Propane to biomass dryer leads to 90% savings
A Michigan farmer says a biomass-powered grain dryer is helping him cut energy costs during harvest.
Mike Milligan tells Brownfield he wanted to expand his propane drying system and a Google search led him to a Canadian option.
“We needed to do something, either natural gas but natural gas was really priced out of the market, or put in a big LP tank which was also going to be a big expense without a great return,” he shares. “We went for the third option, and we burn wood chips from a local company.”
Milligan retrofitted his current dryer with an external heat source which he powers with local mulch, but other green biomass can be used.
“We are between 80-90 percent savings in drying per bushel, it’s going to take about five to six years for a full payback,” he says.
Milligan also received a 25 percent USDA Rural Energy for America grant and tax credits to offset the investment. Today, that program can give farmers up to a 50 percent matching grant.
“I don’t think it’s a fit for everyone, but in my mind, if I’m up checking the dryer 2-3 times a night or whatever it may be, you’re already up, so checking the burner isn’t that big of a deal,” he says.
And, he says other farmers interested in greener options are reaching out since it’s the first of its kind installed in the U.S.