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Free, comprehensive guide to farm energy saving

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 November 2012 at 9:57 am

Keeping the costs of energy down is a must for most farms, but the challenge is often knowing where to start. As in most businesses it's easy to let the urgent take priority over the important, but as the writers of a detailed new guide to energy efficiency say, if you don't start planning change now you risk being forced to do so later.

Energy in Farming is a thorough look at how to assess the energy efficiency of your farm, and the options available to improve efficiency and save money. Morrisons Farming commissioned the report from Granted Consultancy and you can download a free copy here.

Energy efficiency on farms is important for three reasons according to the report:

1. It saves money in the long run
2. It encourages responsible use of resources
3. The government has targets to meet to reduce greenhouse gases in agriculture by 20% by 2020. If you don't take strategic action now to increase the efficiency of your business, you face the danger of enforced change at a time which may not be convenient to you.

The guide looks in detail at areas where efficiencies can be made for different types of farm business. For example, dairy farmers can look at milk cooling, water heating, vacuum pumping, lighting and field cultivation practices. For poultry farmers heating, ventilation and cooling systems will be important.

It provides guidance about how to do an energy audit on your farm, and figures for typical farms in each sector, so you can see how your figures compare. It suggests ways of measuring so that you are comparing like with like. For example, electricity per kg of beef for beef farmers, or electricity used per cow for dairy.

The guide then outlines the technologies available to help farmers cut costs and to cut emissions, as well as renewable technologies available generate clean electricity and heat. For all options it takes a detailed look at both the benefits and the risks involved. It covers options for finance, and contains a range of detailed case studies of farmers that have already taken action.

The report concludes with a useful set of top tips for success which is applicable to any business:

1. Make sure you understand where a project sits within the long term plan for the business.
2. Don’t believe everything that a salesmen tells you.
3. Research any project thoroughly and consider using sector specialists to provide you with advice and guidance.
4. Do not be a guinea pig or pioneer for new technology – unless you can afford to lose the money you spend.
5. Make sure that any new technology/equipment is compatible with your existing farm infrastructure.
6. Before incurring any significant costs consider if you will be able to raise any finance that you might need to complete a project.
7. Do not be driven by the availability/non availability of grants.
8. Before entering into any larger value contracts consider the financial standing of the supplier – make a credit check if you are not sure.
9. Do not pay out large deposits without knowing what is going to happen to your money.
10. If you need to obtain planning permission engage a professional not on the basis of how much they will charge but on his expertise and the quality of his work.
11. Consider the timeline between the inception and completion of any project.
12. Make sure you know the payment terms with any larger project.
13. Read the small print when it comes to warranties and guarantees on any project.
14. Ask for details of people who have already bought what you are thinking of buying.
Click here to download your free copy of Energy in Farming.

Photo by Cathy

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