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National On-Farm Energy

Overview

The On-Farm Energy Initiative can help farmers and ranchers make voluntary improvements that can boost energy efficiency on the farm.  This emerging agricultural trend produces benefits, including reduced input costs, increased productivity per unit of energy consumed by equipment and lighting, and reduced air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions caused when energy is generated for agricultural use.

Financial assistance is available to inventory and analyze farm systems that use energy and identify opportunities to improve efficiency through the development of an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP). The AgEMP, or energy audit, is completed by NRCS-certified Technical Service Providers (TSPs) and provides:

  • Itemized energy use by individual systems to establish a baseline for electricity and other fuel improvements,
  • Recommendations for equipment improvements and upgrades,
  • Potential energy reductions and financial savings for each recommendation,
  • Cost estimates of potential improvements; and,
  • Length of expected payback for energy efficiency upgrades.

Once an AgEMP or other qualifying energy audit has been completed, eligible producers can apply for EQIP assistance for the purchase, installation, or retrofit of certain buildings or equipment to improve energy efficiency.

Examples of items eligible for energy efficiency improvements include:

  • Lighting
  • Plate coolers
  • Ventilation and fans
  • Irrigation pumps
  • Grain dryers
  • Greenhouse improvements
  • Maple syrup evaporators
  • Heating and refrigeration units
  • Insulation and building envelope sealing
  • Motor controls and variable speed drive

The following sections include the applicable land uses, resource concerns, and conservation practices for the ranking pool.

Land Uses

The descriptions below are the general NRCS land use definitions - applications should fit within, but do not need to exactly match, these descriptions. Below are the applicable land uses for the ranking pool.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Range: Land used primarily for the production of grazing animals. Includes native plant communities and those seeded to native or introduced species, or naturalized by introduced species that are ecologically managed using range management principles.
  • Pasture: Land composed of introduced or domesticated native forage species that is used primarily for the production of livestock. Pastures receive periodic renovation and cultural treatments, such as tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control, and may be irrigated. Pastures are not in rotation with crops.
  • Farmstead: Land used for facilities and supporting infrastructure where farming, forestry, animal husbandry, and ranching activities are often initiated. This may include dwellings, equipment storage, plus farm input and output storage and handling facilities.
  • Associated Agricultural Lands: Land associated with farms and ranches that are not purposefully managed for food, forage, or fiber and are typically associated with nearby production or conservation lands. This could include incidental areas, such as odd areas, ditches and watercourses, riparian areas, field edges, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and other similar areas.

Resource Concerns

The goal of conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations (SWAPAE+H).  Below is a list of priority resource concerns for the ranking pool.

SWAPAE+H
Resource Concern Category
Resource Concern
Soil
Soil Quality Limitation
Aggregate instability
Compaction
Concentration of salts or other chemicals
Organic matter depletion
Soil organism habitat loss or degradation
Subsidence
Wind and Water Erosion
Sheet and rill erosion
Wind erosion
Water
Field, Sediment, Nutrient, and Pathogen Loss
Nutrients transported to groundwater
Nutrients transported to surface water
Pathogens and chemicals from manure biosolids, or compost applications transported to groundwater
Pathogens and chemicals from manure biosolids, or compost applications transported to surface water
Sediment transported to surface water
Field Pesticide Loss
Pesticides transported to groundwater
Pesticides transported to surface water
Source Water Depletion
Groundwater depletion
Inefficient irrigation water use
Surface water depletion
Storage and Handling of Pollutants
Nutrients transported to groundwater
Nutrients transported to surface water
Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to groundwater
Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to surface water
Weather Resilience
Drifted snow
Naturally available moisture use
Ponding and flooding
Seasonal high water table
Seeps
Air
Air Quality Emissions
Emissions of airborne reactive nitrogen
Emissions of greenhouse gases - GHGs
Emissions of ozone precursors
Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors
Objectionable odor
Plants
Degraded Plant Condition
Plant productivity and health
Plant structure and composition
Pest Pressure
Plant pest pressure
Animals
Aquatic Habitat
Aquatic habitat for fish and other organisms
Elevated water temperature
Terrestrial Habitat
Terrestrial habitat for wildlife and invertebrates
Energy
Inefficient Energy Use
Energy efficient equipment and facilities
Energy efficient farming/ranching practices and field operations

Conservation Practices

NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through this ranking pool are listed in the below table. For more information about NRCS conservation practices visit the following website link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/?cid=NRCSDEV11_001020.

Table 1. Core Conservation Practices

Practice Code
Conservation Practice Name
Units
Lifespan
128
Agricultural Energy Management Plan
no
1
136 Agricultural Energy Design Plan no 1
374
Farmstead Energy Improvement
no
10
449
Irrigation Water Management
ac
1
533
Pumping Plant
no
15
670
Lighting System Improvement
no
10
672
Building Envelope Improvement
no
10

Table 2. Supporting Conservation Practices

Practice Code
Conservation Practice Name
Units
Lifespan
328
Conservation Crop Rotation
ac
1
329
Residue and Tillage Management, No-Till
ac
1
340
Cover Crop
ac
1
345
Residue and Tillage Management, Reduced Till
ac
1
380
Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment
ft
15
650
Windbreak/Shelterbelt Renovation
ft
15

Interested Applicants

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation. 

Visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/ to find the NRCS representative for your county.