Digital Dairy Chain

Decarbonising the dairy sector with digital innovation

A three-month project funded and supported by the Digital Dairy Chain’s Innovation Voucher scheme has recently completed with results from the on-farm pilot showing an array of benefits; from to energy consumption to more sustainable farm practices.

Wigtonshire Dairy Farmer, Leo Petrucci from Outer Blair Farm, was awarded an Innovation Voucher of £10K to lead a collaborative project which aimed to provide recommendations to the sector on optimizing electrical device usage on farms.

The Innovation Voucher allowed Leo to work alongside academics from the University of Strathclyde and RHD(Scotland) Ltd, who acted as the electricity monitoring partner, to explore activity-based consumption on farm using renewable sources of energy.

As well as researching sustainable energy use, the project had several additional aims:

  • Propose load scheduling based on maximisation of on farm solar production, leading to a reduction in carbon and energy bills.
  • Proposal of installation of automation equipment for load shifting.
  • Investment analysis of additional RES and battery storage.

Leo Petrucci commented: “The project gave us a much deeper understanding of our energy consumption on farm. It also enabled us to make better use of the current equipment we have for load shifting potential and understand the benefits of installing automation systems.

“The recommendations made through the project have already benefitted us greatly in terms lowering our energy costs and improving our use of on-site renewable sources such as solar and biomass. 

“This is allowing us to farm in a more sustainable manner  which was an important goal for the business. An added bonus, is the cost savings we’re making has enabled investment into other areas of the farm. Essentially the project was a double win and an extremely worthwhile long-term investment in terms of our time and money.”

Outer Blair Farm reported that in total, a reduction of 30% of the yearly CO2 emissions is expected thanks to the pilot project, with the farm benefitting from reduced electricity bills in the range of 30-40% per year.

A scarcity of data on appliance-level farm energy consumption meant there was a gap in the dairy sectors and researchers understanding of how energy is used on farms and limits potential advancements. This project helped bridge this gap, offering rich insights into on-site energy usage patterns and the potential for demand-side management.

Whilst Outer Blair farm showed a compelling example of how steps towards decarbonisation of the dairy sector is possible, the next step is to scale up and further explore solutions across an array of energy consumption practices, loads and local generation across farms.

If you would like further information about the Outer Blair Farm project or the Innovation Voucher Scheme, please contact ddc-innovations@strath.ac.uk