Ashburton farmer targets savings after free energy review

Ashburton farmer targets savings after free energy review

“You should always be looking to make whatever savings you can,
even if you’re really profitable – every penny saved is great
news.  But dairy farmers are up against it these days, and
it’s more important than ever that we look at every way we can
possibly find to cut costs.”

These are the words of south Devon dairy farmer Patrick Cock,
who has recently taken advantage of the free Resource Efficiency
for Farmers (R4F) scheme to find out how he can cut his power and
water bills and improve waste management.

As he says, Ashburton-based Younghouse Farm is “a typical family
business.”  When Patrick’s parents founded the business 47
years ago, it was a mixed farm, but over the years, growth and
specialisation has seen it evolve into a large-scale, intensive
dairy farm producing 6 million litres of milk from its 1500 acres
and 600 cows. 

R4F, which is delivered by Business Link’s Rural team across the
South West, involves a detailed review of the farm by a specialist
consultant, who then creates a tailored action plan. 
Depending on the consultant’s findings, the farm is then eligible
to apply for a small capital grant from the South West RDA to help
implement recommended changes.

According to Patrick, “The consultant did his job superbly, and
got me thinking hard about what we could do here.  I found
that the discipline involved of having a meeting really got the
brain working; it was incredibly useful, we looked for and found
water leaks we didn’t know about, and developed ideas to help us
monitor our power consumption.”

Among the items discussed at the visit was the energy usage at
milking. “In the parlour we’ve been using the same pump system to
milk our cows three times a day for 18 years or so, and I thought
it was time to look at my options.”

The big saving identified in the review will, in fact, be
achieved through the purchase of new vacuum pumps for milking,
which will be greatly more energy-efficient that the equipment
Patrick is currently using.  As he says, “Having had the
review, I am eligible for a capital grant to help buy the pump
which I’m planning to apply for in the very near future.”

This is far from being change for change’s sake.  As
Patrick says, “Farmers don’t tend to like change much. But like it
or not, things are changing. For example, power’s only going to get
more expensive.  What’s more, retailers are already wanting to
know more and more about what farmers are doing to make their
operations as green as possible, and will base their buying
decisions on what they learn.