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Save energy & moneyAgribusiness › Energy saving tips

Save energy, increase profits

As a farmer, you want to reduce your input costs and increase your outputs. Energy efficient farming practices can help you do both. Below are some practical energy saving tips that could make a big difference to your bottom line.

Water heating

No cost options

  • Maintenance
    Maintain your water heating systems – inspect them regularly, repair leaks and fix dripping taps.
  • Temperature
    Set thermostats to the right temperature – overheating water is costly.
  • Hot wash
    Reduce your dairy shed hot wash to once a day. (Check with your dairy company, MAF, or chemical rep first to ensure you can still obtain maximum milk quality.)

Low cost options

  • Insulation
    Insulate hot water pipes. If your hot water cylinder is warm to touch, install insulation wrap.
  • Timers
    Install timers to heat water only when required or to take advantage of off-peak pricing.

Options requiring some investment

  • Cylinder size
    Choose the right sized hot water cylinder for the job. Place hot water cylinders in a sheltered place on the sunny side of the shed.
  • Heat recovery
    Install a heat exchange system like Boost, which chills milk while generating hot water. Read more about Boost.>

 

Irrigation

No cost options

  • Maintenance
    Inspect irrigation systems regularly – repair leaks, blockages and worn sprinklers or nozzles. Contact us for a simple five-step guide on how to check the performance of your spray irrigation system.
  • Gravity
    Where possible use gravity-fed supply to reduce pumping needs.
  • Weather
    Avoid irrigating in windy or very hot conditions – it’s less efficient.
  • Night rates
    Irrigate at night to take advantage of reduced evaporation and off-peak electricity rates.
  • Less is more
    Irrigate little and often. Use a soil moisture monitoring system to ensure soil moisture remains between stress point and field capacity.
  • Root system
    Target irrigation at the active root zone, not below it.

Low cost options

  • Measure
    Install water flow meters and rain gauges to measure water usage and rainfall. This will help manage your irrigation and water consents more efficiently.
  • Efficient motor
    Upgrade to a more efficient irrigation pump motor to reduce running costs.
  • Pump size
    Ensure pumps are the correct size and capacity for your requirements, so they are operating at their highest efficiency and you’re not paying for capacity you don’t need.
  • Variable speed drive
    Install variable speed drives on pump motors to even out the load – especially where there are significant changes in elevation.

Options requiring some investment

  • Moisture monitoring
    Consider installing soil moisture monitors to avoid unnecessary irrigation and identify effective irrigation patterns. See Irrigation New Zealand for information about professional services.
  • Variable-rate irrigation
    Variable-rate irrigation allows exactly the right amount of water to be applied to specific areas under a centre-pivot or linear-move irrigator, saving on water and pumping costs (providing a variable speed drive is also installed). Visit Precision Irrigation for further information.

 

Lighting

No cost options

  • Switch off
    Turn off lights when you leave the shed.
  • Natural light
    Take advantage of natural light – use clear sheets of corrugated perspex for roofing. 
  • Clean
    Regularly clean lights – dirt and dust can reduce light output by 30%.

Low cost options

  • Efficient bulbs
    Replace your old incandescent lights with more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Sensors
    Install motion and daylight sensors outside lights and in low-use areas.

 

Refrigeration

No cost options

  • Maintenance
    Keep refrigeration systems well maintained – clean and repair fins, fix any leaks and worn seals, and keep condenser coils clean. 
  • Insulation
    Insulate your vat and pipes, especially those located outside.
  • Ventilation
    Keep your refrigeration system well ventilated and located in a shady place.
  • Heat recovery
    Install a heat exchange system like Boost, which chills milk while generating hot water. Read more about Boost.

 

Mechanical Equipment

No cost options

  • Switch off
    Reduce motor idle time by identifying motors running but not in production.
  • Maintenance
    Regularly maintain your mechanical equipment – ensure belts and chains are tensioned correctly, and keep filters clean.
  • Off-peak rates
    Run effluent pumps at night to take advantage of off-peak rates.

Low cost options

  • Drive type
    Investigate changing the drive type and gear ratios to reduce energy use.
  • Stray voltage
    Increase milk production by eliminating stray voltage. Read more about stray voltage.

Options requiring some investment

  • Drive controls
    Install control systems and variable speed drives (such as Varivac) to increase efficiency.

 

Farm buildings

No cost options

  • Free solar power
    Clean your greenhouse glass to make the most of natural solar heating.
  • Natural ventilation
    In livestock barns, take advantage of natural ventilation.
  • Clean fans
    Keep ventilation fans clean to increase efficiency.

Low cost options

  • Greenhouse seals
    Increase greenhouse effectiveness by fixing broken panes and checking seals around doors, pipes and ventilators.