North Carolina farmers and consumers struggle with high energy costs and oil prices that are at all-time highs. The additional costs are reflected in higher costs for transportation and equipment usage, storage and processing, more costly propane for crop drying, and increased fertilizer costs.

2009internorientation01The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is working to identify ways farmers can reduce economic and environmental costs related to energy.

In partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), CEFS presented daylong “Fueling the Farm” workshops in 2007 and 2008. At the 2008 workshop, “Fueling the Farm II: Managing Energy Risks, Reducing Energy Cost and Exploring Alternative Energy Sources,” participants chose from a variety of breakout sessions including hands-on construction of a four-panel solar heating system for supplemental greenhouse heat. Participants also learned about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency grants and loans.

The keynote address was delivered by Larry Shirley, Director of the North Carolina State Energy Office. Dr. Christopher Galik, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy, Duke University, delivered the plenary address on carbon credits. Some of the workshop topics included presentations from the N.C. Solar Center based at N.C. State University, UNC-Pembroke, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Major funding for this workshop was provided by USDA Risk Management Agency, through a cooperative partnership agreement with the National Center for Appropriate Technology, as part of a project called “Managing Farm Energy Risks.” Funding for this and all CEFS Seasons of Sustainable Agriculture Workshop Series programs is provided in part by N.C. Cooperative Extension.


The day after the 2008 workshop, Matt Rudolf of Piedmont Biofuels presented a workshop titled, “Biofuels 101: Hands-on Demonstration of Biofuel Production.” Topics covered and demonstrated included equipment set-up and design, materials and supplies, titration, running the reaction, washing, drying, testing, and final product evaluation. The workshop also demonstrated a small oilseed press and outlined the steps necessary to produce biodiesel from an oilseed crop.

Grant-Funded Projects

Promoting on-farm energy efficiency. Subcontract to National Center for Appropriate Technology for a USDA Risk Management Agency grant. 2007. Steve Moore. NCSU share $8,000.