Reducing orchard emissions while cutting electricity bills

Neil and Lynda Boardman operate a 100-acre orchard where they produce oranges for juicing. Spread over two sites, on a property located near Leeton in the NSW Riverina, the orchard is irrigated to ensure the trees are adequately watered to produce fruit.

With electricity bills getting higher, Lynda and Neil altered the time they irrigated to take advantage of off-peak power. This was problematic as the irrigation system would run at night making it impossible to see when and where a pipe had burst or if there were leaks in the line.

Recognising irrigation during off-peak wasn’t a long-term solution, they looked at alternatives to their existing energy supply. After talking to other orchardists and doing research, Lynda and Neil decided the best solution would be to install solar panels to power the water pumps at the two sites.

They estimated the solar panels would cut their electricity bills by tapping into the abundant sunshine in the area, and at the same time provide an environmental benefit by reducing the orchard’s emissions.

For several years, Lion has funded Lion Dairy Pride Landcare Grants for dairy farmers and in 2018 added the Lion Orchard Pride Landcare Grants program.  As suppliers to Lion Dairy & Drinks, the Boardmans were eligible to apply and they received an inaugural Lion Orchard Pride Landcare Grant for $10,000.  These grants are offered for projects that improved biodiversity and land management or increase energy efficiency.

In 2018, Neil and Lynda Boardman were the inaugural recipients of a Lion Orchard Pride Grant that they used to for solar panels to help reduce electricity bills on their 100-acre orchard where they produce oranges for juicing.

With the funding secured, Neil and Lynda investigated solar panels that best suited their needs. Work began in January 2019 with the laying of a cement slab with the solar panels only taking one day to install. Shortly after the 10kW system was up and running with their energy provider connecting their metre in mid-February.

It’s still early days, but Neil said the panels were easy to maintain and were a good system. He hasn’t been able to see the full impact on their electricity bill, but he’s believes savings will flow through to the orchard.

“Receiving a grant such as this motivates you to improve your situation and stay in-touch with changes in the industry and maintain sustainability,” Neil said.

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