Many of us will enjoy turkey this Thanksgiving, but have you ever considered what turkey farmers go through to raise those birds before they reach our plate? I certainly gave it a closer look when I saw a story from the MU News Bureau about a University of Missouri engineer that developed a geothermal heating system for turkey farms.
My first thought was “Why would a turkey farm need a geothermal system?” Little did I know that turkeys need to be kept in 90 degree temperatures when they are young and at least 70 degrees when they are older. The turkeys are not as comfortable and won’t eat as well if temperatures are too low, but keeping such high temperatures must cause the utility bills for turkey farmers to spike through the roof.
Lower utility costs is one benefit of the geothermal system. The prototype farm in Cooper County Missouri is said to have cut costs in half. The researchers hope similar systems could be installed at other turkey farms by next year in time for winter.
While I think this seems like a great and innovative idea to use geothermal for agricultural purposes, I’m not sure just how practical it is for other turkey farmers to take on such a system. It may help with utility costs once it is installed, but it’s unknown if many farmers will want to go through the installation process, which is likely expensive.
Regardless of how many farmers install geothermal next year, I think this is an awesome step forward for agriculture.