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Rein In Energy Use

February 24, 2014
By: Wyatt Bechtel, Dairy Today google + 
Freestall lighting   edit
Even though Prairie­land Dairy uses open sidewall barns, a change in lighting fixtures will save the farm $6,700 annually.   

Audits identify where savings can be made in your operation

Every producer has felt the crunch—bills get piled up, making the margins for profitability razor thin. Eliminating some of those expenses is an excellent way to increase these margins and keep cash at the dairy.

Energy use is a great place to target because it is easy to control since usage is measurable.

On the average U.S. dairy, energy accounts for $29,000 in annual spending, says Nicole DelSasso, a farm energy efficiency manager at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

DelSasso shared her thoughts about energy use and the importance of getting an energy audit at the recent I-29 Dairy Conference in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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Through an energy audit that DelSasso performed at Prairieland Dairy in Nebraska, the operators identified areas to improve and a total estimated savings of approx­imately $19,000 per year.

The audit targeted various solutions, such as using a low-temperature detergent, installing an electric meter at a different rate, replacing lights as they go bad and replacing manure irrigation engines with electric motors.

"These are the types of things that are outlined in the audit that identify savings opportunities," DelSasso says.

For instance, at Prairieland, there was $6,700 per year in savings on lighting upgrades alone.

"It was good to go through this energy audit to bring it to the fore­front of all of our employees and management team," says Dan Rice, Prairieland’s general manager.

The energy audit broke down energy use by month and into percentages of what the energy is used for. Lighting accounted for 20% of electricity use, ventilation was 36% and milk cooling was 6%.

"It really did a nice job of breaking it down so we could see where we are spending our money on electricity and where we can focus to be more efficient," says Rice, who was noteably impressed with the results.

Those types of changes can easily be communicated to customers.

"Consumers want to know this, and it’s bragging rights on your farm," DelSasso adds. "It is something we can talk about, and it is something that everyone can relate to."

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FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - March 2014
RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Technology, Sustainability

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