Integrated Alternative Energy and Livestock Production Systems

2008 Annual Report for ENC07-099

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $50,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Michael Seipel
Hickory Hollow Farm

Integrated Alternative Energy and Livestock Production Systems


This project provides training on alternative energy topics to extension professionals, educators, and agency personnel in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois.

The first annual conference (December 5, 2008) featured 13 speakers addressing grassy biomass, woody biomass, wind energy, financing bioenergy projects, and case studies of bioenergy enterprises.

A second conference (December 4, 2009) will tentatively address grassy biomass, alternative oilseeds for biofuels, anaerobic digestion/methane capture from livestock manure, and algae oil. Short-term outcomes of the project are increased knowledge; intermediate-term outcomes will be presentations and curricular integration; long-term outcomes will be reexamination by agricultural producers of their farming operations and practices.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The short-term outcomes of the training will be:
– increased awareness among participants of the selected topics (woody biomass crops, grass/legume cellulosic biomass feedstocks, wind energy, alternative oilseeds for biofuels, anaerobic digestion/methane capture from livestock manure, and composting of livestock manure/bedding),
– increased knowledge of the applicability of technologies/practices to producers in their service area, improved attitudes toward alternative energy technologies, and
– increased skill/ability to deliver information on alternative energy to clients using acquired resources and knowledge.

The project goal is that 85 percent of workshop participants in each year will show a gain in awareness, knowledge, and confidence in their skill/ability to deliver bioenergy program information, as measured by an increase in their confidence score on at least 50 percent of the knowledge survey items from pre-workshop to post-workshop.

Intermediate-term outcomes will be program presentations, client consultations, and curricular integration of information on alternative energy by participants. The intermediate outcome goal is that 85 percent of workshop participants (year one) will have conducted at least one outreach program (field day, presentation, etc.) or developed and presented one curricular unit in an instructional setting by December 1, 2009. Returning participants attending the 2009 workshop will provide a short report on the success of their programming. New participants to the 2009 workshop will also be required to have conducted one or more outreach programs by March 31, 2010, with a follow up survey to determine the success of these programs.

The ultimate long-term project goal is farms contributing to agricultural and energy sustainability by conserving energy, contributing to generation of non-biomass renewable energy, participating in production of biofuel feedstocks that offer a higher net energy yield than corn-ethanol, and capturing a significant share of the profits from these energy generation efforts. True evaluation of such outcomes is beyond the scope of this project. Therefore, the long-term outcome goal for the project will be farmers, ranchers, and landowners who have received information on new techniques or practices covered in project workshops and evaluated these techniques/practices (whether adopted or only considered) in light of their impact on the economic, ecological, and social (quality of life) sustainability of their operation.



A one day-long conference, addressing the topics grassy biomass, woody biomass, wind energy, financing bioenergy projects, and case studies of bioenergy enterprises was held on December 5, 2008 in Kirksville, MO. Attendees had an opportunity to hear and interact with 13 presenters in a combination of plenary and breakout sessions. In addition, attendees were able to witness a demonstration of a “biotruck”, converted to run on syn-gas produced on board via combustion of biomass, and to visit with the farmer-inventor of the truck. Pre-registration for the conference was 112 persons. Actual conference attendance was 105 of those pre-registered plus another 40 undergraduate students and local community members who sat in on one or more of the plenary presentations.

Attendees received a binder of resource materials on the day of the conference. Attendees are also receiving a CD containing pdf versions of speaker presentation slides (being mailed out early March 2009) and a DVD containing interviews with each of the presenters, highlighting key elements of their presentations. These two items will be submitted to SARE along with the appropriate information product form.

A website ( was created to publicize the 2008 conference and organize resource materials. The infrastructure of the website as well as past attendee familiarity with it will be useful in promoting the 2009 conference.

Remaining work

The planning committee is currently working to finalize topics and identify speakers for the 2009 conference. Once the program is set, the committee will need to publicize the conference to the target audience.

