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Agriculture

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Farms are major users of energy. Pumps, tractors, cool storage, harvesting, maintaining crops and livestock facilities all require large amounts of energy.

While wages, exchange rates and commodity prices are set by external factors, direct actions by farmers can help reduce energy expenses as a proportion of the overall farm budget.

Opportunities exist for Australian farmers to better control their energy costs by:

  • improving practices and systems
  • changing or modifying equipment
  • switching to alternative, less expensive energy sources
  • purchasing energy more strategically.

Cotton

Energy is one of the fastest growing costs for cotton growers. Electricity and diesel accounts for up to 50% of grower’s total input costs meaning significant opportunities to improve profitability.

The Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) has developed energy-efficiency information for cotton growing businesses to implement and reduce operating costs.

The following case studies and resources show how cotton businesses are reducing energy use and costs.

Baan Baa – Diesel to gas conversion. Demonstrates how a Baan Baa, NSW, cotton farmer is reducing his energy costs by converting his diesel engines to a hybrid of diesel and gas.

Comet – Integrating alternative energy solutions. A study into the energy use of a Queensland irrigator, including analysis on the farm's centre-pivot, river pump and grain-drying facilities.

Goondiwindi – Pump evaluation. Information on testing individual pumping set-ups to identify the optimum operating point to achieve maximum efficiency.

​​​CottonInfo – Factsheets 

  • energy assessment and management
  • reducing farm energy costs
  • energy use in cotton
  • pumping efficiency
  • pumps in the Australian cotton industry
  • pump cavitation
  • monitoring tractor fuel use
  • tractor setup

See the CRDC CottonInfo website for more information on energy management in the cotton industry.

Dairy

Energy costs account for a significant proportion of dairy farm overheads, in particular milk cooling, milk harvesting and hot water production. Improving energy efficiency in these areas can enhance sustainability and reduce costs.

The Australian Government has funded the development of energy-efficiency information through Dairy Australia for the country’s 1400 dairy farms.

The Dairy Australia website includes information and resources to reduce energy costs and better manage land, water and climate to improve farm production and profitability.

Some of Dairy Australia’s resources include:

Fruit

Energy use in Australian orchards accounts for a large proportion of production costs and is a major financial burden for fruit businesses. For these businesses, energy is their second largest cost after labour.

The Australian Government funded energy audits for 30 orchards and packing sheds in 10 Australian growing regions which led to development of energy-efficiency information. The audits showed that, on average, fruit businesses could save $16,300 per year by making cost effective upgrades with a payback period of 6 years or less.

Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) has developed a range of case studies to illustrate how fruit businesses have saved money by becoming more energy efficient, including:

NSW

Batlow - installing a power factor correction unit (PDF 398KB)

Orange - switching to energy-efficient lighting in packing shed (PDF 1.3MB)

Young - automating fruit cool room doors (PDF 264KB)

Queensland

Stanthorpe - changing power usage to manage electricity demand (PDF 818KB)

South Australia

Inglewood - using solar panels on packing shed (PDF 384KB)

Tasmania

Head pressure reduction in fruit cool store refrigeration system (PDF 294KB)

Victoria

Goulburn and Yarra Valley - installing voltage power optimisation (PDF 265KB)

Goulburn Valley - upgrading fruit cool store refrigeration systems (PDF 266KB)

Swan Hill - using a variable speed drive on orchard irrigation motor (PDF 443KB)

Western Australia

Manjimup - installing variable speed drives on evaporative fan motors (PDF 1MB)

APAL has also developed a collection of informative energy-efficiency material, including factsheets and a presentation, to help you cut energy use and save money in all areas of your business.

Irrigators

Improved irrigation efficiency can increase grower returns at reduced costs.

Business Queensland has developed information on energy efficiency for farmers and irrigators, including how to save money by switching tariffs and adopting more energy efficient practices.

Wineries

Refrigeration and tank storage account for up to 70% of energy consumption in a winery. By reducing energy use in refrigeration and other high-consumption areas, wineries can greatly improve energy efficiency and save money.

The South Australian Wine Industry Association has developed case studies on how wineries have improved their energy efficiency, as well the Winery Energy Saver Toolkit. This contains information to help identify, prioritise and action energy-efficiency improvements for wine manufacturing.

Programs

Energy Southern Queensland (EnergySQ) Queensland Farmers' Federation. Free assessments to help farmers understand and manage on-farm energy consumption. Any farms in the Southern Downs and Goondiwindi Regional Council areas can participate, either individually or in a ‘cluster’ of farms.

Energy Savers Queensland Farmers’ Federation. Free independent electricity audits to assist farmers to reduce their energy costs by supporting the accelerated adoption of improvements in on-farm energy use. Case studies and other information resources are available.

On-Farm Energy Assessments Victorian Government. Free assessments to analyse on-farm energy use (electricity, gas and diesel) and identify opportunities to make energy savings, improve output volumes per energy unit, and convert to renewable energy sources.

Case studies

Energy on-farm success stories Agriculture Victoria - Find out how other farm businesses have used the Victorian Energy Upgrades Program to help recoup some of their upfront energy upgrade costs.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation - Sustainable and energy-efficient farming in applications including refrigeration, pumps and solar.

CottonInfo - Sustainability options for cotton farms covering energy, water and natural resource management.

Dairy Australia - Energy management including monitoring and tariff structure strategies.

Dairying for Tomorrow - Energy assessments at dairy farms across the country. Opportunities include heat recovery, cooling tower upgrades and improved energy monitoring.

Qld Farmer's Federation - Implemented and proposed actions, covering energy management and a range of technologies.

St Ignatius Vineyard and Winery - An energy assessment conducted under the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Energy Investment Plan.

Read more

Transforming Australian agriculture with clean energy: A practical guide to lowering on-farm energy use and carbon emissions (PDF 5.26 MB) (CEFC) Australian Government

Bottled energy: how wineries manage electricity costs (AEMO) Australian Government

Energy management NSW Government 

Renewables - For Farmers NSW Government

Energy efficiency for farmers and irrigators Queensland Government

Agricultural case studies Victorian Government

Farms and business - case studies and guides Victorian Government

FarmHub National Farmers’ Federation

Navigating a dynamic energy landscape: A briefing for farms National Farmers Federation and Energy Efficiency Council