Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scaring the tripe out of dairy farmers

"Dairy farm families will be slugged $4200 by the Carbon Tax, says ABARES" This is how the media reported it, but ABARES said nothing like it in its report "Possible short-run effects of a carbon pricing scheme on Australian agriculture". This is the worst case scenario. It is based on processors passing on 100% of their cost increases to farmers, which they can't and won't do, according to Fonterra, one of the biggest. Before both processors and farmers take action to reduce their electricity usage, the impact could be as low as just over $1000, says the ABARES report. "In most cases, any cost increases from a carbon pricing scheme will be shared along the supply chain between farmers, processors, wholesalers and retailers, exporters and final consumers," it says. Fonterra confirmed this in October when general manager for sustainability Francois Joubert said the company will wear its own increased power costs as best it can, without passing those on to suppliers. "It's increasingly difficult for us to pass costs on to our markets, to our customers; it's also difficult to pass costs on to our suppliers. We are in a very competitive milk supply environment and so therefore it's our job to mitigate increased costs within the business and that's our intention."
There are many opportunities for dairy enterprises to reduce energy consumption. Heating and cooling are major energy cost centres, and one farmer reports reducing these costs by 30% following the advice in a report published by Fonterra: What Does A Carbon Price Mean For You? In it the company lists many ways to save electricity costs.

We list them here to help dairy farmers have a happier Christmas.

Milk cooling
• Insulate the vat, pipes and spaces underneath the vat
• Check and repair any leaks in refrigeration system
• Pre-cool milk as much as possible before placing into milk vat
• Monitor plate cooler performance by checking actual milk temperature against set point temperature and ensure it is sized correctly for milk flow
• Check pre-cooler inlet filter and water flow to ensure volume is adequate and constant
• Check and clean the fins on condensing unit of refrigeration plant and ensure good airflow around the unit
• Service the plate cooler and refrigeration unit regularly – at least annually
• Consider the source of pre-cooler water and whether it is cold enough.

Cleaning systems
• Talk to your supplier about new cleaning technologies and chemical improvements.
• Install heat and chemical recovery systems.

• Use energy efficient globes
• Turn off lights when not in use – use natural light when possible
• Repair defective light fittings
• Install automatic light sensors if suitable
• Consider installing low watt fluorescent lights.

Water and effluent pumps
• Although water management and pumping technology is often automated, significant electricity savings can be made by checking this equipment
• Check there are no leaks or pressure loss points
• Choose appropriately sized hoses and nozzles to minimise wash down time
• Size pipes correctly to capacity of pumps
• Install the most energy efficient pump available.

Vacuum pumps
• Only run the vacuum pump when needed
• Check belts and pulleys are correctly tensioned and any replacements match
• Install a Variable Speed Drive (VSD) linked to your motor’s vacuum requirements
• Rotary vanes or lobe pumps with variable speed drives may also be suitable
replacements for a water ring pump
• Look for the most energy efficient model available.

Energy sourcing
• Shop around for the best priced electricity supplier. You could make significant savings just by asking your current supplier or changing retailers
• Use off-peak power when possible
• Consider solar, wind and other alternative energy sources if available in your area.

Water heating
• Consider solar or gas water systems to heat or pre-heat water
• Heat water only when required – not all day and night
• Check water is not boiling in the cylinder
• Check thermostat settings monthly to ensure good performance
• Compare the temperature of the outlet water with the thermostat to ensure water is not overheated
• Regularly check the element anodes for corrosion – replace if needed
• Regularly check the pipe and cylinder for leaks – repair or replace if required
• Insulate the hot water system (both cylinder and discharge lines)
• Size all systems to appropriate load size and minimise unused capacity
• Install heat recovery equipment to capture heat generated by milk refrigeration systems. Examples of such heat exchange systems have cut heating and cooling costs by 30 per cent.

Happy Christmas!

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