Training in Renewable Energy Systems for Small Farms to Reduce Energy Costs and Improve Profitability

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $78,128.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Grant Recipient: Clemson University
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Geoff Zehnder
Clemson University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: sunflower


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, manure management
  • Crop Production: municipal wastes
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency, energy use, solar energy
  • Farm Business Management: value added, whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting


    South Carolina SARE Program stakeholders, including farmers, have identified a need for training in alternative energy systems that have potential to reduce energy costs and generate value for the farm. The goal of this SARE PDP project was to train agriculture professionals in South Carolina and neighboring states as Energy Educators. In both years of the project specific topics for the farm-energy training were identified based on stakeholder input, a training curriculum was developed, and nine (9) full-day training events were conducted to address perceived challenges to adoption of alternative farm energy systems. Participants rated each training highly in post-training surveys and indicated that their participation will enable them to effectively assist farmers/clients with adoption of renewable farm energy systems and technology.

    Project objectives:

    1. Identify perceived challenges pertaining to adoption of alternative energy systems through farmer surveys and additional stakeholder input.
    2. With cooperating stakeholders and instructors develop and promote a training curriculum and schedule of on-farm classes to demonstrate and evaluate alternative energy systems appropriate for small farms.
    3. Deliver the training curriculum to 1862 and 1890 Extension, NRCS, farmer mentors and other agriculture professionals utilizing farmer-instructors experienced in on-farm energy systems.
    4. Conduct follow-up surveys with training participants to assess their level of satisfaction with the training in order to refine the training curriculum, and to assess whether they are able to use the knowledge and skills gained to effectively assist farmers with implementation of alternative on-farm energy systems.
    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.