Organic Valley farmer-owners Bob and Chris Fiedler recently installed a new wind turbine on their organic dairy farm in Dodge County, Wisconsin. The 50 Kw Endurance turbine, the largest single-phase wind turbine on the North American market, is expected to produce 120,000 Kwh annually at the Fiedler’s farm, equating to more than four times their usage. Excess power will be sold back to the utility company, providing profit to the Fiedlers and sustainably produced energy for their neighbors.
The new wind turbine is one of many innovative practices the Fiedlers are implementing on their farm. They also grow sunflowers to produce feed and biofuel. Oil is pressed out of the sunflowers and processed into biodiesel to run the Fiedler’s farming equipment or used directly as straight vegetable oil (SVO) to fuel their family car, and the pressed sunflowers make excellent high-protein feed for livestock.
“Being an organic farmer means more than farming without antibiotics or synthetic hormones and pesticides,” says Chris Fiedler. “To us, it’s also a commitment to preserving the land and our earth for future generations. This is why we are prioritizing energy efficiencies and renewable energy projects on our farm. And as members of the Organic Valley cooperative, we’re fortunate to have project coordination and grant writing support to help make these projects a reality.”
Organic Valley’s On-Farm Sustainability Program is an ongoing effort to assist cooperative members with energy efficiency measures and responsible and renewable energy projects. The program assisted the Fiedlers in securing grant funds, tax credits and rebates that helped offset the cost of the wind turbine. The program has been in operation for more than two years, and interest in on-farm energy and fuel has steadily increased during this time.
“Many of our farmers are eager to find ways to make their operations more independent and sustainable,” says Jake Wedeberg, on-farm sustainability coordinator for Organic Valley. “Projects like the Fiedlers’ showcase the innovative spirit alive throughout our co-op and among our nation’s farmers.”
The Fiedlers have been members of Organic Valley since 2004. They milk 65 cows on 225 acres in Watertown, Wisconsin.
Their wind turbine features a 140 ft. tower, 30 ft. blades and 50 Kw turbine. It was installed by Seventh Generation Energy Systems of Madison, Wisconsin, which specializes in renewable wind and solar energy systems throughout the Midwest.