Explore on-farm energy generation as an income stream

"If you're not at the table, you're going to be on the menu," said a participant in a Transatlantic Dialogue on generating power from farms. You don't need to go overseas to explore possible energy-related revenue opportunities here at home.

Explore _farm _energy _generation _income _stream _1_636441002674484734Illinois farmers that traveled to Germany in 2015 had an opportunity to see examples of on-farm energy generation, including construction of this foundation for a wind turbine. (Photo by Mike Orso)

By Mike Orso

You might not have an oilfield beneath the back 40, but you still may have the resources that could earn you an income stream by generating energy from your farm.

Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) members have an opportunity to explore those opportunities on Oct. 31 as part of a Rural Energy Roundtable, 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at IFB headquarters in Bloomington.

Illinois will host the first of two roundtable sessions taking place in the United States with farmers from Germany. Another will occur in Minnesota two days later.

Related: An energy crop to consider adding to your rotation. Click here

The upcoming event has resulted in part from an IFB partnership with the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC) Midwest, based in Chicago. A group of Illinois farmers visited the country two years ago to examine how their German counterparts deal with nutrient management. During the trip, they also found ways German farmers generate revenue by helping contribute to the country’s goal of becoming more energy self-sufficient. Some Illinois and Minnesota officials found the same when they visited Germany last summer as part of the GACC’s Energy Dialogue program.

“They sit down and say, ‘I think this is the direction we ought to go,’ and they are going that direction, full-bore,” said David Frederickson, Minnesota commissioner of agriculture who participated in an energy policy seminar last summer in Berlin. “In our country, we tend to want to study it a little bit more. But, we’re going to get there.”

Anaerobic digesters and wind turbines have been part of some Illinois farms for several years. Recently, several solar energy companies have been active in Illinois offering cash in exchange for use of their land.

Related: IFB held a dozen meetings across Illinois earlier this year to explain solar agreements with companies seeking to place solar panels on farms. Find out more at this link.

“Farmers are creative and innovative,” said Frederickson, who farmed in the western part of his state. “If they get a sense of what is possible, you’ll see them come together and work out the structure that is going to be beneficial to the community but also beneficial to those landowners.”

Featured speakers at the upcoming Illinois roundtable include German hog and crop farmer Jochen Oestmann. Also presenting will be Pearl City farmer Doug Block, who installed an anaerobic digester on his farm, and Eric Rund of Pesotum, who grows Miscanthus to generate power and operates Green Flame Energy.

An Octoberfest lunch will be provided to those IFB members that participate. You can register at this link.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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