How Farmers Can Slash Costs and Stop Using Propane
See two city slickers launch and run their own organic farm and business on The Fabulous Beekman Boys.
Corn kernels are saving University of Missouri farmer Tim Reinbott $1,000 to $2,000 per year in utility costs, and are eliminating the need for propane to keep one of his greenhouses warm. Fifty-gallon rainwater barrels save him all nighttime heating costs for another greenhouse—which supports several tropical plants—and wood pallets that would otherwise be discarded are used to heat the farm's administrative building, again saving thousands of dollars in fuel costs.
The corn kernels are burned for fuel in a special burner, as are the wood pallets, and the water barrels are placed along the back wall of the greenhouse to absorb the sun's rays, even in the winter. The water is heated by the sun during the day and then at night, releases that heat into the greenhouse—enough to keep the inside temperature from ever going below freezing even in the harsh Missouri winter.
Reinbott, who also installed underground pipes that utilize geothermal heat to keep the temperature of the barn stabilized, estimates that these projects together save Bradford Farm about $13,000 in propane costs every year.
Small-scale farmers can benefit, too The point of the research is not to target just the commercial farmer—the MU press release quotes Reinbott saying, "All of the strategies we are using can be done on a small or large scale. We want the homeowner to be able to take what we have done and use it in their backyards."
And that's not just talk: the center offered free workshops this month for livestock owners and native plant enthusiasts in the area.
Reinbott believes that farmers taking advantage of green technology can use that as a marketing advantage: "Producing food while sustaining the environment will become increasingly more important," Reinbott said. "Being