Integrated Alternative Energy and Livestock Production Systems

2009 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) addressed alternative oilseeds for biofuels, anaerobic digestion/methane capture from livestock manure, algae for biofuel, biomass feedstocks handling, and bioenergy policy, with 12 presenters and 6 additional demonstrations or exhibits. 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
• 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 who received a scholarship to participate will conduct at least one outreach program (field day, presentation, etc.) or develop and present one curricular unit in an instructional setting within one year of attending the conference.

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.


Accomplishments/Milestones (Feb. 28, 2009 – Feb. 28, 2010)

• In March 2009, a CD containing slides of all speaker presentations from the 2008 conference was mailed to conference attendees.
• In April, 2009, DVD’s containing the keynote presentation from the 2008 conference as well as interviews with each of the 2008 presenters was mailed to those who attended to 2008 conference.
• A day-long conference, addressing the topics of alternative oilseeds for biofuels, anaerobic digestion/methane capture from livestock manure, algae for biofuels, biomass feedstocks handling, and bioenergy policy, was held on December 4, 2009 in Kirksville, MO. Attendees had an opportunity to hear and interact with 12 presenters in a combination of plenary and breakout sessions. In addition, attendees viewed exhibits at the Truman State University Farm, including a mobile biofuels laboratory from Richland Community College in Decatur, IL, a carbon sequestration pilot study at the University Farm, a small-scale waste-vegetable oil to biodiesel conversion project, a poster on the impact of alternative energy crops on wildlife habitat, homestead-scale renewable energy options, and question/answer with a Missouri farmer who had experience producing alternative oilseeds (primarily sunflowers). Pre-registration for the conference was 60 persons. Actual conference attendance was 72 regular registrants plus another 31 undergraduate students and local community members who sat in on one or more of the plenary presentations. A copy of the conference program is attached.
• Attendees received a binder of resource materials on the day of the conference that included photocopies of and a CD containing pdf versions of speaker presentation slides. A DVD containing interviews with each of the presenters, highlighting key elements of their presentations, will be mailed. These two items will be submitted to SARE along with the appropriate information product form.
• A website ( created to publicize the conferences remains active with conference programs, speaker biographies, and resource links.
Remaining work
• The 2009 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 present one program or curricular unit utilizing conference bioenergy information).
• As part of that survey, the planning committee will also ask attendees to report clients or students of theirs that have considered or implemented bioenergy technologies or energy conservation strategies in their farms or businesses. The examples and descriptions provided will be used as a partial assessment of the long-term outcomes of this project. If specific individuals and examples are provided, follow-up contacts with these farmers and ranchers will be made as needed to learn more about their consideration of bioenergy technologies and what if any information from these conferences helped them in their decision-making process.
• The survey will also ask if attendees have utilized the resource materials (such as printed resource materials, speaker PowerPoint slides, and the speaker interviews DVD) in their programming as a way to evaluate the efficacy of the approach and expenditure of funds in future projects.

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 2009 conference, as for 2008, 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 (program evaluation summary is attached).
• Positive impact is also reflected by the number and range of people who were reached with the year two conference. Per the grant budget, and utilizing remaining scholarship funds from year 1, 43 travel scholarships ($200 each) were awarded to qualified members of the target audience to attend the conference. 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. 62.9% percent of pre-registrants were from the groups identified as a target audience (extension, ag educators, agency personnel).
• Short-term knowledge gain outcomes were assessed via a pre- and post-test knowledge survey completed by conference attendees. Participating attendees completed a 42-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 42 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 and CD with presentations) or will be (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 from the 2009 conference indicate that these resources will have a positive impact. For example, when asked about the best features of the conference, attendees responded with comments such as these:
o “Having speakers that bridge academic theory into possible future applications that must be cost effective.”
o “The best feature of the conference was the excellent, well-informed presenters. Each presenter was very impressive.”
o “Timely info, not opinionated corporate tactics.”


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