A solar-powered irrigation trial near Bundaberg has delivered 70 per cent energy savings for the Killer Family sugarcane farm.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency published a video this week, reporting the success of the trial which began in February 2017.
ARENA awarded funding for a three-year year field trial to demonstrate the economic benefits of using solar energy to power traditional irrigation methods of sugarcane crops.
Speaking in the video, Maurie Haines from Bundaberg Sugar Services, says the trial's success has attracted interest from other sugarcane growers.
“Farmers use a lot of power for irrigation,” Mr Haines says.
“Power has been rising in cost so we approached ARENA to help our growers.
“The project is to trial solar irrigation pumping where energy demand is high. It's about how we save money and improve productivity.”
Mr Haines said there was a social benefit as well, with farmers not having to work through the night to obtain off-peak energy prices.
The system on the Killer Family property generates 82 kilowatts of solar energy.
“It's changed the way we look at watering to do what we should do and not worry about the price,” Mr Killer said.
“It's a renewable resource alright. The sun comes up every day, and to think we're harnessing that to pump water onto the cane is unreal.”
Solar irrigation trial examines:
- A suite of appropriate renewable energy options and irrigation system configurations;
- Appropriate changed farm management practices specifically suited to renewable energy to overcome constraints to adoption;
- Any increases in cane production yield achieved as a function of increased irrigation and renewable energy integration;
- Knowledge and capacity of irrigators to confidently invest in renewable energy to augment irrigation pumping energy requirements used in sugarcane production;
- The financial viability of the concept.