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Reports can help improve efficiency
12:07pm Tuesday 31st July 2012 in Farming
GILLIAN REID, pictured, SAC consultant, said farmers should view carbon reports as an efficiency report on their farming system that could bring real financial benefits.
She said they could result in better prices for products such as milk, beef and lamb – and possibly better contracts as buyers seek to reduce their own carbon footprints.
All livestock produce methane gases but, contrary to popular belief, this was mostly through the mouth through belching and digestive processes rather than their rear end.
Carbon reports were mostly done on a whole farm basis, but could also be done on specific enterprises.
The host farm, was a specialist dairy unit with carbon dioxide equivalents of 0.94kg per litre of milk produced or 11.57kg based on per kg of milk solids.
This compared favourably with the UK average carbon foot print of 1.3kg per adjusted litre, she said.
Among the options for farmers to look at were:
- Optimum use of fertilisers and manures which could save pounds on buying in bagged fertiliser;
- Looking at energy use – the re-use of water from the plate cooler at Lords Plain saved an average of £500 a year in water charges;
- Record fuel use and use the information to increase efficiency;
- Not using tractors more powerful than necessary, checking tyre pressures, regular servicing and not leaving machinery to idle when left;
- Improved livestock management with better health planning and feed usage.
Jim Campbell, of SAC, said falling costs of solar panels were offsetting reduced Feed-in-Tariff’s and making them a viable proposition once again.
However, with “payback”
of up to 14 years they were really an option for the relatively young and, after that time, they were likely to yield a good return.
Running costs were low with the panels themselves having a projected life of 25 years with efficiency dropping to about 80 per cent over that time.
It was also likely the inverter would need to be replaced after ten years at a cost of about £2,000.
He estimated a six to eight per cent return on investment, including five per cent interest on capital invested. A 25kWh scheme was likely to cost about £35,000.
Wind energy was another possibility, but he felt some estimated of payback over nine years were over optimistic.
It was more likely to be in the teens. There could also be planning issues.
Mr Campbell believed anaerobic digesters were unlikely to be an option for handling dairy slurry alone, and said the north-west was unlikely to offer suitable sites for hydro electric generators.