digestion, and introduction to life cycle analysis of milk production. There were 233 people that registered for at least one webinar but the average was 2.5 webinars per individual. Based on pre and post webinar surveys, participant’s knowledge increased 80% from attending the webinars. Presentations and recordings of the webinars are available at eXtension.org under Farm Energy.

Project Objectives:
  • The key audience is educators with an agricultural energy interest associated with Extension, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and non-government organizations. Agricultural Producers (through programs delivered by trained agricultural educators) are the secondary target audience.

    The target is to reach 10 Agricultural Educator per state or 120 educators across the NC Region.

    Develop PowerPoint presentations and supporting materials for crop production, animal housing, greenhouses, irrigation and grain drying. Deliver train the trainer sessions using distance education technology (webinars). Post videos of the presentations and supporting documents on eXtension.org.

    Deliver “coffee break workshops” to agricultural producers via distance education technology.

Introduction:

The proposed project will develop capacity by sharing expertise across the North Central Region and begin implementation of a comprehensive farm energy conservation and efficiency educational initiative. Project components will include (1) assembly and sharing of our best farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials; (2) building capacity within the ranks of Extension and other agricultural educators for the inclusion of energy concepts in educational programs for agricultural producers; (3) archiving these resources and supporting training within eXtension for future educator use; and (4) evaluating educator and producer attitudes, knowledge and behavior changes. This is a collaborative effort of 12 North Central state extension Program Leaders and faculty.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Kenneth Hellevang
  • Kevin Janni
  • William Kranz
  • Scott Sanford
  • Truman Surbrook

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Participants were asked to complete a pre-test to evaluate their knowledge of the subject matter before the webinar. After the webinar was over, participants were emailed a link to an anonymous post-survey to measure knowledge gained due to the webinar. Pre and post surveys usually contained some of the same questions but usually had some new questions about information presented. Percentage of knowledge gain was the measured as the difference in the percentage increase of correct answers between the pre- and post- survey.

The post survey also asked participant to rate the presenter’s presentations and content. It also asked how the person was planning on using the information gained and gave the following choices:
• Use information for my own farm or business
• Use program and information to educate others
• Use information to help others in one to one meetings
• Other:
• Will likely not use the information

Outreach and Publications

Ag Energy Professional Development Series (2011)

This series of energy efficiency webinars, sponsored by a SARE PD grant, is targeted at county or regional based extension educators in the upper Midwest and beyond. It will cover six major agricultural enterprises: Livestock and Poultry, Irrigation, grain drying, greenhouses, field operations and dairy farms. Each one hour webinar covers a different topic.

Energy Conservation for Livestock and Poultry Production
Kevin Janni, Larry Jacobson and Hongwei Xin
Rising energy prices and concerns about energy availability are driving livestock and poultry producers and managers to review their energy use and implement energy conservation practices. For economical production livestock and poultry producers must balance feed energy, fossil fuel and electricity costs against product sales while providing for animal and employee well-being. This webinar will describe key ways to conserve energy while enhancing animal well-being and production.

Speakers for this webcast include: Kevin Janni and Larry Jacobson, who are both Professors and Extension engineers in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, and Hongwei Xin, Professor in the Department of Agricultural Engineering and Biosystems Engineering and the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University
Recorded May 10, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/energy-conservation-livestock-and-poultry-production

Managing Field Operations to Reduce Energy Costs – Mark Hanna
Reducing energy use in cropping operations involves good maintenance of equipment, reducing tillage operations, ballasting tractors properly, nitrogen management and reducing grain drying energy use. Webinar will make the case for using minimum tillage, timely routine tractor maintenance, crop rotations with legumes and shorter maturity corn to reduce drying costs.

Speaker: Mark Hanna is an Extension Agricultural Engineer at Iowa State University specializing in mechanized field operations.
Recorded May 17, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/managing-field-operations-reduce-energy-costs

Irrigation series – William Kranz
Delivery of irrigation water through on farm irrigation systems from ground or surface water sources typically requires the addition of energy. The amount of energy that must be added is controlled by the type of irrigation delivery system, elevation difference between the field and the water source, inches of water applied, and the land area being irrigated. In this three part series participants will become familiar with how to determine how much energy is required if all components of the system are operating at near peak efficiency.

Speaker: William Kranz Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Irrigation Specialist in the department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska Extension.

