Have you ever wondered about what techniques you could utilize to reduce the amount of energy used on your farm?

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may have the answer. A USDA-NRCS initiative to help farmers and ranchers conduct energy audits and improve their overall energy efficiency has been expanded for 2011. The initiative builds on the existing energy audit initiative to also help producers implement the energy conservation and efficiency recommendations that result from an energy audit.

“Providing producers with the opportunity to assess their energy usage and make needed improvements can save money while also benefitting the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Florida NRCS Acting State Conservationist Jeffrey Woods.

On-farm energy audits are tailored to each agricultural operation’s primary energy uses. The audits help producers determine the amount of energy used by the entire operation and also identify short- and long-term measures producers can implement to conserve energy and achieve greater energy efficiencies.  

The On-Farm Energy Audit/Implementation Initiative is offered through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which provides technical and financial assistance for this purpose through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The on-farm energy audits, which are offered as EQIP Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP), must be conducted by certified technical service providers.

Producers who have had an on-farm energy audit conducted that meets or exceeds the criteria of an EQIP Agricultural Energy Management Plan may apply for technical and financial assistance to implement the audit’s recommendations.

The application deadline for FY 2011 funds is Feb. 25, 2011. Interested producers should contact their local NRCS office immediately. To find the nearest office go to http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

Additional information on NRCS and programs available is on the web at http://www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at the local USDA NRCS office.