The DVD with presenter interviews is in final production and will be sent to attendees when complete.

The planning committee needs to follow up with those attendees who received a travel scholarship from SARE grant funds and secure information from them needed to assess attainment of the proposal’s intermediate outcome goal (that 85 percent of participants will have presented one program or curricular unit utilizing conference bioenergy information by December 1, 2009).

The planning committee needs to collect from conference attendees the names of farmers and ranchers who have participated in programming/teaching offered by workshop participants in order to assess long-term project outcomes. In February 2010, workshop participants (from year one and year two) will be asked to identify individuals from their clientele who participated in and potentially have been positively impacted by training, consultation, or classroom teaching on bioenergy topics. They will also provide contact information for these individuals. Selected individuals from the names submitted will be contacted for interviews on how they have utilized the information gained from the program or class they attended and what factors will influence their decision to incorporate a bioenergy production or energy conservation technology into their farming/ranching operation.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The grant proposal for this project stated that process and implementation indicators would be assessed in part via a program evaluation survey instrument administered to conference attendees. By this measure for the year one conference, the project has been successful in fulfillment of this process outcome. Attendees gave strong favorable ratings to the speakers, resource materials, and overall quality and organization of the conference.

Positive impact is also reflected by the number and range of people who were reached with the year one conference. Per the grant budget, 40 travel scholarships ($200 each) were awarded to qualified members of the target audience to attend the conference. (Seven scholarship recipients had to cancel at the last minute; these travel scholarships will be carried over and used in year two.) Because of high demand for the conference, we also made available an option to register for the conference for a $50 fee, to cover meals, refreshments, and resource materials. Pre-registration data (including scholarship recipients) indicates that attendees at the conference were from the target audience.

Short-term knowledge gain outcomes were assessed via a pre- and post-test knowledge survey completed by conference attendees. Participating attendees completed a 35-question knowledge survey, in which they rated their confidence (1=not confident, 2=somewhat confident, 3=confident) in their ability to answer a question or provide accurate information about specific bioenergy topics. The distribution of responses by confidence rating was compared for pre- and post-conference responses and the null hypothesis of no difference in pre-/post- confidence was assessed using the chi-square test. The comparison showed a difference in the distribution of confidence ratings, which was statistically significant, for all 35 knowledge survey items (in all cases the post-conference responses had a higher relative frequency of responses in the “confident” category).

Program resource materials have been (resource notebook) or will be (CD with presentations, DVD with interviews) disseminated to extension professionals, high school and college agricultural educators, and natural resource agency personnel from a three-state area and thus are already having a positive impact by making these educators better informed on bioenergy topics as they interact with clients and students.

Comments from the program evaluation survey indicate that these resources will have a positive impact.

For example:
“Good information to take back to the school where I teach! Speakers were well prepared and very organized. Binder with info will be very helpful for future teaching lessons. Much info I can use with high schoolers!”

“Great speakers, great meal. I have been to 4 bioenergy meetings this year (one a national meeting) and this was the best.”

“This was a very interesting and educational day. As a complete novice, my brain feels a little over loaded; your notebook and upcoming CD offer the chance to review and to learn more. Very well organized and run. This greatly expanded my eyes to a whole different world! Well done, I like the mix of topics and viewpoints. I compliment you on this conference.”


Ken Berry

[email protected]
Northeast Missouri RC&D
Rt 3 Box 56
Edina, MO 63537
Office Phone: 66039722234
Charlene Boyes

[email protected]
Executive Director
Missouri Rural Enterprise and Innovation Center
201 S. Franklin
Kirksville, MO 63501
Office Phone: 6606271224
Bruce Lane

[email protected]
Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
503 Northtown Road
Kirksville, MO 63501
Office Phone: 6606659866
Darla Campbell

[email protected]
Agri-Business Specialist
University of Missouri Extension
PO Box 310
Lancaster, MO 63548
Office Phone: 6604573469