Climate variability drives on farm innovation

Nov 23, 2015

A concerted effort to reduce power costs and dairy’s environmental footprint is seeing increasing numbers of Australian producers implement more efficient, ‘green’ on farm practices.

In Athlone, Gippsland former mechanical engineer and seventh generation dairy farmer, Lindsay Anderson is harnessing solar energy to the benefit of reduced on-farm costs. Converting all his large single-phase motors to three-phase motors using variable speed drives as phase converters, Mr Anderson has implemented renewable technology throughout his business. He devised a 5 kilo-watt grid-connected solar system which supplies power to his automatic milking system, his workshop and farm house.

This system provides enough power to feedback through the grid for a payment each quarter – providing some additional income for Mr Anderson.

“This system can save me between 15 to 33% of electricity consumption,” Mr Anderson said. 

It also means there is even less diesel used on the property so the environment will also be better off.

According to dairy’s 2014 Sustainability Framework Progress Report, Mr Anderson is one of many dairy farmers adopting energy efficient procedures on farm. Since 2012 40% of farms have installed some form of renewable energy installation.

Chair of the Sustainability Framework Steering Committee, Chris Griffin said that dairy producers have always been stewards of the land, and are constantly getting smarter about energy efficiency on farm.

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations. They are constantly reviewing their practices in response to seasonal conditions and a changing climate,” said Mr Griffin.

“As a bonus, many farmers are finding that these measures are cost effective.”

Working with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and Dairy Australia, the ADIC has lobbied hard to secure Government funding to support uptake of energy efficient technology on farm. Combined with industry investment, Federal and state programs have assisted farmers and manufacturers with the upfront capital costs in energy efficient or renewable energy technology, and therefore increased uptake.

The dairy industry has seen the benefit of such co-funded initiatives through Dairy Australia and the Federal Government’s Energy Efficiency Information Program. These nationwide assessments have already helped 1,400 farms. Guidelines have also been developed to complement these assessments and provide information about where energy is used in dairies, as well as identify where greater efficiency can be found.

In two years since the Sustainability Framework was implemented, manufacturers’ use of fuel and electricity has reduced by 14.5%. Together, the whole value chain is vigorously pursuing its target of reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020.

“We will continue with programs and projects that are guiding the industry toward improved returns, while minimising our environmental footprint and improving the wellbeing of our people and animals,” Mr Griffin explained.

“There is still work to be done, but we are most definitely headed in the right direction.”

Earlier this year, ADF shifted its climate change policy, calling for joint industry and government investment in adopting energy efficient technologies on farm. Chair of the ADF Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group, Daryl Hoey said the revised policy highlights to Parliament, consumers and the broader community that the industry remains actively engaged in reducing its environmental impact.

“The scientific evidence, international policy, and public interest in increased climate variability justify industry action. Our whole value chain strives to continually reduce its environmental footprint, through uptake of new technologies, improved management and adoption of farming systems to suit climate variability,”

“The Australian Government can promote the industry’s effective response to climate variability through sustained investment in agriculture R, D&E and the uptake of energy efficient technologies on farm.”

This includes new solutions that both reduce emissions and improve profitability, international research collaboration, and methodologies that support a whole-farm-systems approach in reducing emissions.

“The Australian dairy industry is keenly observing the Government’s response to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris this December,” Mr Hoey said.

“We are aware the outcomes of this event may impact the Australian Government’s approach to emissions reduction policy. We want to ensure any policy initiatives do not undermine our trade exposed industry, but instead support dairy farmers’ ability to manage risk, innovate and adapt to climate variability.”

For more information on ADF's policy on carbon emissions and climate change click here

Consuming with Care: The Dairy Way

Jun 05, 2015

Producing more from less is a constant theme on Australian dairy farms. From reusing water in the milking shed, to ensuring the pasture our cows graze on can be effectively turned into milk, efficiency is the number one buzz word on farm.

Consuming resources with care underpins everything we do on farm because we know it will ensure the sustainability of our businesses, our industry and our planet in the decades to come.

This year on World Environment Day, June 5, the United Nations will reinforce the importance of consuming with care. Whether it be adopting renewable energy systems on farm or switching off the lights at the power switch, our individual decisions and actions count towards a larger goal of preserving not only the environment but the well being of humanity and our economies.

On June 5, Australian dairy will stand proud on its continuing commitment to minimising our environmental footprint as part of dairy’s broader commitment to establishing a more sustainable dairy industry. This commitment is recognised and promoted through the industry’s Sustainability Framework.

Demonstrating the interdependent nature of dairy’s profitability, well being and natural resource management, the Sustainability Framework shows the progress dairy has made thus far as well as acknowledging the work left to do by 2020.

