Climate change and energy have become increasingly pressing issues for the agriculture sector.

In addition to the environmental implications presented by the use of fossil fuels, energy is a significant input cost for producers.

In order for BC’s agriculture sector to remain competitive, it must take a proactive approach to both input costs and environmental issues.

Happily, there’s exciting news on the energy efficiency front!

Phase two of the BC Farm Energy Assessment Pilot finished in August 2011, with results that can potentially benefit agricultural producers across the province.

During this eight month project, 20 agricultural operations across BC were invited to participate in the project and pave the way for other producers to implement energy efficiency measures in the future.

When the energy assessment tool was developed during the first phase, data on key energy efficiency opportunities was collected for a wide variety of commodities.

The energy consumption on 27 BC farms was measured, and assessments were completed to identify different ways these farms could become more energy efficient.

Led by the BC Agriculture Council’s BC Agriculture and Food Climate Action Initiative and funded by the Foundation, this phase focused on the expansion of the assessment tool to a broader range of farm types such as grain, tree fruit, nurseries, grapes and vineyards.

Based on participants’ interest in exploring clean energy technology options for their farms as identified in the first phase, this phase also facilitated high level evaluations of alternatives and provided producers with information on potential options for further exploration.

According to Kamloops dairy farmer Laura Hunter, the assessment was instrumental in guiding a barn renovation on Blackwell Dairy Farms.

The assessment introduced Hunter to a variety of energy saving upgrades she could implement to save on heating and lighting and improve ventilation.

“Updating an older facility can be an extremely daunting process for a farmer,” explains Hunter. “The assessment was helpful in breaking down which options are best for a specific operation and educating participants on the incentives available to producers interested in energy efficiency measures.”

The Farm Energy Assessment tool is now available to producers through the Canada-BC Environmental Farm Plan and Best Management Practices (BMPs) programs, which are currently delivered by Ardcorp.

By capturing and communicating farm energy issues and opportunities and encouraging clean energy technologies, the Farm Energy Assessment tool is helping BC agriculture become more competitive and sustainable by enabling individual producers to save money and incorporate environmentally responsible practices in their businesses.

Funding: $34,629 provided through the federal Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program and $23,300 provided through IAF’s Sustaining Fund. (A0632)