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Old Windmill Patrick Bolduan

Wind has always been an important part of agriculture. In fact, wind has powered agriculture for more than a thousand years to mill wheat and pump water. Wind in agriculture has produced many iconic tributes to agriculture throughout history. The multi-bladed wind mills sitting atop a lattice tower in rural America, the famous windmills of the Netherlands, and the coastal windmills of Greece all pay tribute to the wind powering agriculture. You can still see many flat-bladed wind mills in rural areas either pumping water to crops or pumping air to ponds and lake. So how is wind used to support agriculture today?

 

The biggest contribution wind is providing is giving farmers extra funds with land use leases. Most farms are large, relatively flat, and separated from residential neighborhoods. Farm land is often a very good option for installing utility scale wind farms.  Project developers typically pay $3000 to $5000 per turbine per year, offering another source of income to farmers.

 

Agricultural wind turbines can also generate electricity for use at the site. A distributed wind turbine (small wind turbine) that ranges from less than 20kW to 100kW can be scaled to meet the farm’s need for electricity. For example, farms in the Great Plains have high electrical needs to power the irrigation water pumps. The pumps use about 60kW when operating; electricity in rural farm land is often significantly more expensive than near cities.  Generating electricity on-site, offsetting electrical needs and reducing peak demand can make the most sense for people that live in high wind areas with more expensive electricity, especially when state incentives are available.

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