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Energy Smart Farming

The inaugural Teagasc National Agricultural Energy Efficiency Conference will take place on Thursday 6 December, at the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Shane McEntee TD will open proceedings to what promises to be and interesting and educational day for farmers. The conference is jointly organised by Teagasc, SEAI, Farming Independent and Macra na Feirme.

The emergence of buzzwords such as “Sustainable Agriculture” as a key strategic European issue means that it is no longer enough to say that we are a natural and green; island in our food marketing campaigns. The challenge now facing Irish agriculture is to proactively go to the market and actively demonstrate and prove just how ‘Green and Natural’ we are.

Introducing fuel saving measures can play a significant part in reducing input costs and improving farm profitability. Fuel consumption can vary from 60 to 120 litres per hectare depending on the way you work. There are a number of common areas where energy is wasted in farming enterprises and Teagasc Advisers will examine what could be done to reduce costs in these areas.

Teagasc Bioenergy Specialist Barry Caslin said: “Beyond energy efficiency, renewable energy from biomass, wind, water or the sun can make a real contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while bringing a wide range of benefits to businesses including reducing reliance on fossil fuels, potentially lowering energy bills, and improving your ‘green’ credentials”. The conference will examine the potential of renewable technologies such as heat pumps, solar PV, wind turbines in displacing fossil fuel and providing energy especially for our more intensive businesses.

Microgeneration units have been installed on a number of farms around the country. SEAI’s Ivan Sproule will discuss eligible installations which include small scale wind, photovoltaic, hydro and combined heat and power. The energy efficiency conference will hear whether the guaranteed microgeneration rates were enough to encourage investment in microgeneration and deliver its associated benefits.

Des Murphy from Kovara will discuss the overall costs of the various technologies trying to sum up whether the technologies are indeed cost effective for Irish agriculture. Candelas lighting will talk about the most efficient forms of agricultural lighting and Codex Ltd will outline heat pump options for poultry and pig units.