STATEWIDE — The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Juan Hernandez, has announced that Maine Rural Partners, located in Orono, will receive $40,000 to carry out a heat pump demonstration project.
These funds will be awarded through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG), a component of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This is as a result of a statewide competitive grants process to address some of the state’s most pressing natural resource conservation needs.
The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS technical manuals or guides, or to the private sector.
Through this grant, Maine Rural Partners will demonstrate and evaluate an Air-to-air Ductless Heat Pump in an agricultural-based application. The demonstration project will be established in Aroostook County in the retail farm store and processing facility of Micmac Farms and Trading Company, owned by the Aroostook Band of Micmacs.
Air-to-air heat pumps have been used for some time in more southern climates and other countries. Only recently has the technology improved to become effective in colder climates, with current units theoretically capable of recovering air-based heat at outdoor temperatures as low as 15 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. By selecting a northern Maine demonstration site, all of Maine’s farms will know one way or the other if this technology might work for them.
Maine Rural Partners is the lead organization for Farm Energy Partners, a network of public and private sector organizations committed to strategically addressing energy challenges and opportunities of Maine’s farm community.
Maine NRCS also provided CIG grants to the following:
Windependence dba Community Energy Partners, LLC, in Freeport received $70,000 for “Advancing Farmer-Owned Wind Power in Maine”. They will educate eligible producers on Net Energy Billing, conduct a feasibility study on a Small Wind Turbine Bulk Buy Program and conduct educational webinars on Community Wind. The demonstration project will be primarily focused on rural Maine.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) in Unity received $44,000 to demonstrate “New Soil Health Building Techniques for Organic Farmers in the Northeast”. MOFGA will demonstrate and quantify the impacts of cover crops, crop rotations, tillage and/or soil amendments on soil chemical, physical, and/or biological properties and their relationships with nutrient cycling, soil and water availability, and plant growth.
Holly Miller, Project Manager of Hope’s Edge Farm in Hope, received $4,012 for “Hope’s Edge Conservation Initiative”. Miller will demonstrate and quantify the impacts of reducing on-farm electrical use by replacing old, highly-inefficient cooling and freezing equipment with new, energy-efficient equipment. This project proposes to reduce the carbon footprint of Hope’s Edge Farm in Hope by reducing on-farm electrical usage by 15 to 25 percent.
For information on NRCS and its programs, visit www.me.nrcs.usda.gov. For more information on Maine Rural Partners, visit http://www.mainerural.org/ .