Take a drive in the country and you may find giant monolithic wind turbines scattered throughout farm fields churning in the wind. These turbines capture the energy from the wind by rotating the blades, which is then able to be transformed into electrical energy.
While wind power seems to be gaining popularity lately, it was actually really prevalent among farmers back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Farmers harness wind power in order to pump water to their field and generate power for their homestead. Electricity eventually took over, but with rising costs and environmental awareness, renewable energy sources are making a comeback.
While there are some disadvantages to wind power: high starting cost, possible eye sore, and the fact that wind is controlled by Mother Nature, which means it does what it wants. However, there are several advantages, especially to farmers, for looking into wind energy.
Farmers have the landscape naturally built into their operation. Flat, wide open spaces are best for wind collecting. Research should be done to make sure your location is in an area that makes putting wind turbines in beneficial. There are wind resource maps available on the USDAs website to see if you are in a good location.
Large wind turbines usually span less than half an acre of land. This includes the actual unit itself, as well as access roads to get to it for maintenance. Farmers are still able to have large rolling fields surrounding the turbines. The units themselves require minimal maintenance and operating costs.
You can choose between stand-alone turbines, which would just create energy for your own operation, and a turbine connected to the electrical grid. If you have a stand-alone turbine, you can supplement electricity on your operation, perhaps reducing the need of diesel generators, or lowering your electrical bill. If you are fortunate enough to have excess electricity, you could get paid by the electric company to send it back onto the grid.
Connecting to the grid would make the most sense if you were letting a developer install on your land and leasing the turbine. You will be paid regular royalty fees for housing the unit, which can stabilize cash flow. Plus, you can receive tax credits for utilizing wind technology.
“Farming the Sky.” Modernag.org
“Farming the Wind: Wind Power and Agriculture (2003).” Union of Concerned Scientists
Huttes, Celeste. “Farming With the Power of Renewable Energy.” Successful Farming
“Wind Energy Profile.” AGMCR.org