While it may be a subtle advancement in the eyes of many, Wayne Digby sees a definite sea change underway on Manitoba’s agricultural lands when it comes to renewable energy.
“Personally I think that we are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the utilization of renewable energy on the farm and that as we see Manitoba Hydro rates increase and the cost of renewable energy decrease there will be an increasing interest on the part of producers in looking at how they can incorporate renewable sources in meeting their energy needs,” says Digby, secretary treasurer of Manitoba Sustainable Energy Association (ManSEA).
The Brandon-based Digby’s connection to Manitoba’s agricultural lands is forever bonded via his well-respected professional career in Manitoba’s agriculture circles. In fact, while the makeup of the ManSEA board criss-crosses many areas of expertise in Manitoba’s renewable energy industries, there are strong agricultural roots on the board, including chair Wayne Clayton, a retired CFIA district veterinarian and current Keystone Agricultural Producer president Dan Mazier, who – along with ManSEA vice-chair Carl Cunningham – represent the Elton Energy Co-op on the ManSEA board.
“The mission of ManSEA is to promote the use and production of renewable, sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy in Manitoba,” says Digby. “We want to enhance sustainable energy policy and programs in Manitoba, provide information on sustainable energy opportunities, encourage the development of community energy projects and encourage the development of sustainable energy educational opportunities within Manitoba schools.”
Digby says ManSEA holds an annual conference which focuses on various renewable energy opportunities and topics. The 2017 conference was held in Portage la Prairie and the keynote speaker lineup included Manitoba Agriculture’s Daryl Domitruk who addressed farm practicalities as part of a presentation he co-authored with Manitoba Agriculture’s Eric Liu and Matt Wiens titled “How do Agriculture and Renewable Energy Intersect on the Issue of GHG Emissions?”
“Practicalities of family farms include large output per unit labour due to mechanization and constant effort to max return of investment; must focus labour and capital on tasks directly affecting production and marketing; secondary tasks such as producing energy may be a challenge to incorporate,” Domitruk outlined in the presentation. “However, farms are very diverse and many are considering advanced approaches to energy supply.”