Green Farming

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Green Farming in the High Nevada Desert

 

One does not have travel far from their local civilization to experience a vast wilderness without all the conveniences of modern life.  In the high plains desert of central Nevada it is easy to find miles and miles of uncivilized and uncultivated land that has no access to centralized utilities.  MAREH staff and volunteers worked with a local farming operation to plan and begin a transition from any dependency on centralized utilities to being a completely self-sufficient green farm operation.

One of the first activities was to complete an initial energy assessment to determine what the energy demands of the operations at the ranch were.  The second part of the assessment was to identify energy conservation  potentials and and what sources of renewable power were available to harness. Some of the findings of this assessment are available for review herein. 

Once an working energy load was determined a micro-grid had to be designed and installed on the ranch to be able to redirect generated renewable power to where it will be used immediately or stored to meet later demand.  Storage of the energy is being evaluated with several technologies being explored.  Storage concepts are an integral part of the micro-grid as they need to be integrated geographically as well as electrically into the desin. First is conversion of electrical energy into hydrogen, utilizing a Stuart Energy (Hydrogenics) 8 cell hydrogen electrolyzer capable of producing  400 gge (gallons of gasoline equivalent) of hydrogen in an 8 hour period.  A second approach is to pump water from the abundant surface water found on the ranch to a large storage tank on a local hill side and use it later to power a hydro-generator. Using the excess power to produce bio-fuels is also being evaluated as a storage and transportable fuel option. A fourth more conventional approach being considered is the use of storage batteries or energy storage capacitors. 

Renewable energy options being explored at Clover Creek Ranch include wind energy, solar energy, hydro-power, bio-fuels, and geo-thermal.

Green farming involves more then generating electrical power, a agricultural product is necessary as well. Currently energy intensive crop production methods are being evaluated and measured to determine alternative production techniques and/or alternative crops.  With an annual demand for electrical power 266,844 kWH per year at a cost of about $121,750 per year, there is a significant potential of savings opportunities. With the current cash crop being water demanding alfalfa it is important to look at alternative cash crop choices.  One of these alternatives being transitioned to, is the growing of peppers.  Currently several acres of land have been set aside for pepper production and a company, Caliente Peppers LLC., has been organized to process and market the crops.  

 

In these pages we want to share in pictures some of the experiences of MAREH personnel at Caliente. 

Caliente Pepper LLC, operates the Clover Creek Ranch located in Caliente, NV.  with the ultimate goal of being a completely sustainable, renewable energy powered.  The Ranch consists of 212 acres and produces alfalfa and peppers, with plans to expand both the alfalfa and pepper operations as well as add an onsite beef processing facility.

Stuart Energy (now Hydrogenics) electrolyzer, capable of producing 400 gge (gallons of gasoline equivalent) of hydrogen in an 8 hour period through the use of 8 individual cells. The electrolyzer is designed to use solar or wind as an input and is rated for 40 kW of solar PV input at 240 Volts.

Dr. Bob stands next to the control center of the massive 8 cell hydrogen electolyzer.

Dr. Bob works on revitalizing the 8 cells of raw power that produce up to 440 GGE (Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent) of hydrogen gass in an eight hour period.

Mustangs run wild on and around the Clover Creek Ranch and are an integral part of the ecosystem in the region.

Nadine Straitt is performing an intial hydrostatic survey of the natural water power system that flows through the ranch.  Hydro-turbines can add vital clean renewable power to the ranch's micro-grid.

The upper lake on the ranch will provide a continuous supply of water for hydropower, irrigation, and potential algae based bio-fules.

Storm damage can be severe in the high desert.

Peppers and other crops are planted in test beds and drip irrigated to conserve precious water in the desert environment.

Goats provide valuable waste products that are used in composting materials that will be added to the native soils to enrich them and make them suitable for sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Bob supervises the onloading of a recycled portable office that will become a part of the eco-friendly farm.

All heavy equipment at Clover Creek Ranch will be powered by bio-diesel fuel in the near future.

Low Cost bio-diesel fuel is refined from old cooking oils in an on farm micro-refinery.  This plant located on a neighboring ranch will provide enough fuel to power all the equipment at Clover Creek Ranch

Raw material in the form of old cooking oils collected from the many restaurants in Las Vegas. By products of the bio-diesel refining process include glycerides, which can be used for other consumer products, or as an organic coating for gravel roads to minimize erosion from wind, rain, and vehicle use. Glycerides, which are captured from refining old cooking oil are used to make a variety designer soaps and lotions right on the ranch.

 

 

         

 

 

          

    

                                   

 

 

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MAREH

361 Southwest Drive, #153, Jonesboro, AR 72401

(870) 206-0160

Copyright 2011 Mission for the Applications of Renewable Energy for Humanity
Last modified: October 25, 2011