Are you looking for ways to cut on-farm energy costs or ways to generate more energy from alternative sources? Francis and Susan Thicke operate Radiance Dairy near Fairfield and have installed a suite of renewable energy systems to help them lower their farm energy costs.
They invite farmers and the public to learn about their quest to become more energy independent at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Saturday, September 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. at their farm, located at 1745 Brookville Rd., about 5 miles northwest of Fairfield. The event – "Harvesting Energy: Wind and Solar Power" – is free and open to everyone.
Attendees will get to explore how Radiance Dairy harvests alternative energy, which is created or captured on the farm with a 40 kilowatt wind turbine, solar-thermal hot water heater, solar-powered pumping system for livestock watering and geothermal heating and cooling system. By grazing their cows, the Thickes also save energy because the cows harvest their own forage.
Energy self-sufficiency on a farm is a combination of several systems; their newest addition is a wind turbine
"Renewable energy will become increasingly important as energy costs continue to escalate in the future," Francis says. "That's one reason I wanted to start now, to get things in place as energy costs go up. I wanted to try various things and make them pay for themselves. Energy self-sufficiency on the farm is a combination of a variety of systems that contribute to the whole."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
He adds that having a diverse mix of on-farm energy systems is one aspect that is appealing. "I like the idea that with alternative energy, a variety of systems can be used together to address on-farm energy needs. I'm not dependent on just one system."
Because the wind turbine is the Thickes' newest addition, they will discuss planning, installing and operating a wind turbine. Additional speakers will include Rich Schuler, PFI Energy program consultant, and Troy Van Beek, president and renewable energy expert with Ideal Energy. Guests will also get to tour the farm's 60-paddock grazing system and on-farm dairy processing facilities, and have a chance to generate their own energy with PFI's Energy Generation and Conservation demonstration.
Radiance Dairy is a 450-acre, 80-cow organic and grass-based dairy in which the milk produced is processed on the farm into bottled milk, yogurt and cheese and marketed locally.
Directions from Fairfield: Go west on Burlington Avenue and turn right (north) onto Brookville Road / County Road H33. Note that road construction on Brookville Road will require you to follow detour signs for several miles. After you turn back onto Brookville Road (it will be a right turn), go another half-mile to Radiance Dairy on the right side of the road. You'll see the 120-foot-tall wind turbine.
From the west on U.S. 34: Turn left (north) onto Packwood Road (also Co Rd V63) at mile marker 207. Go 3 miles and turn right (east) onto Brookville Road / Co Rd H33 and go 3 miles to Radiance Dairy on your left (look for the 120-foot-tall wind turbine).