U.S. Department of Agriculture Awards PERC With Conservation Innovation Grant


 Download U.S. Department of Agriculture Awards PERC With Conservation Innovation Grant 

Washington, DC (Sept. 21, 2005) —The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) achieved another important milestone recently with the announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) that PERC has been awarded a $40,000 grant under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program.

NRCS Chief Bruce Knight made the announcement on August 24, 2005, at an agricultural event in Virginia with Congressman Bob Goodlatte.  “These grants provide opportunities for public-private partnerships that stimulate innovative technologies and approaches to environmental enhancement and protection on working agricultural lands,” Knight said.  “These cooperative conservation projects will help farmers and ranchers address their current conservation needs.”

Grants will fund the development and adoption of innovative technologies and approaches through pilot projects and conservation field trials. The total value of all funded CIG projects, including the recipients’ match of at least 50 percent, is more than $44 million.

“The PERC grant is significant because it allows us to place propane-powered equipment in one of the most productive agriculture regions of California and the U.S.,” said Mark Leitman, PERC director of agriculture programs.  “Demonstrations within a state that leads the nation in environmental and conservation priorities will lead to more propane-fueled solutions on all farms across the country.”

Specifically, this grant will allow the Council to partner with the Western Placer Unified School District, located in one of the fastest growing areas in Northern California, which operates a 280-acre farm and a 179-acre outdoor learning environment facility.  The farm is involved in crop and livestock production, teaching agricultural chemistry and biology, natural history and wildlife research. 

This project will provide the school's farming operation with the Atarus Stinger, an innovative propane-fueled steam weed control machine, a low-emission propane irrigation engine, and an intelligent remotely accessible moisture measurement and telemetry system to allow for real-time adjustments to irrigation pump operations.  Water and energy conservation benefits, along with air and soil quality will be realized by the routine operation of the propane-powered steam weed control system, with the use of the propane engine, and through the use of the "smart" irrigation measurement system, respectively.

The Atarus Stinger will be used between rows in the orchard and along irrigation ditches to control weeds on the farm.  Since the Atarus Stinger uses heat to provide chemical-free weed control, the use of this technology is recognized by USDA as an approved organic production practice.

“We’re excited about the grant and the partnership with PERC,” said Roger Yohe, District Superintendent for Lincoln High School.  “This partnership will allow our school farm to operate with reduced pesticides, reduced emissions, and increased efficiency.  Now more than ever, our farm will serve as a model in the community.  Our students will be on the cutting edge of agricultural practices and can share this knowledge with adult farmers in the region.”

Bob Heuvel, Advisor of the California FFA Association commented, “The Lincoln High School Farm and this project, serve as an outstanding example of the value of technological advances and the desire of education and industry partners to be held accountable for the stewardship of the environment in which we live.”

PERC’s vision in agriculture is that by 2010, the agricultural industry will recognize propane as a preferred energy source offering exceptional value. This value is achieved through a unique combination of product benefits, including cost-effectiveness, efficiency and productivity, reliability, portability and environmental friendliness.

For more information on PERC and its programs to promote the safe and efficient use of propane in agriculture, call (202) 452- 8975 or visit www.usepropane.com and click on the “Trades” link.