As Australian vegetable growers continue to struggle under the weight of rising production costs, an energy audit report on the industry has taken a closer look at power consumption and efficiency.
“Energy costs have practically doubled over the last decade, prompting the industry to take a closer look at the way facilities use energy, and to then use the report to identify inefficiencies and reduce costs,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Tamara Ungar.
The benchmarking data in the report was gathered from a series of 22 audits conducted on vegetable growing farms, by Infotech Research. The study focused on medium and large growing facilities with processing plants.
Facilities producing a wide range of vegetable commodities have been included in this audit, with significant variation in energy consumption more closely related to crops processed than the size of operations.
“A unifying factor regardless of commodities being produced was that growers are very conscious of the rising cost of energy and the impact that this has on the bottom line of their business. The study suggested that the best returns on investment are achieved through prevention of energy losses followed by energy efficiency improvements,” said Ms Ungar.
According to the report, many growers audited were investing in new technologies and equipment to increase efficiency and decrease waste.
“Innovative technologies, such as PV panel systems for solar energy production and LED lighting, are some of the ways that growers are aiming to combat rising energy costs, and to improve efficiency,” said Ms Ungar.
“It is clear that many growers have embraced, or are looking to adopt, measures to improve energy practices at their operations, with the report stating that a reduction in processed waste is a major opportunity for some growers to pursue.”
Key areas for potential reductions in energy demands for the vegetable industry include:
• Diesel plant efficiency
• Refrigeration efficiency
• Cool room energy loss reduction
• Irrigation pump efficiency
• Irrigation system design.
An information sheet outlining key energy saving opportunities from the report is being distributed to growers with the latest addition of Vegetables Australia magazine.
This project is funded by HIA using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.
Posted 19 January 2015