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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

RSS By: U.S. Farm Report, US Farm Report

Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

LOTS of Feedback

Mar 23, 2010
***The following viewer comments were received following the March 20-21, 2010 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

    Hey Bud, havent had time to watch lately as my schedule changes . I was wondering if anyone has advised you of the TERRIBLE  maple sapp harvest in New York this season???
    My brother and I are simple "home ,family & friends" boilers, but the commercials folks must be taking a HARD, MASSIVE, HIT.  We can continue to collect what little is running, but it's cloudy, low sugar and VERY LITTLE.  After a good, cold winter the warm spring didn't allow the cold, below freezing overnites we had last year to get trees "pumping".
   Yesterday I spoke to a small producer named Cornell, Owego New York and he shut down this past week and was cleaning up, DONE for the season .  Seems cultivated trees in valleys were FAIR as overnite temps were near or below freezing (with little or no wind), but on hillsides the temps were higher overnight. Jeff and I tapp both areas and found it so, and Mr. Cornell had similar results.  Just a thought for news .
Pops Howard 
Apalachin, New "YUCK"...Love the land , HATE the taxes


John,
   Our affectionate reference to the “firsters” in the field is “diesel fever.”   The people who are the most anxious to till in the mud are both fun and funny.
   I’m sure current tractors smoke less when started than the previous models, but we’ve had a lot of fun with the smoke caused by starting an tractor engine.  All we had to do was start the tractor, and our neighborhood “firster” Milt Sweat would come flying over the hill in his pickup to see what was going on, and to be sure he was not missing out on fun and tillage in the mud.
Dave Anderson
Overland Park, KS
(Off-site farm owner from Jamestown, Kansas)


***Editor's Note:  The following viewer feedback was received in response to the "Farm Report Mailbag" segment.  In advance of the viewer feedback we are posting a transcript of the segment...

FARM REPORT MAILBAG:
    WE HAVE AN ENERGY RELATED COMMENT FROM BRADLEY WESTFALL FROM CHEERIO FARMS IN RUDOLPH, WISCONSIN.  "IT SEEMS THAT IF PRODUCTION CAN BE INCREASED WITH THE NEW TYPE FUEL CELLS BY BLOOM ENERGY, THAT METHANE FROM ANY SOURCE CAN BE UTILIZED FOR PRODUCTION OF ELECTRICITY CHEAPER THAN FROM ANY OTHER SOURCE. THE ORIGINAL INSTALLATION COST WOULD BE SO MUCH LESS THAN ANY OTHER TYPE EXCEPT WATER POWER."
    BRADLEY, THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENT. MANY VIEWERS SAW THE SEGMENT ON FUEL CELLS ON "60 MINUTES".  I HAVE BEEN BLOGGING ABOUT FUEL CELLS FOR SOME TIME, HOPING THEY WOULD BECOME FEASIBLE FOR FARMS, BUT SERIOUS TECHNICAL RESTRICTIONS STILL REMAIN.
    THE GENERATION UNITS ARE BEST RUN AT CONSTANT LOAD, NOT THE WILD PEAKS AND LULLS TYPICAL OF A SINGLE FARM. WHILE EXCESS POWER COULD BE SOLD BACK TO THE UTILITY, WHICH HAS PROVED TO BE TRICKY TO NEGOTIATE.  THE UNITS SHOWN ALSO PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF WASTE HEAT. THIS IS FINE IN THE WINTER, BUT NOT MUCH USE IN THE SUMMER.
    RIGHT NOW THE ONLY FARMS FUEL CELLS MAKE SENSE FOR ARE THE SERVER FARMS WHERE BANKS OF COMPUTERS POWER THE INTERNET. STILL THE TECHNOLOGY IS EVOLVING, AND SUCH IDEAS OF DISTRIBUTED POWER GENERATION MAY YET BECOME REALITY FOR RURAL AMERICA.
 
VIEWER RESPONSE:
   Just a few comments...first of all, you can take the waste heat from the fuel cell and feed it into a secondary Stirling cycle engine to run another generator to recover a lot of that heat and convert it to electricity.
   In order to deal with the peak load issue you can use a bank of highly efficient batteries to store power on site to meet peak loads.
   If you purchase power from a rural cooperative instead of a big multistate power company you may find it easier to negotiate selling power back to the grid.  I have also found these to be more reliable than the big companies since they are customer owned.
   Finally you can take some of the CO2 from the fuel cell and feed it into greenhouses to accelerate the growth of young plants and use the water from the fuel cell to drink or to water the plants in the greenhouse.
   So, you have to think of the fuel cell as part of an overall system.  This is not unlike the Krebs or TCA cycle in human cells.  There are many steps which very efficiently metabolize glucose and oxygen into CO2, water and energy in the form of ATP (the battery).  In this analogy the fuel cells are kind of like the metabolic enzymes.
   Of course you can also add in wind energy or other sources depending on your finances and geographic location.
Very truly yours,
James W. Adams
Columbus, OH


   I have become a US Farm Report fan for about a year now. I watched your comment on fuel Cells with interest this morning and thought you were right on. I am retired from EPRI where I was an R&D project manager for 21 years (in Solar, Energy Efficiency and Electric Vehicles) EPRI has worked on Fuel Cells since the early 70's and much progress has been made however Bloom Energy has the hype of Siliocn Valley venture capitalist, so who knows were the truth lies. And you are right about the bias on sell back to the Electric Utilities. What you might enjoy is a new book just out called "Hybrid Electric Home", by Craig Toepfer, who is in my estimate one of the most experienced engineers on farm electrification espically small wind systems. And he give an indepth history of the early farm electrification efforts, espically those by Charles Kettering and his creation of the Delco-Light equipment for farms. It is facinating reading. Highly recommend it. There is also a web site.
Gary


   This past week John got on about the new fuel cells seen on 60 minutes and I admit, to use methane would be an expensive issue for farmers to convert their operation to BUT what "IF" a farmer had rights to his natural gas wells?  Those things that reside UNDER the land?
   My comment is for what John concluded to at the end of his segment.  Having too much waste heat in the summer from a fuel cell, Let's see: - use it for air conditioning.....YES, air conditioning.  Ammonia air conditioning systems have been around like FOREVER and use heat to cool homes, workshops, refrigeration, freezing, water coolers....what ever you would want to cool.
   Start an ice making business?  Also, how about using the heat for HOT WATER?  Anyone would like to save money in anyway possible.  Being narrow minded shows to me that you all are owned by the government.
   The more I watch (and I've been watching for 7 years) just proves to me that either your show is pushing the next government initiative or what ever vendor that sponsors your program wants pushed. I can see where a comment like that is the "seed" that gets in peoples minds to kill a grand idea.  Sad, very sad. 
   I wish you all the best as you TRY to do better.  How about this as your next closing quote: 
"Do or do not. There is no TRY." ~ Yoda ~
Pete Tokarczyk
Snowville, VA

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