On-farm examples of sustainable practices abound. South Australian share farmers, Andy Vickers and Belinda Wright soil tested 20 farm paddocks and were able to reduce application of phosphorus fertiliser to about one-third, meaning big cost savings, less nutrient runoff, reducing green house gas emissions and better environmental outcomes.

Overall, the industry’s Fert$mart nutrient management initiative has helped farmers, including 120 in recent months throughout Tasmania, Gippsland and South Australia, to achieve on average, a savings of approximately $12,000 per farm.

On King Island, a group of nine dairy farmers co-ordinated the installation of solar hot water systems for dairy sheds, an innovation making the most of renewable energy sources and also forecast to cut hot water costs by up to 50%.

From these grand scale projects to the everyday actions, all dairy farmers play an important role in creating a sustainable Australian dairy industry and consuming our resources with care. This includes everything from monitoring electricity consumption and equipment performance and having some level of automated irrigation to manage water use efficiently, to feeding cows a high quality diet to increase milk production and reduce green house gas emissions.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has been advocating for the Federal Government’s continued funding towards energy efficiency programs, as well as enduring investment in R,D&E in the Government’s consideration of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions targets and policy.

Working with Dairy Australia, ADF has lobbied for nationwide funding for free energy efficiency assessments for dairy farmers that has already helped 1,200 farms – with another 200 due for completion by June 2015.

Supportive policy could assist farmers in tackling rising energy costs, while also contributing to the dairy industry’s – and Australia’s more broadly – environmental sustainability. We’re committed to ensuring Australian dairy’s voice is heard through government policies that support our industry, however there are many areas where we can already act to make a difference. 

 

Our post-2020 greenhouse gas emissions target

May 07, 2015

In advance of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris between 30 November and 11 December 2015, Australian dairy has made its voice heard in Australia’s contribution to the new global climate agreement which will set the emissions reduction target beyond 2020.

Through an Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) submission made to Government in April, we are advocating for emissions reduction policies which will support the industry - not hinder it. In particular, we are seeking policies that are:

  • Aligned with our major international competitors;
  • Recognised as an emissions intensity approach that allows dairy to continue to grow while reducing its carbon footprint; and
  • Underpinned by Government policy and actions to promote and support the dairy industry’s contribution towards greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Our submission advocated for two key areas of Government support: investment in research, development and extension for on-farm emissions reduction; and support for energy productivity and efficiency. These policy settings are essential to ensuring Australian dairy remains competitive in the international market, our emissions intensity is reduced and we are well aligned for growth.

The ADIC attended a roundtable meeting with the Minister in early May and will continue to seek Government support through Australia’s international commitment to help drive innovation and reduce emissions, while also increasing productivity and profitability.

To read the ADIC’s submission on Australia’s Post-2020 Emissions Target Reduction, click here.

 

Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Report: How we’re tracking

Dec 08, 2014

The Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework outlines the industry’s commitment to enhance livelihoods, improve wellbeing and reduce our environmental footprint.


To ensure dairy is recognised worldwide as a responsible, responsive and prosperous producer of nutritious food, the Framework sets 11 economic, social and environmental targets to be achieved by the year 2020.


The second Sustainability Framework Progress Report is due to be released in December to benchmark how the industry is tracking towards achieving these targets, including supporting case studies to back these findings.



The ADF Update had the opportunity to preview some of the report’s preliminary findings, which can be found below.

ü  14.5% reduction in volume of green house gas emissions intensity generated by dairy manufacturers’ use of fuel and electricity since 2010/11 – a 30% reduction is the target set by 2020.

ü  46% of on-farm and factory workers now have a documented occupational health and safety (OH&S) plan – by 2020, the framework aims for 100% to have completed OH&S training.

ü  56% of farmers are aware of a new set of animal welfare standards and guidelines for cattle that have been developed – whilst yet to be legislated, the industry seeks 100% compliance with the guidelines’ standards by 2020.

ü  10.5% reduction in water consumption since 2010/11 – a 20% reduction by 2020 is the target set for the manufacturing sector.

ü  44.5% reduction in waste to landfill by manufacturers since 2010/11, which has already met and exceeded the target of a 40% reduction by 2020.


Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework Steering Committee Chair, Chris Griffin said the 2014 Progress Report provides evidence the dairy industry is committed to delivering mutually beneficial outcomes for the community and the environment.


“The Report demonstrates the benefits of the value chain working together to help create value for our industry, our customers and the community,” Mr Griffin said.


“Built on existing industry activities, we hope it will provide guidance to farmers, dairy companies and industry bodies on achieving our shared priorities and commitments."


To view the 2014 Progress Report online, stay tuned to www.australiandairyfarmers.com.au over the coming week.

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