Dale Bunger

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since May 14, 2012
Grew up on a conventional dairy farm and learned that I had a very limited interest in agriculture. After 20 years in a technical career and a newfound pursuit of healthy food choices, I rediscovered farming and rural living.
WI, USA (Zone 5) Continental ~33" avg. rainfall
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Recent posts by Dale Bunger

Thanks for the bump, I appreciate any support you can throw my way.

The Kickstarter is my wife's project, so my reward is in her success. Go Permies
3 years ago
For anyone planning on building raised beds this coming year, you may be interested in this Kickstarter

Basically, a heavy duty corner bracket that will dramatically increase the lifespan of your raised beds and allow you to build attractive structures to boot.

I'll let the kickstarter page do the talking and thanks for your time...

Dale
3 years ago
I have had excellent results with Albert Lea Seeds in MN.

http://www.alseed.com

They have both Organic and non-organic varieties and many pre-mixed green manure and forage mixes.

I have used their nitromax mix of oats, peas, and tillage radishes and it is awesome. Seed it in August and it will totally winter kill. The daikon radishes get huge and melt away in the spring.

I also used one of their pasture mixes for increased diversity in my annual grazing lanes and will have a better idea of how that is working next year. This mix includes:
20% BG34 Barenbrug Perennial Ryegrass
15% Milkway Fescue Blend
15% Ginger Grazing Bluegrass
5% Birdsfoot Trefoil*
2.5% Alice White Clover 15% Smooth Bromegrass*
15% Spring Green Festulolium
10% Baridana Orchardgrass
2.5% Chicory*

All of their seed mixes are available in 50# bags for large scale use but if you call them they will happily put 5#'s in a bag and send it out with minimal price per pound difference.

Excellent selection, commercial level prices and super easy to work with. Plus family owned and operated from Minnesota...
4 years ago
I am interested in installing a Wind System on my property and have spent the last few weeks gathering information and looking at ideas/concepts.
In my search for information, I came across a book at our library that I suggest should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic.
The book is called "Wind Power, Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business" by Paul Gipe
It is over 400 pages of theory, description, examples, and history.
He discusses types of Wind Turbines, towers, site considerations, permitting, safety, and tons of other great stuff.
The information is around 10 years old and seems to be a little dated when it comes to inverters and control, but the basics regarding rotors, generators, and blades types is timeless.
There are also formulas for nearly every thing you would ever want to calculate and realistic numbers regarding what to expect from a system.
It is also amazing at how many "new" and "game changing" ideas we see on the Internet that have already been tried and proven to less than effective. Bummer.... so many of my "outside of the box" thoughts have already been tried

The following is my attempt to summarize some of the more interesting things that I've picked up. Some are obvious, some took me by surprise, and some are probably still debatable. Enjoy...

"Power is proportional to the area intercepted by the wind turbine. Double the area intercepting the wind and you double the power available."

"When the wind strikes an object, it exerts a force while attempting to move it out of the way. Some of the winds kinetic energy is given up or transferred, causing the object to move."

Seems obvious, but it really is a simple as Mass(of the air) x Speed(of the air) = Energy
They call this the Power Density and it varies based on elevation, temperature, and a few other factors.

So when thinking about the size of a wind turbine, it is all about the swept area of the rotor. (Spinning Part) The energy from the wind is what we are trying to intercept and regardless of horizontal vs. vertical, drag vs. lift, etc., etc., etc... you simply cannot get anymore energy than the area of wind you are capturing.

"Power is a cubic function of wind speed. Double the speed, and power increases eight times"

"Wind Speed - No other factor is more important to the amount of wind power available to a wind turbine than the speed of the wind. Because the power in the wind is a cubic function of wind speed, changes in speed produce a profound effect on power."
"Consider the power available at one site with a wind speed of 10 (units are not important), and another site with a wind speed of 12. Although there's only a 20% difference between the wind speeds, there's 73% more power available at the windier location."


So the starting point in any calculation is the area that is being intercepted by the rotor. On a horizontal turbine, this is the area defined by the blade diameter. On a Vertical Axis turbine, this is the height of the turbine x its width. On some of the ducted designs, this would be the area of the ducted inlet.

This is the "MAXIMUM" amount of energy that is available to be captured. EVER. However, even this number is not "really" available.

"The maximum that we can capture at the rotor, the theoretical limit, was derived by Albert Betz. The Betz limit is 59.3% of the power in the wind available to the rotor." This is where many of the "Ground Breaking" designs claim to have broken free from the constraints of conventional wind turbines, and as with any theory, it is meant to be tested, but I would be extremely skeptical of any of these designs until they are proven by an unbiased group...

My searches have led me to believe that rotor design and efficiency appears to be the area with the most innovation, opportunity, and unfortunately, deception. Most of the incredibly cool looking designs that claim to have revolutionized the wind industry are short lived and almost none of these ideas have had any commercial success. Not that this is the only measuring stick, but it is whats proven at this point.

There are 2 main types of rotor design, ones that use "drag", like a cup and others that utilize "lift", like an airplane wing.

It is generally accepted that most drag style devices, including Savonius Vertical designs or old farm style wind mills, are limited to around 20% efficiency. However, they are capable of capturing more "low wind" energy and are typically more efficient and useful than lift style systems at these low wind levels. The downside is that there is very little energy to be capture at this point.

