Energy Savers
Dry Tropics

Ayr Sugar Cane Farm

Proposed
56
Energy Savings
27.9
Savings
15,241
Industry
Cane
Irrigation
Flood
Pumps
Bore, Submersible, Turbine, Centrifugal
Technology
Irrigation, Pump upgrade, Tariffs
Capital Cost
$56,850

Farm Profile

Cane production typically relies on energy for pumping and irrigation which is linked to the soil type, rainfall distribution and severity of dry periodsAs a result, there can be variability in Tonnes of cane harvested per hectare, per annumA recent energy savers audit looked at ways to reduce energy consumption and costs as well as improve productivity by increasing water delivery with assistance from automation in a 128 ha cane farm producing on average 130tc/ha in the Townsville region.

A 128ha cane farm producing on average 130tc/ha in the Townsville region could reduce consumption and costs while improving production by implementing recommendations in a recent Energy Savers Audit, with a total capital cost of $56,850. 

Cane production typically relies on energy for pumping and irrigation which is linked to the soil type, rainfall distribution and severity of dry periodsAs a result, there can be variability in Tonnes of cane harvested per hectare, per annumA recent energy savers audit looked at ways to reduce total energy consumption by 56% and costs as well as improve productivity by increasing water delivery with assistance from automation. The use of new efficient bore will relieve a secondary pump of work and allow more water to be applied over the current cropping area. Emission savings have been estimated as 27.9t CO2-e per year.

The farm currently operates using obsolete Tariff 66with three pumps that consume 61,324kWh per annum at a cost of $20,696. From the datathe farm produced 16,640 tonnes of cane using 3.68kWh per tonne at the recent harvest 

A quick win found in the tariff review showed that the site could save $6,186 per annum immediately by moving to Tariff 33 (Load Control) in combination with Tariff 20A (Time of Use). 

 Table 1. Current pumping system and costs savings by changing tariffs. 

Pump  Energy Consumption (kWh)  Current Cost Tariff 66 ($)  Moving to Tariff 33 and 20 ($) 
One (22.38kW) 

20,120 

7,140 

4,769 

Two (16.65kW) 

29,030 

8,571 

6,657 

Three (18.65kW) 

12,174 

4,985 

3,084 

Total 

61,324 

20,696 

14,510 

 

With tariff savings in mind, the farms focus is increasing the efficiency of the pumping system. The audit showed pumps 1 & 2 to be efficient, though recommended to replace the existing well with a high yielding boreIf these changes were made, energy savings of 7,915 kWh and $2,374.50 per year could be realised, based on the current water consumption. The new bore will also improve the system capacity to deliver more water resulting in the potential to increase yield over the 51.65ha while providing relief to the other two pumps. 

 Table 2. Audit recommendations with potential energy and cost savings. 

Recommendation  Cost to Implement ($)  Energy Savings (kWh)  Cost Savings ($)  Payback Period
(years)
Emission Savings
(tCO2-e) 
Replace High yielding bore, pump motor and VFD  44,850 7,915  2,374  18.9  6.4 
Automation  12,000 3,698  1,109  10.8 
Install both recommendations with an addition of 200ML of water  56,850 34,471  15,241  3.7  27.9 

The audit also identified that automation would be relatively simple, as much of the infrastructure is in place, and only three pumps to operate. reduction of 10-20% in water use has been estimated if automation using smart sensors were to be introduced as less energy is required for pumping with the device operating according to soil moisture measurements. This also has the potential to increase crop yields using a choice of irrigation scheduling tools. Additional benefits of automation include reductions in labour, fuel, vehicle repairs and maintenance.  

Automation will provide the benefits above plus enable easier management of peak/off peak tariff changes under Tariff 22A24, or inconsistent supply, which can be experienced using Tariff 33.  

By replacing the well with a high yielding bore and increasing the amount pumped by 200 ML per annum the savings increase substantially due to an increase in profit from higher yields as result of an increase in tonnes of cane produced. The payback period would be reduced to from 13.5 years to just 3.7 years  from an increase in water deliveryUsing these recommendations, the farm would reduce its kWh per tonne of cane by 56% to 1.61kWh/tc. 

Table 3. Pre and post audit findings (include labour cost reduction of $4900) 

Audit Stage  Energy Consumption (kWh)  Cost ($)  Energy Benchmark (kWh/tc) 
Pre-Audit 

61,324 

20,696 

3.68 

Post Audit 

26,853 

5,455 

1.61 

 

An energy audit is a good investment 

An energy audit is a great way for a business to cut costs resource use and boost productivity. 

An energy auditor will review your past energy bills, your equipment, and the way your business operates. They will show you where you are using excess energy and explain what you can do about it.  Find out about what’s involved in an energy audit HERE. 

See our range of agricultural energy efficiency case studies HERE and subscribe to our bi-monthly energy e-news HERE  

If you have any energy efficiency related questions for the team get in touch at energysavers@qff.org.au. 

 

The Energy Savers Plus Extension Program is delivered in by the Queensland Farmers Federation with support and funding from the Queensland Department of Energy and Public Works.  

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