11/7/2017 3:39:00 PM German farmer, lawyer, talk about energy, sustainable agriculture
By Karen M. Jorgensen
A farmer and a lawyer, both from Lower Saxony in Germany, were in Kasson last week to participate in a rural energy roundtable with a group of state and local officials.
Also speaking to a group of interested residents were Jim Checkel, past president of the Dodge County Farm Bureau, Farmers Union President Gary Wertish, former state representative Randy Demmer, State Sen. Nick Frentz, State Sen. David Senjem and several state officials.
Jochen Oestmann is a fourth generation hog and crop farmer in Germany. He manages about 990 acres of land and 4,000 hogs.
Oestmann said he uses corn silage and also manure to generate biogas, or renewable natural gas. In addition he uses solar panels to heat and power his farm and near-by businesses.
The reason he does this, he said, is because it is economically feasible. It is profitable, he said, because electricity in Germany per kilowatt hour is higher than in the United States.
He also said he has more diversity in his crops compared to the many cornfields he has seen during his visit to the Midwest. He also uses sugar beets and wheat to generate heat.
"It is not necessary to heat with oil," he said.
Europeans started 25 years ago and the system improves as it goes along.
"It's important to start," he said. "There are a lot of possibilities here."
Oestmann is chairman of the Farmers Association for the County Luneburger Heide and the Committee for Renewable Energy at the Lower Saxony Farmers Association.
The second guest from Germany, Harald Wedemeyer, is a lawyer for the Lower Saxony Farmers Association.
Germany does not have a lot of energy resources, he said, and the goal is to make the energy supply secure and affordable by 2050.
Nuclear power plants are to be phased out by 2022, he said, and by 2050 the goal is to have 80 percent of all energy from renewables. The country is already nearly 30 percent renewables, he said.
Climate change is also a major factor in Germany's energy decisions, he said.
Energy costs will only continue to increase, he said, so the answer is to use less.
Read the rest of the story in the print edition of the Star Herald.