13 Feb 2012

Strong farmer support expected for energy programme

6:57 am on 13 February 2012

Fonterra is expecting strong farmer support for rolling out a programme aimed at reducing their energy costs.

A pilot project tried out on 150 dairy farms last season identified ways that farmers could cut their dairy shed energy costs by an average of 10% a year.

Audits of participating farms covered energy used in water heating, milk cooling and vats, pumps, lighting, irrigation and effluent systems.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, one of the partners in the project, wants to extend the programme.

Fonterra's sustainable production manager John Hutchings says in view of the enthusiastic response from farmers who took part in the pilot, it will be looking to set up an energy auditing system that all farmers can use.

He says Fonterra did a follow up survey which showed that 80% of respondents found the audit highly valuable and a quarter of the recommendations made in the report were adopted straight away.

Mr Hutchings says about 42% said they would implement them within three years.

He says the average dairy farmer spends about $14,000 a year on electricity so cost saving is the real driver.

Mr Hutchings says the cost of the audit is an issue, but if this can be brought down to about $500, then the uptake should be good.