Clarkson University receives nearly $500,000 to study small farm technology
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 6:03 am

POTSDAM -- Clarkson University will receive $499,124 in U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to study small farms technology, according to Congressman Bill Owens.

The grant will provide funding for researchers to examine anaerobic digesters that break down organic waste for use in energy production.

“This award is great recognition that USDA is interested in research on these systems,” said project director and Clarkson University Professor Stefan Grimberg. “These funds will go toward building demonstration models used for training a large number of farmers in the region who could potentially benefit from this technology. We are looking forward to working with USDA and their extension services on this project.”

Anaerobic digesters are airtight containers or pits with bacteria that break down waste and produce methane gas, which is then burned to create electricity and heat. The devices are inexpensive to build and maintain and their use can help reverse deforestation from wood burning, reduce air pollution, fertilize over-used fields and produce safe, clean energy for rural communities. This technology also reduces waste, lowers costs for farmers and makes small farms more self-sufficient.

Grants awarded through AFRI go toward projects using agricultural research and education to address issues of regional or national concern. Funds support both technological research in agriculture and the community outreach and education needed to help agricultural communities make effective use of the resulting research findings.

“Clarkson University has long been a leader in agricultural technology research in our region,” Owens said. “This project builds on that leadership, helping small farmers in our region discover new technologies that will help their bottom line and help the environment at the same time.”

The AFRI program is centered around five challenges: to keep American agriculture competitive while ending world hunger, to improve nutrition and end child obesity, to improve food safety for all Americans, to secure America’s energy future, and to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Clarkson University is leading the way on clean energy innovation that can strengthen our farms and our economy,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “With this strong federal investment, Clarkson can equip more local farms with technology to transform their own natural resources into power for their farming, all while cutting costs, protecting our environment, and growing our economy.”

More information about the AFRI program is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/afri/afri.html.