Director of Agricultural Technical Assistance, Department of Agricultural Resources
It is pretty remarkable how much interest the agricultural sector has in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. When we first launched our Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program back in 1999, the focus was on protecting water quality by providing funding to farmers to fence animals out of rivers and streams. Over the years, as our understanding of the linkage between energy and water resource protection evolved, so too did our attention to funding renewable energy projects on farms.
From our first solar powered irrigation pump on a farm on Cape Cod, the program has since helped install PVs and Wind Turbines on multiple farms. The most popular type of project funded over the past few years is the automated irrigation system on cranberry bogs. This simple, elegant, clever system integrates renewable energy with energy conservation and efficient water management. Using solar powered computers to manage the operation of irrigation pumps by monitoring moisture levels and temperature, the system reduces fuel use and ensures more efficient application of irrigation water.
The Department of Agricultural Resources recently added an Ag-Energy grant to its portfolio of funding programs. With the largest amount of funding to date of $475,000 in tow, our Renewable Energy Specialist and Energy Smarts blogger Gerry Palano is heading out on the road with some of his colleagues over the next few weeks to present the details of this grant program to farmers. Farmers are eligible to apply for up to $30,000 for energy efficiency or renewable energy systems on their farms. Next dates for the MDAR grants road show, which will include information about our new grant program for beginning farmers, are:
Wednesday May 12, 6 PM Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Weiss Conference Center, Room 102, 75 North Drive, Westborough; Directions: http://www.masstech.org/AgencyOverview/Directions.htm
Thursday, May 20, 2010 6 PM UMass Cranberry Station, 1 State Bog Road, Wareham
If you can't attend but still want to learn more about these programs, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/programs/index.htm