DAIRY farms in Victoria could save nearly $6000 a year and substantially cut their greenhouse gas emissions, a new energy audit has found.
The audit carried out at Terang’s DemoDAIRY to identify energy saving opportunities and potential greenhouse gas reductions found there was potential to cut emissions by 63 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
And because DemoDAIRY already has a good track record of making energy savings, other farms might have even greater scope for savings.
The audit was completed by CarbonetiX, a consulting company specializing in energy audits for private and government organizations.
DemoDAIRY hopes the savings it can identify and implement will show other farmers how they can achieve similar results in an economically sustainable manner.
If all recommendations in the report were followed, the savings could reduce DemoDAIRY’s electricity consumption by 48,376 kWh.
This represents almost one-third of the property’s total electricity use, including the office buildings.
The savings equate to cost savings of $5945 and greenhouse gas cuts of 63 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The DemoDAIRY board has agreed to continue pursuing energy reductions and to investigate ways to introduce the changes in a sustainable and cost-effective way.
The demonstration farm, which has 386 cows on 143 hectares, already has energy saving measures including evacuated tube solar collectors which supply most of its wash down hot water and a bore water/milk heat exchanger which is used as the primary cooling of freshly harvested milk. These measures have already reaped energy and cost savings.
CargonetiX energy efficiency engineer Linton Hartfield said the major energy and greenhouse gas saving opportunities in the dairy proper would happen by increasing the pressure of the wash down while reducing the overall flow rate, changing the final hot water wash down to cold water, and optimising the refrigeration system.
“These combined measures are expected to bring about GHG savings of 47 tonnes of CO2,” he said.
Mr Hartfield said DemoDAIRY was already using best practice methods in many areas, including the installation of a Solar Lord power system.
“It is already a best-practice dairy in many ways so you’re likely to find more savings on other farms,” he said.
“How much can be saved really depends on the size of the farm and the existing practices,” he said.
Mr Hartfield said people could make behavioural changes to help cut energey output, such as switching on power only when absolutely necessary, switching off at the wall, redefining what is warm and cold and making choices conscious of the energy implications.
He added that investments to drive energy efficiency were best implemented when there was a realistic appreciation of the payback periods
The South West Sustainability Partnership funded the audit which DemoDAIRY chairman Tim Bligh said was the first part of a broader project to measure and reduce the farm’s emissions.
“CarbonetiX has provided a practical template for reducing emissions and energy costs in some parts of our business, but the real challenge is tackling the increasing input costs and emissions generated out in the paddock,” Mr Bligh said.
Mr Bligh said the next step was getting more partners on board to properly explore the proposition that there is a cost effective way for a dairy farm to be carbon neutral, or at least close to it.
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