Reducing your carbon footprint

Limerick Voice Farming Editor Martin O’Donnell shares the different cost-effective options to reducing your carbon footprint.

Between the cost of fuel, feed, bedding and maintenance, the margins in poultry farming have never been so tight.  The only way to combat this is to change the managerial mindset altogether.  

The vast majority of poultry houses in the country are well over 20 years old, many of which have been kept to a very high standard, and were initially built to a very efficient standard.  But with the rising costs in all area of poultry production since their construction in the early 90’s, more cost-effective measures have to come into play in order to make the industry more lucrative.

There have been a number of advances in recent years that can help reduce both the running costs of the farm and the carbon footprint that it leaves behind.

Most poultry houses use an average of 85 incandescent light bulbs to light up the house, a mixture of 60w and 100w are used.  But it has been proven that incandescent light bulbs, initially cheap costing on average of one euro, end up costing a lot more in the long run.  

These light bulbs are only about 10 percent efficient, with the other 90 percent of the energy creating heat.  Also, incandescent light bulbs have a life expectancy of 1200 hours, which is 50 days of constant use, and are also very fragile which leads to more maintenance.

IFA Poultry Chairman, Nigel Renaghan, spoke with the Limerick Voice about carbon reduction and reducing energy use overall in the poultry industry.

“To help lower the running costs on my farm in Monaghan, I have recently installed a new computer that regulates the ventilation in the poultry house,” he said.

“The hardware that uses up a lot of electricity in the houses has to be the recirculation fan, normally up to nine fans would be working at 20 percent of their capacity to ventilate the houses, but with the new system we have a new fan that is regulated by the computer, this computer receives readings from sensors that are places around the house at certain intervals, and once this fan reaches 100 percent of its capacity it switches off and a supplementary fan cuts in,” he continued.

Another long-term cost reducing option would be micro generator; a small wind turbine.  These are not that uncommon in other parts of Europe and  can even be seen on a number of farms already around the country.  Farmers can erect a small wind turbine on their land to service the needs of the sheds and poultry houses.  Along with the adoption of an aircon based heating system this would reduce and even remove the need for LPG heaters in the houses.

When asked about micro generators, Nigel Renaghan described them as a “great addition to any poultry unit, and expressed the interest that poultry farmers all over the country are already looking into such investments in energy recovery.  

“we already have a young farmer in Monaghan that started in recent years who has opted to install a turbine on his farm to both provide heat and electricity to is poultry unit, and so far it has been a great success for him” said Nigel Renaghan.

The advantages of such a setup is the complete control of energy costs as the farmer is producing their own energy they no longer have to worry about the cost of the next electricity bill.  However,  there would be an added cost of maintaining and servicing the unit.

The obvious downside to a micro generator is the initial setup costs, the price of the unit and the planning involved are not cheap.  Most farms have a single-phase connection (230v); these farms would be able to install a generator that has a limited output of 5.75kW.

For more information on micro-generators click here.

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