Pierre, South Dakota – (May 31, 2013) – Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), has made a $100,000 donation to the Dakota Lakes Research Farm in Pierre, SD. The FCSAmerica donation will directly support the Zero-Net Energy Demonstration and Education Building addition being constructed at the main station located seventeen miles east of Pierre adjacent to Highway 34. The Demonstration and Education Building addition will serve the mission of helping the Dakota Lakes Research Farm meet its long-term energy goals and also improve its education and outreach capability. A Zero-Net Energy Building by definition must produce more energy than it consumes. Dakota Lakes Research Farm is farmer-owned and farmer-managed.
Since its inception in 1990, the Dakota Lakes Research Farm’s primary goal is to identify, research and demonstrate methods of strengthening and stabilizing the agriculture economy. The effort initially focused on improving cropping systems through the introduction of new crops and development of diverse no-till crop rotations.
It has now expanded by adopting a plan to make the farm fossil energy neutral by the year 2026. This will require offsetting or replacing the fossil energy used to make fertilizers, machinery and other inputs for the farming enterprise. It also means replacing the energy used in the farm buildings.
“Our 2013 goal is to construct an addition to our current office building that will eventually be a zero-net energy building,” said Dwayne Beck, manager, Dakota Lakes Research Farm. “The $100,000 donation from Farm Credit Services of America accelerates our plans and will get us closer to reaching our energy neutrality goal.”
Initially, the addition will be heated and cooled using switchgrass biomass produced on the farm. Eventually, wind and solar power will become the primary sources of energy with the biomass system being used as the backup system. The new facility will be utilized as the machinery maintenance and fabrication facility. The existing shop facility will be converted to a classroom for seminars and training sessions held at the farm and for use in cold-pressing oilseed crops to produce livestock meal and vegetable oil. The vegetable oil will be sold for human consumption or as a source to replace or offset fossil fuel use. Presently the oil is used to heat the existing shop and office facility.
“Since we are farmer-owned and farmer-managed, bridging the gap between the laboratory and the real world is one of the roles that is important to the Dakota Lakes Board of Directors. Trying to take all the fossil energy out of the system forces us to identify the areas that need work to produce efficient alternatives,” added Beck. “This, in turn, gives the research community a whole suite of needs that fit together into one goal.”
At the present time, 80 percent of the input costs in agriculture can be traced directly to fossil energy. One-hundred and twenty years ago this was almost zero. One-hundred and twenty years from now, it will have to be zero again.
“South Dakota’s agriculture economy depends on continuous research and technology advancements,” said Bob Schmidt, senior vice president, FCSAmerica. “What happens at Dakota Lakes benefits the local producers, the state of South Dakota, and the next generation of ag producers, so we look forward to the progress of the efforts to become energy neutral.”
The Dakota Lakes Research Farm Corporation is a 501 C-3 created by farmers and other agricultural interests. In 1990 they were able to procure the land where this facility is located. The corporation makes the land, facilities, and the equipment it owns available to South Dakota State University who operates the research enterprise. The Corporation manages the production enterprise. Profits from the farming enterprise are used to support applied research projects and make improvements to facilities and machinery.
Through its community involvement program, FCSAmerica contributes more than $225,000 each year in educational scholarships and sponsorships for its Young and Beginning Program, 4-H, FFA and other agriculture leadership programs in its four-state area. In 2012, FCSAmerica and its employees contributed more than 4,000 volunteer hours and more than $1.4 million in community support to organizations in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
About Farm Credit Services of America
Farm Credit Services of America is a customer-owned financial cooperative proud to finance the growth of rural America, including the special needs of young and beginning producers. With more than $19 billion in assets and more than $3 billion in members’ equity, FCSAmerica is one of the region’s leading providers of credit and insurance services to farmers, ranchers, agribusiness and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Learn more at www.fcsamerica.com.
About Dakota Lakes Research Farm
Dakota Lakes Research Farm is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation formed by farmers. The corporation manages the production enterprise in a manner that optimizes appropriate long-term research, demonstration and development activities. Today, it is recognized world-wide as one of the leaders in designing farming systems that produce healthy food, clean water, living soils, and abundant wildlife, and profits for the farmer. Dakota Lakes Research Farm has been at the core of a transition in agricultural practices in central South Dakota that has increased diversity, improved environmental quality and enhanced productivity.