On typical farms
The highest energy consumption on typical farms varies by type of enterprise. Machinery supporting milk cooling comprises the greatest element of energy use in dairy farming (25%), followed by milking production and lighting (17%), with crop storage and cultivation the greatest consumers of energy on arable farms. On livestock farms forage production and silage are the most energy intense activities.
On pig farms, heating, followed by ventilation and lighting comprise the largest sources of energy consumption. Poultry farms use the majority of their energy on lighting, feeder machinery and ventilation.
Reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency
Reducing energy use was once about simply switching lights and equipment off. While that is still vitally important, new technology and other advances mean there are myriad steps every farmer can take to save energy. See below for some measures any farm can take, and read on for more specialised advice by farm type.
Steps any farm can take:
While there are sophisticated steps you can take to use energy more efficiently, the first step should always be to save energy, so consider installing motion sensors in offices and different 'zones' in large spaces like storage sheds, so you're only using lighting when required. You don't need to light a whole space if you're only using one part of it. Depending on the farming sector, reducing lighting can save 15% of typical energy use.
Track your usage using energy monitors and accurate record keeping. Wireless energy monitors are now widely available and easy to install, and provide information on how much energy you are using, and how much it is costing, in real time and over specific periods, for example by week or month. If there are unexplained changes this may be due to machinery malfunctioning and allows for an 'early warning' to take steps to respond. This allows energy use to be tracked and compared, illustrates the effect energy saving measures are having and gives better control over and awareness of, costs.
You can buy monitors and meters online at:http://jdmetering.co.uk/smart-meters.html, and at similar sites.
Want more info?
Click on the links below to take you to sector specific information for different farm enterprises.
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Find out more about where energy is typically consumed on-farm and where you may be able to save costs.