The project has shown massive irrigation savings.
The project has shown massive irrigation savings. Emma Murray

The solar project showing big irrigation savings for farmers

A BUNDABERG trial could have national and even global ramifications for farmers, saving them money and making life easier.

"Tailored technologies to reduce pumping costs for irrigating farmers are desperately needed, whether the crop be sugarcane, cotton, wheat, canola or small crops,” Dale Holliss, deputy chair of the National Irrigators Council and member of the Energy Consumers Australia Board advisory committee said.

As company secretary of the Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group, Mr Holliss is heading a hybrid solar-grid power supply project that is already showing outstanding results - a reduction in irrigator electricity costs by 73 per cent.

"The project has, during the trials to date, quite literally reduced the pumping cost from $116 per megalitre to $23.14. That's a massive cost saving for any farmer,” he said.

The Adapting Renewable Energy Project is funded by the Federal Government's Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The three-year project closes in 2020, and the project team is able to present compelling results and opportunities that could benefit all farming operations dependent on bulk water usage.

And the benefits are not limited to cost savings.

"This project is in line with global thinking around sustainable production of food and fibre, and maximising use of the natural resource of sunlight, of which Australia has ample supplies,” Mr Holliss said.

"This hybrid technology will empower irrigating farmers to water to suit their crops, not to fit in with power tariffs,” he said.

"It also has a major value add - it is putting long-awaited lifestyle choices into irrigated farming.

"The system can be operated remotely, via a mobile phone or other smart device. A farmer can be at home in their living room, or on holiday, and still be able to turn their pumps on and off.”

The farm on which the solar-grid power project is being trialled just outside Bundaberg is owned by the Killer family.

Josh Killer said the project had already delivered enormous benefits to his operations, and he would continue with it after the project finished.

"Our farm management strategy is no longer constrained by energy costs, and we are much more able and willing to irrigate according to crop need rather than worrying about the enormous expense of turning on the pumps,” he said.

Interested parties can get a look at the trial site on May 15.

For more details or to book head to https://bit.ly/2VHmxXv



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