Irrigation Pumping Plants
Webinar will discuss how to determine pumping plant performance based on field testing and estimating pumping efficiency using energy records from the producer.
Recorded May 24, 2011 Tuesday, – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/irrigation-pumping-plant-efficiency

Irrigation Scheduling
Ensuring an adequate amount of water in the crop root zone for the plant growth stage is the goal of irrigation management. This can be accommodated with a combination of rainfall and irrigation. If done properly there is usually an opportunity to reduce the overall amount of water needed to grow a productive crop. Webinar will discuss how to reduce energy use through implementing irrigation scheduling tools and evaluating water application efficiency.
Recorded June 7, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/irrigation-scheduling

Irrigation Pipeline Distribution Systems
Irrigation pipeline design can have a long term effect on the energy use of an irrigation system. If the pipeline is undersized or poorly laid out, it can increase the cost of operation for the life of the system. Webinar will evaluate irrigation pipeline designs to assess the energy required and the long term economics of different pipeline sizes.
Recorded June 21, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/irrigation-pipeline-distribution-energy

Greenhouse Series – Scott Sanford
Growers can often reduce energy cost by 30 to 50% by using energy efficient growing practices, tightening the greenhouse enclosure to reduce infiltration losses, replacing inefficient heating systems and installing curtain systems. Often growers turn to wood as a way to reduce energy costs instead of implementing efficiency measures. But some of the wood boilers are very inefficient and may cost more to operate than if energy efficiency measures were implemented. The webinars will cover energy measures for greenhouse, thermal curtain systems and the use of biomass energy for heating greenhouses

Speaker: Scott Sanford is a Sr. Outreach Specialist in the department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works on energy issues in agriculture and renewable energy.

Greenhouse Energy Efficiency
Topics will include type of structure, glazing materials, types of heat loss, infiltration losses, heating systems, heat distribution, thermal curtains, space efficiency, summer ventilation, supplemental lighting and a brief look at passive solar greenhouse design.
Recorded May 31, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/greenhouse-energy-efficiency

Thermal/Shade Curtains for Greenhouses
Topic covered include the advantages and uses of a curtain system, types of configurations, installation issues, basic components, types of curtain materials, installation, curtain opening devices, controls, curtain management, approximate energy savings and installed costs. We also look at an alternative technology that uses foam between poly films to reduce heat losses. There are several greenhouse energy estimation tools available for estimating the energy use and potential energy savings from different energy conserving technologies and management practices which will be reviewed.
Recorded June 2, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/thermalshade-curtains-greenhouses

Alternative Fuels for Heating Greenhouses
This presentation will look at different potential fuel sources (biomass & used oils), types of furnaces and boilers including outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters, pellet or grain fired boilers/furnaces, stand alone stoves and a case study of two greenhouses. We’ll wrap up the presentation with information on energy grants to help pay cost share the capital costs of energy saving equipment or heating equipment to burn a renewable fuel.
Recorded June 14, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/alternative-fuels-heating-greenhouses

Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency
Dairy farm’s cost of energy for harvesting and cooling milk and environment control of housing is about 2% of total production costs. The portions of total costs maybe low but there are things that are very cost affective to reduce the electric bills that can add up to thousands of dollars per year in savings. The webinars will look at reducing energy use for milk cooling, water heating, vacuum pumps, ventilation, lighting and water fountains.

Milking System, Variable Frequency Drives and Waterers
This webinar covers variable speed application for vacuum pumps and well water cooled heat exchangers, and the types of electrical services used for agricultural enterprises.
Speaker: Truman Surbrook, Ph.D is a professor of Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University specializing in energy and electrical wiring and usage for agriculture.
Recorded May 19, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/milking-system-variable-frequency-drives-single-phase-installation-issues-and-waterers

Milk Cooling, Water Heating, and Heat Recovery Systems
This webinar covers the use of plate heat exchangers, scroll compressor for bulk tanks, water heaters (conventional, high efficiency and tankless types) and heat recovery units.
Speaker: Dan Schruaben P.E. is a professional engineer and a Certified Energy Auditor in Michigan for performing farm energy audits.
Recorded May 26, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/milk-cooling-water-heating-and-heat-recovery-systems

Lighting, Electric Motors and Block Heaters
This webinar looks at factors that quantify the quality of light emitted from a source, and how it is measured. All lamp types are discussed including linear T5 and T8 Fluorescent, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), high intensity discharge lamps such as mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, and metal halide. Induction lamps, a new type of fluorescent lamp that has extremely long life, and LED lamps are also discussed. The Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 and the 2005 Energy Policy Act eliminated the manufacture and importation of standard 40 to 100 watt incandescent lamps, T12 magnetic ballasts and mercury vapor ballasts. Alternatives will be recommended which will save energy costs.
Speaker: Jon Althouse is an instructor of electrical technology at Michigan State University and a Master Electrician. He teaches on the topics of electrical wiring, robitics in agriculture, animal housing and ventilation.
Recorded June 16, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/dairy-farm-energy-efficiency-lighting