The lift style devices including most horizontal designs, and the Darrieus style of vertical designs are capable of efficiency approaching 40%. This is considerably more efficient than the drag style units, but they need a stronger wind to be effective.



So, the swept area of the rotor determines how much wind you can intercept, wind speed affects how much energy is available in this area, rotor design affects how much of this energy is actually able to captured, and now we are left with the efficiency of converting the mechanical power to electrical energy. Most modern designs are pretty efficient with the direct drive models being slightly more efficient than units that require a gearbox to speed up the generator portion of the unit. (Note, almost all large generators must use a gearbox due to the very slow main shaft speed, but many smaller designs use dedicated generators that are driven directly from the blades.)

So when you see a 6kW or a 10kW unit, this is really only an indication of how much energy the generator could "possibly" produce under near perfect conditions. Start by calculating the swept area of the rotor, the wind speed in your location, the rotor efficiency and the overall efficiency of the generator and you are getting close to what you could actually expect.

It seems like a really rough rule of thumb is that with a reasonable design, in a reasonably well placed site, the most you should expect is around 25% of the rated output on a extended basis. Anything too much beyond these numbers is either an actual breakthrough or more likely a scam or manipulation of numbers.

So if my homestead uses approximately 800kWh per month or approximately 26.6kWh per day or approximately 1.1kWh per hour, then I would need between a 5kW - 6kW wind turbine, operating at 20% efficiency, to offset my electrical use.

And most important, regardless of the design, the swept area would need to intercept at least 30 square meters or 300 square feet.

Sorry that it took so many words to get to the end of this, but the book was "really, really, good"

5 years ago
An update after a few weeks.

As expected, the content is excellent and his delivery is right on target. There is none of the "end of the world" feeling that was present in the promotional material. Just very good information presented by someone that has obviously been doing this successfully for quite a while. His videos are simple, mostly just Geoff and a whiteboard, but the information is priceless and really makes you realize how many bits and pieces you have been missing. Not necessarily big things, just lots of little details that really make you rethink what you thought you knew.

However, the best part of it so far is due to its online nature. Being able to go back and re-listen to portions that were complicated or going back to a concept after something clicked later on is invaluable.

I would say that after 3 weeks, the course would have been worth the price even without the videos and extras that are being thrown in. These items are simply icing on the cake.

That being said, I am also enrolled in an on-site course on Mark Shepard's farm in a couple of weeks, where I anticipate we will get our hands dirty with the nuts and bolts of Forest Ag at it's finest.

His comments are that his goal is not to teach anyone how to go out and teach Permaculture, but instead to inspire people to actually go out and practice Forest Agriculture with success.

I look forward to discussing the different approaches here in the future.
We raised 60 heritage turkeys and were very frustrated in our efforts to contain them. They flew over the fence with ease and preferred roosting in the trees rather than any structure we made. We lost over 20 birds to cototes and were forced to clipping a wing on each bird in an effort to keep them contained. This didn't work for all of them, but if only 1 got out, it would spend the rest of the day walking around the fence trying to get back in.

Did I mention it was frustrating ; )

You would probably be fine with a broad breasted variety, but I have no personal experience with them.
6 years ago
I just read about and downloaded an app called Buycott. It is absolutely amazing. You pick/join causes that you believe in (the most popular one is GM labeling), and you use your phone to scan the barcode of items. It quickly identifies the company, it's parent company, and on and on. If it conflicts with your cause it lets you know. Not only this, but it shows how much they contributed to the enemy and shows their "family tree" so you can see its other partners.

Incredibly easy and super effective.

I scanned in a box of Kashi cereal, which I knew was from Kellogg's and it immediately said "not good, they contributed $780,000 to fight GM labeling.

The only problem I see with this is it will take me twice as long to grocery shop ; )
6 years ago
I agree with the thought and have the same issue with the term "conventional" farming. Both terms sort of imply that all other methods are somehow not normal...

I don't know if it would ever catch on, but I would agree that a better term is probably appropriate.
I highly recommend Wallace Woodstock Nursery located in Neillsville, WI. They have a tremendous selection and grow the plants around the central WI area. They have a decent listing on their web page and Tom Wallace is really helpful and knowledgable.

http://www.wallace-woodstock.com/main.htm

6 years ago
Hopefully, I am taking things too literally, but I am struggling with the arrangement of layers in regards to slope.

It seems like the ideal situation for swales and solar exposure in the northern hemisphere are at odds with each other.

My understanding is that the swales will stop the water and cause a saturated zone just downhill from the swale itself and that the berm that is created will actually dry out relatively quickly and is ideal for the shrub/berry layer.

It is also my understanding that the layers should be planted so that the lower layers are on the sunny side of the understory and canopy layers.

I tried to make a picture to show my thoughts.

Here is the sun relative to a Northern slope. It puts the layers in an ideal spot.



and here are the same plants located on a Southern slope. It seems like the berm would get very little sunlight once this is established.



I am confident that the berms will do a fine job of capturing and storing the water, but are their any suggestions for optimizing the layers on the Southern slope?
6 years ago