With the huge rise in energy costs, energy efficiency is receiving a lot of attention.
Based on research and farm studies, the findings of Moorepark researchers are as follows: The average cost of electricity measured on 21 commercial dairy farms in 2010 was 0.43c per litre of milk produced. These costs varied from 0.23c to 0.76c per litre — more than €1,500 of a difference on average farms.
Milk cooling and water heating consumes the most electricity. Plate cooling milk to within three degrees of the temperature of the incoming water can enable cooling a high percentage of morning milk at night rate electricity cost. Proper plate cooling can save as much as €700 in a 100-cow herd.
Eliminate energy waste by fixing hot water leaks, insulating pipes, and using lights only when necessary.
Night rate electricity use dramatically reduces costs. Investments in plate cooling, piping and wells are worthwhile.
The cost of oil has become a major expense on farms. Dermot Forristal of Teagasc has outlined a number of ways to save fuel in the recent issue of To Days Farm. A summary of these includes:
* Know how much fuel is being used for tasks and be able to compare with other users and Teagasc targets.
* Don’t use big tractors for small tasks, and eliminate unnecessary tasks.
* Assess the cost of extra fuel when renting parcels of land at a distance from base.
* Select farming systems which minimise the cost of fuel. For example, pick-up wagons use a third less fuel than precision chop machines, and ploughing for reseeding uses twice as much fuel as surface seeding to 2.5in.
* Match the tractor to the tasks.
* Select machines carefully. There is a big difference in fuel consumption between similar type tractors, find out specific fuel consumption figures from an independent OECD test.
A difference of 12% could save €1,500 per year if worked 1,000 hours.
* Drive efficiently, using the economy PTO speed where possible. Avoid aggressive driving.
* Fit large enough tyres to farm vehicles, and ensure you operate at the correct tyre pressures to reduce power loss.
* Tractors are much heavier on diesel than trucks, so don’t use tractors unnecessarily for road use.
* Jeeps are generally up to 100% less economical than cars, so to maximise savings, use the family car where possible.