Energy - Small Farm Sustainability

2002 Annual Report for LNE02-163

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $88,548.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $43,941.00
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Nancy Nylen
CET (Center for Ecological Technology)

Energy - Small Farm Sustainability


The Energy & Small Farm Sustainability project will help implement energy conservation and renewable energy projects for farms in Berkshire region of Massachusetts. We will:

1) assist farmers in identifying and implementing cost-effective opportunities to save money, conserve energy, and increase production;

2) develop a protocol to assess farms for potential renewable energy development;

3) identify strategies to implement renewable energy technologies, including financing. Farm tours will highlight how efficiency and renewable energy can increase farmers’ profitability.

Our target is dairy farms and orchards, but if resources allow, we will serve other farmers.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. Of the 56 dairy farms and 16 orchards in the Berkshire area, 25 farms will have an energy efficiency assessment.

    After receiving an energy assessment, 25 farmers will install efficiency improvements with a one-year payback; five to ten farmers will make significant energy efficiency improvements and three to five farms will participate in a renewable energy resource assessment, which may require additional monitoring (e.g. wind capacity or sun power).

    Of those who are evaluated for renewable resource potential, one to three farms will install small-scale renewable demonstration projects.


CET developed an energy assessment tool for dairies/orchards, a set of information sheets on technologies, and a protocol for inventorying a farm’s renewable resources. A well-attended farm tour was held in November. Two farm tours are planned for Spring 2003 and a methane digestion workshop will take place in February. Four farms are considering variable frequency drives, a significant efficiency improvement. Partnerships with the two utility companies have brought utility staff to the farms for further efficiency assessments. Farms are interested in efficiency improvements and renewable technologies, but cost remains a significant barrier. We continue to research funding opportunities to provide small capitalization for these improvements.

Specific farm-by-farm progress by CET, in partnership with utility companies, is detailed by farm.

High Lawn Farm received an intensive energy efficiency assessment and a comprehensive renewable energy assessment that identified small-scale hydropower with a solar powered pump as potentially cost-effective. A methane developer examined the feasibility of a digester. Currently, costs are prohibitive. Scribnerbrook Farm installed 25 23watt compact fluorescent bulbs in the barn, saving $515 in a year.

Pine Island Farm: The utility will look at incentives for installation of new, energy efficient lighting. Pine Island is interested in methane digestion, once they move to a new site, so CET will monitor how to be helpful over time.

Gould Farm: Follow-up will include utility examination of entire operation with efficiency recommendations. Gould Farm could host a photovoltaic installation through another CET program.

Broadlawn Farm: CET and the utility installed an Energy Star refrigerator in the milk house with a one-year payback. Broadlawn installed attic and wall insulation with an estimated savings of over $2,000 annually using utility incentives.

Shaw Farm: The utility is following up on installing a variable frequency drive and efficient lighting.

Turner Farm: The utility is following up on the installation of a variable frequency drive.

Ioka Farm: The utility fixed an outstanding problem with defective lighting and will determine the appropriate next steps.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The Farm Service Agency distributed a program announcement about the first “Greening the Farm” tour as farmers collected “milk money,” so over 40 dairy farmers read an announcement. Eighteen dairy farmers and seven agricultural service providers learned about multiple conservation improvements. We conducted eight energy assessments, one comprehensive renewable energy evaluation, and oversaw the installation of one significant efficiency improvement. One set of efficient lightbulbs were installed with less than a year payback.


Cathy Roth
UMass Extension
P.O. Box 296
Middlefield, MA 01243
Office Phone: 4136236053
Nick Hiza
Atlas Renewables Incorporated (wind)
P. O. Box 64
Williamstown, MA 01267
Office Phone: 4135974644
Ruth Dinerman
Communications Director
Center for Ecological Technology
112 Elm Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Office Phone: 4134454556
David Knowles
Energy Specialist
Center for Ecological Technology
112 Elm Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Office Phone: 4134454556
Amy Johns
AmeriCorps*VISTA/Energy Specialist
Center for Ecological Technology
112 Elm Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Office Phone: 4134454556
Chris Vreeland
Precision Engineering Services (solar)
P.O. Box 746
Otis, MA 01253
Office Phone: 4132694965
Richard Drury
RCS Energy Services (efficiency)
P.O. Box 433
Leverett, MA 01054
Office Phone: 4133679683