Piggery turns to solar power

Piggery turns to solar power


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PAVING THE WAY: Edson Piggery owner Brett Edson is set to have a solar system installed on his property, with the piggery set to be one of the first in Australia to derive all its energy requirements from renewable energy.

PAVING THE WAY: Edson Piggery owner Brett Edson is set to have a solar system installed on his property, with the piggery set to be one of the first in Australia to derive all its energy requirements from renewable energy.

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Edson Piggery, Tepko, is set to install a solar system that will generate enough energy to power the entire farm, slashing power bills and cutting emissions.

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Leading the way with low emission sustainable pork production, Edson Piggery, Tepko, is set to install a solar system that will generate enough energy to power the entire farm, slashing power bills and cutting emissions.

The solar system will be installed between July and October by Off-Grid Energy Australia, and will include a ground-mounted solar array with a capacity to generate about 85 kilowatts of instant energy at any given time of constant sunshine, and a total battery capacity of 496 kilowatt hours.

An inverter to manage all aspects of the system's battery recharge and power distribution across the property will also be installed.

A $450,000 Coles Nurture Fund grant will pay for the system, but Edson Piggery owner Brett Edson said installing solar on his farm was something he would have liked to do at some point, even if he had not received the grant.

With the way things are going these days, people are concerned where there food is coming from. - BRETT EDSON

Mr Edson said solar power was a good renewable energy choice for piggeries, due to the timing of peak power requirements.

"As the day heats up, fans are ramped up to control the temperature in sheds, so it will work well with the solar power," he said.

"Through the day the solar will run the piggery and charge all the batteries, then overnight the batteries will run."

Mr Edson said he knew of a few other piggeries that had solar systems installed, but none of them had battery capabilities as well.

At the moment, the property's electricity is supplied via a single wire earth return line, and they have had issues with supply interruptions.

"This (new system) will be a reliable power source, and we'll have even more power," he said.

Going solar will cut carbon emissions on the farm by an estimated 67 tonnes per year, with the decreased carbon footprint expected to be viewed favourably by consumers.

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"I certainly think it's a help, with the way things are going these days, people are concerned where there food is coming from," Mr Edson said.

Based on electricity prices, going solar is predicted to lead to an annual energy bill saving of $27,000 for the piggery, with Mr Edson expecting extra savings due to a decreased reliance on diesel.

"Our feedmill is currently run off a generator, but will run off solar, so we'll be saving $14,000 a year on diesel," he said.

While the majority of operating costs were feed related due to the majority of fodder being externally sourced, Mr Edson said the savings would allow for further growth.

The 500 sow piggery has expanded from 100 breeding sows when the Edsons began farming in the 1980s.

"It would be nice to keep expanding in the future," he said.

NEW SILOS TO BOOST FEED SECURITY IN DRY

The grain storage capabilities of Edson Piggery, Tepko, are set to be boosted, with three 90-tonne silos to be installed on the Edson family's property.

The silos will be bought as part of the Coles Nurture Fund grant the piggery received.

Mr Edson said 90 per cent of feed was externally sourced, with the property sowing a combined 200 hectares of barley and peas.

With grain supply being unreliable during drought, Mr Edson was looking forward to being able to store more feed on-site.

"We'll have the feed here on-hand, so we'll know we've secured it."

Every silo you get helps a bit more. - BRETT EDSON

The increased storage capacity meant grain could be bought whenever prices were best, to be used when required.

The silos will be delivered in November, and will store grain bought at harvest this year.

"Grain is in short supply, and if you can get it during harvest that's the best time you can buy it," Mr Edson said.

Mr Edson bought in grain earlier this year, which he said was more expensive than last season's harvest price.

At the moment the piggery has 1200t of grain storage, and Mr Edson said he intended to expand even further.

"Every silo you get helps a bit more," he said.

The pigs are fed a diet of wheat, barley, lupins and peas, and Mr Edson said this would not change despite the increased storage capacity.

The animals were housed in a combination of environmentally controlled sheds and straw-based shelters.

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