Ventilation, Manure Handling, Diesel to electric motor conversions
This webinar looks at natural ventilation, the different types of circulating fans for air circulation in barns, calf housing ventilation, tunnel ventilation and evaporative cooling with tunnel ventilation. Manure systems are reviewed and the value of the nitrogen in manure and the energy value if processed with anaerobic digestion. A fuel cost comparison is presented for electricity versus other motor fuels.
Speaker: Aluel Go is on Outreach specialist at Michigan State University working on agricultural energy topics and is the coordinator for Michigan’s Dairy Energy Auditor Training program.
Recorded June 23, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/dairy-farm-energy-efficiency-ventilation-manure-handling-and-fuel-cost-comparisons

Improving Grain Drying Energy Efficiency – Kenneth Hellevang
Using energy efficient grain drying methods in the North Central Region has the potential to annually save about 200 million gallons of LP gas and 100 million kWh of electricity with a value of about $308 million. This is based on a conservative energy efficiency improvement of just 15%, using an LP cost of $1.50 per gallon savings and an electric cost of $0.08 per kWh.

The webinar will cover the types of grain dryers, energy conservation features of grain dryers and drying systems, and the expected energy consumption of various dryers and systems. Dr. Hellevang will also cover how a grain dryer energy audit is conducted.

Speaker: Kenneth Hellevang Ph,D. is a professor in the department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at North Dakota State University. He is an Extension Engineer specializing in grain drying, handling and storage, vegetable storage, structures engineering and building environment.
Recorded June 28, 2011 – Link to recording
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/improving-grain-drying-energy-efficiency

2012-13 Agricultural Energy Webinar Series

Heating Greenhouses and Other Buildings with Biomass
Scott Sanford, Outreach Specialist – Rural Energy Program, University of Wisconsin
As energy prices increase some people will turn to wood as a way to reduce energy costs instead of implementing efficiency measures. But inefficient wood boilers may cost more to operate than if energy efficiency measures were implemented. This presentation will look at different potential fuel sources (biomass & used oils), as well as types of furnaces and boilers including outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters, pellet or grain fired boilers/furnaces, and stand-alone stoves, and will present a case study of two greenhouses.
Recorded Dec 11, 2012 Link:
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/heating-greenhouses-and-other-buildings-biomass

Energy Efficient Lighting for Agriculture
Scott Sanford, Outreach Specialist – Rural Energy Program, University of Wisconsin
Lighting is considered low hanging fruit for saving energy because the new technologies are 75 percent or more efficient than the standard incandescent light bulb and paybacks are short. Mercury vapor lamps and standard incandescent bulbs are being phased out by 2014. What are the alternatives? There are many and all will reduce energy and maintenance costs, and most will improve the quality of light. This presentation will cover all the types of lighting used in agriculture, including LEDs.
Recorded: Dec 18, 2012 Link: http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/energy-efficient-lighting-agriculture

Energy Efficiency for Animal Housing
Scott Sanford, Outreach Specialist – Rural Energy Program, University of Wisconsin
Rising energy prices and concerns about energy availability are driving livestock and poultry producers and managers to review their energy use and implement energy conservation practices. For economical production livestock and poultry producers must balance feed energy, fossil fuel and electricity costs against product sales, while providing for animal and employee well-being. This webinar will describe key ways to conserve energy while enhancing animal well-being and production.
Recorded Jan 8, 2013 Link: http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/energy-efficiency-animal-housing

Greenhouse Energy Conservation
Scott Sanford, Outreach Specialist – Rural Energy Program, University of Wisconsin
Growers can often reduce energy cost by 30 to 50% by using energy efficient growing practices, tightening the greenhouse enclosure to reduce infiltration losses, replacing inefficient heating systems and installing curtain systems. Topics will include type of structure, glazing materials, types of heat loss, infiltration losses, heating systems, heat distribution, thermal curtains, space efficiency, summer ventilation, supplemental lighting and a brief look at passive solar greenhouse design.
Recorded Jan 15, 2013 Link: http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/greenhouse-energy-conservation

