New research from Teagasc on energy use on dairy farms will allow farmers to assess how energy-efficient their dairy operations are and where improvements can be made.
As part of the EU-funded DairyMan project, Teagasc researchers at Solohead aim to provide farmers with benchmark figures for best practice for energy use on dairy farms. Farmers will then be able to compare their own farm against the best practice and average energy use.
"Many farmers are not aware of how much electricity they use for milk cooling, vacuum pumps and other appliances in the dairy because the electricity supply to the parlour is metered on the same unit as the domestic house," explained Teagasc energy expert Barry Caslin.
"Smart metering could play a role on farms, showing farmers where energy is being consumed at particular times of the day," he said.
"Energy monitoring is a key factor in successfully managing energy use."
Mr Caslin highlighted a number of easy ways for farmers to save on energy use in their day-to-day farming activities.
"Field operation savings could be made by having equipment set-up properly, matching the tractor to the machine and addressing practicalities such as ballasting and tyre inflation," he pointed out.
"In the milking parlour, equipment for milk cooling should be properly maintained and a well configured plate cooler should be used," he added.
High efficiency light fittings and insulation of buildings, piping and buffer tanks all help to reduce the energy required on a farm.
"High efficiency motors for feed systems and variable speed drives for milking units should be considered," said Mr Caslin.
"Dairy farmers require heated water for cleaning the bulk tank and washing cows and night rate electricity should certainly be the preferred option on these farms."