USDA: Wind, Solar & Methane Hits on the Farm

John Davis

Solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters are big hits on American farms and ranches, that according to a new survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The 2009 On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey, the first-ever nationwide survey that looked at renewable energy practices on America’s farms and ranches, shows that these types of energy sources have increased significantly over the last 10 years, with 8,569 operations making renewable energy across the country:

“These results indicate that farmers and ranchers are increasingly adopting renewable energy practices on their operations and reaping the important economic and environmental benefits,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA we are committed to natural resource conservation, prosperity and energy independence in rural America. This survey gives us a benchmark against which we can measure our future successes.”

According to the survey results, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy. In 2009, farmers on 7,968 operations nationwide reported using photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. The use of wind turbines was reported by farmers on 1,420 operations across 48 states. The use of methane digesters was reported by 121 operations in 29 states.

On the state level, California leads the nation with 1,956 operations producing renewable energy, accounting for nearly a quarter of all operations in the United States participating in this practice. Texas, Hawaii and Colorado were the other major states where farmers on at least 500 or more operations were producing their own renewable energy.

The survey goes on to show that farmers in nearly every state were able to save money by using their own, homegrown, renewable energy. More information is available here.

Solar, USDA, Wind