Irrigation Water Management
John Panuska, Ph.D., Natural Resources Ext. Specialist, University of Wisconsin
With the drought of 2012 behind us, it’s time to review irrigation water management and look at how we can better manage water use in the future to get high yields and high quality crops despite the weather. This webinar will cover water needs of different crops, determining how much water your soil can hold, determining how much water plants use on a daily basis, when to irrigate and how much, and tools such as irrigation scheduling programs and soil moisture sensors to help automate record keeping and provide feedback that plants have enough water.
Recorded Jan 29, 2013 Link: http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/irrigation-water-management

Managing Field Cropping to Lower Energy Costs
Mark Hanna, Extension Agricultural Engineer, Iowa State University
Reducing energy use in cropping operations involves good maintenance of equipment, reducing tillage operations, ballasting tractors properly, managing nitrogen and reducing grain drying energy use. The webinar will make the case for using minimum tillage, timely routine tractor maintenance, shorter maturity corn to reduce drying costs and more precise management of nitrogen application.
Recorded Feb 12, 2013 Link:
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/managing-field-cropping-lower-energy-costs

Energy Efficient Grain Drying
Kenneth Hellevang, Extension Engineer/Professor, North Dakota State University
Using energy efficient grain drying methods in the North Central Region has the potential to annually save about 200 million gallons of LP gas and 100 million kWh of electricity, with a value of about $308 million. This is based on a conservative energy efficiency improvement of just 15%. Drying is the second largest energy input into the production of corn grain. The webinar will cover the types of grain dryers, energy conservation features of grain dryers and drying systems, and the expected energy consumption of various dryers and systems.
Recorded Feb 26, 2013 Link: http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/energy-efficient-grain-drying

Energy Efficient Milk Production
Scott Sanford, Outreach Specialist – Rural Energy Program, University of Wisconsin
What is an energy efficient dairy farm? That will be answered along with how to trim energy costs from your dairy’s energy budget to get there. The presentation will cover refrigeration systems, milk cooling, water heating, heat recovery, the use of variable speed drives for vacuum pumps and milk pumps, ventilation and water fountains.
Recorded March 5, 2013 Link: http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/energy-efficient-milk-production

Optimizing Irrigation Efficiency
Scott Sanford, Outreach Specialist – Rural Energy Program, University of Wisconsin
Delivery of irrigation water through farm irrigation systems from ground or surface water sources to the field requires the addition of energy. The amount of energy that must be added is affected by the type of irrigation delivery system, system pressure, elevation difference between the field and the water source, inches of water applied, and the land area being irrigated. This presentation will cover some of the things that can be done to an existing system to reduce energy costs.
Recorded March 19, 2013 Link:
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/optimizing-irrigation-efficiency

ABC’s of Life Cycle Analysis for Dairy Production
Douglas Reinemann, Professor, Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin
Life Cycle Assessment is a method to account for all inputs and outputs for a “system” and is often used to account for energy inputs or greenhouse gas emissions. This webinar will provide an overview of Life Cycle Assessment Methods and why LCA has become a ‘buzzword’ in the sustainability arena. LCA work quantifying the environmental impacts of dairy production systems, including conventional confinement systems in Wisconsin, pasture based dairy systems in Wisconsin and Michigan, and the effects of integrating energy systems (corn Ethanol and bio-gas) with dairy production systems will be summarized.
Recorded March 26, 2013 Link:
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/abc%E2%80%99s-life-cycle-analysis-dairy-production

On-Farm Energy Production from Anaerobic Digestion
Rebecca Larson, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin
This webinar will cover the basic principles, operation, and economics of anaerobic digestion systems in an agricultural setting. Information will also include current limitations and constraints of the technology and areas where there is potential to make significant advances in digestion systems within the United States. Viewers will also be able to see pictures from a number of operating systems to better understand the components and scale of these systems.
Recorded April 16, 2013 Link:
http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/video/farm-energy-production-anaerobic-digestion

Energy Efficiency Curriculum
ENCON1: Introduction to Farm Energy Use
Link: http://blogs.extension.org/encon1/modules/encon1introduction-to-farm-energy-use/

ENCON2: Farm Practices to Improve Energy Efficiency
Link – http://blogs.extension.org/encon1/modules/encon2-farm-practices-to-improve-energy-efficiency/

ENCON3: Resources for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs
Link – http://blogs.extension.org/encon1/modules/unit-3-1-state-local-energy-efficiency-programs/

Printable Versions of ENCON curriculum
http://blogs.extension.org/encon1/resources/

Outcomes and impacts:

Our target was to exposure 120 educator in the NC region to energy related presentations that they could in turn use to educate others. Based on categories that participants selected when registering for the webinars, 134 people from the 12 state NC region registered for at least one webinar. Ninety-two of those people were classified as educators or associated with a university from nine states for an average of 9.2 per state. No educators participated from Indiana, Ohio or South Dakota. Wisconsin had the most participants with 64 of which 41 were classified as educators or associated with a university, 20 were from USDA-NRCS. Therefore we unfortunately didn’t reach our goal of 10 educators from each state or 120 educators. Indiana does have a state energy specialist so they may already have provided ample energy educational programs. I’m not familiar with S. Dakota or Ohio energy education programs.

