Efficiency Vermont Incentives for Agriculture

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Are you considering any equipment upgrades in the near future.  Check Efficiency Vermont’s webpage to research available technologies and to see if any of their many incentives apply to you. They have a set of rebates specific to agriculture and some for commercial refrigeration which may apply to folks with refrigerated storage on their farm.  Been thinking about an outside air economizer to take advantage of the chilly winter air in your walk-in?  Check out the rebates.  They even have some programs focused on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems which may apply to greenhouse heating with a pellet furnace or boiler. Want to learn more about Efficiency Vermont, including where the money comes from? Read on…

USDA Handbook 66 – Fruit, Berry and Vegetable Storage Guide

USDA Handbook 66The USDA regularly produces its Agricultural Handbook 66 – “The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks” to help guide long term storage of these products. The handbook is dense with info on optimal storage conditions for everything from Jerusalem Artichokes to Watercress. Each crop is given a brief overview which summarizes the expected loss when stored at certain conditions and also a summary of respiration rates to help with the sizing of any refrigeration that may be needed.

Many Vermont growers are probably familiar with the green book from 1986.  But did you know that a newer version is available online?  I was surprised to see how much the online version had that the printed version did not and (believe it or not) some recommendations have changed.  As you are putting things in storage for winter markets and other outlets, consider reviewing the revised Handbook 66 online. You may be surprised by what you find.

 

Food Storage Survey

I’m collecting information on Vermont’s commercial food storage practices.  This is most commonly a walk-in cooler or freezer on the farm or at a food hub, but there is room in the survey to tell me all about the other ways you store food.  The purpose of the survey is to provide a baseline against which to assess future growth and improvement, but also to determine where the need for more work and research is.

Please take 5 minutes to offer your perspectives by Wednesday, November 7, and spread the word.

Survey Link: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e6ljmhoah94m2gdr/start

Food System Energy Use

Thanks to Eric Garza (UVM RSENR) for putting me onto this dense and fascinating report that summarizes the energy use in our food system. I was surprised to learn the per capita energy use in our food system increased significantly from 1997 to 2002.

From the report;

“Energy is an important input in growing, processing, packaging, distributing, storing, preparing, serving, and disposing of food. Analysis using the two most recent U.S. benchmark input-output accounts and a national energy data system shows that in the United States, use of energy along the food chain for food purchases by or for U.S. households increased between 1997 and 2002 at more than six times the rate of increase in total domestic energy use.


The use of more energy-intensive technologies throughout the U.S. food system accounted for half of this increase, with the remainder attributed to population growth and higher real (inflation-adjusted) per capita food expenditures.”

The Start of Something New

As you may know, UVM Extension has initiated an Agricultural Engineering program and I am so pleased to have been selected to lead it. My job is to conduct research, technology development & transfer, applied engineering, education and outreach to support the development and enhancement of Vermont’s small-scale food and agricultural systems.

I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to support Vermont’s food systems and to continue working with farmers and other agricultural professionals throughout the state and beyond.

Some of the specific areas I expect to focus on initially include greenhouse energy efficiency, renewable fuels, post-harvest fruit and vegetable processing, enhanced refrigeration, and application of control technologies to food production. But I am very interested in hearing what technical challenges you think are most critical to you. If you have a moment, please send me your thoughts on where you think the most significant technical challenges are in your operation. My complete contact information is provided on the left hand side of this site.

The right hand side of the site includes links to some of my favorite references and calculators which may be useful for you as well. If you run into problems with any of them or have additional questions, let me know. Or if you have ideas for references or links that I should include, let me know that as well.