If all 92 of the educators that registered for the webinars each educated 30 additional people the total impact could be about 2800 people per year that learn something about how to conserve energy for an agricultural enterprise. Since the webinars, presentations and On-farm Energy conservation curriculum are all available on-line and linked to the eXtension website others will find the materials and increase their knowledge of ways to reduce energy use resulting in a multiplying affect.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The first set of webinars was held in May and June of 2011 and had 75 individuals that registered for at least one webinar from 10 states. The average number per webinar was 15 registrants from 8 states with each participant registering for an average or 2.5 webinars. The first set of webinars was restricted to educators and USDA personnel. Seventeen of the registrants were USDA employees, 52 university or extension agents and 6 identified as “Other”. A second set of webinar was held December 2012 through April 2013 with 164 individuals attending at least one webinar representing 31 states and one foreign county. The attendance for the second series averaged 36 with the irrigation water management webinar drawing 64, a timely topic with the summer of 2012 drought. This second set of webinar was advertised nationwide via eXtension.org although predominately in the Midwest and was heavily attended by NRCS personnel (40%). The primary responsibility of the participants included 9 – county-based extension agents, 17 – state specialists, 66 – government (USDA-NRSC personnel), 26 – growers, 11 – energy consultants and 35 who identified as “Other”. Pre and post seminar surveys were used to gauge learning. The participation in the post surveys was lower than the pre-survey which had to be completed in some cases to access the webinar log-in. The first webinar series measured a 93% increase in correct answers between the pre and post surveys while the second series had a 66% increase. The rate of responses to the post survey was 13% versus 79% for the pre-webinar survey. The webinar content / presentation rating averaged 3.4 out of 4 overall.

The total number of individuals that registered for at least one of the 24 webinar in either webinar series was 233 with 156 being county agents, state specialists, regional specialists or NRCS specialists which surpassed the goal of having 120 educators attend although not all are from the NC region and some NC states did not participate. The goal was to have educators that attended the webinars use the materials to educate others. A short survey was emailed out to attendees of the first webinar series to try to measure secondary effects of the webinars. Nine people responded (12%). Two indicated that they would use the information for they own farm or business, five indicated using the information for group meetings or presentations, six indicated using the information for one on one consultation, and three indicated the information was used for related work such as economics of options. The approximate number of people provided information ranged from none to 500 with an average of 64 per respondent. The participants from the second session were not surveyed do to the short duration until the project end.

All of the presentations ( pdf format) and recordings of both webinar series are available at eXtension’s Farm Energy video page (http://farmenergymedia.extension.org/videos ).

Three Coffee Break Workshops were tried during March/April 2012 in Wisconsin on Cropping energy costs, grain drying and lighting but didn’t get any participants. These were offer on-line and in-person in several UW-Extension offices. No participation may have been in part due to the early spring. There were also few farmers that attended the 2012-13 winter series that was open to all and advertised to agricultural media. Although at our respective universities we have great internet access, there are many rural areas that have limited access to internet that is fast enough to stream live video.

During the course of this project, the same collaborators for this project have authored an on-line On-Farm Energy Conservation and Efficiency curriculum in conjunction with the BioEnergy Training Center (http://fyi.uwex.edu/biotrainingcenter/) that supplements the content of the webinars. The combination should provide educators with training and resources to provide training to others.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Grant activities provided presentations, curriculum, and resource materials for educators nationwide to use in preparing and presenting their own energy efficiency programs to farmers, producers and growers.

Future Recommendations

Energy Education needs to be a key part of any educational curriculum because of the implications of energy use for future sustainability of the U.S. and the world. Energy use is directly tied to climate change from human sources so making people aware of the energy implications of daily activities can aid in changing behavior’s to reduce energy use. Energy does not necessarily need to involve stand-alone educational programs but is best woven into programs. So have the notion that saving energy is expensive and results in sacrifices. It can be as simple as being better organized so one only takes one shopping trip per week or replacing a water heater, grain dryer or vacuum pump with a more efficient design. Yes, some energy efficient equipment is more expensive but if we consider the energy and operating costs, they will typically have a lower cost of operation and annual ownership costs and a high return on investment.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.