AgriSearch publish results of on-farm energy management pilot study

AgriSearch have published a booklet summarising the results of a pilot study in Intelligent Total Energy Management in Dairying (iTEMiD).

The study commenced in early 2020 and took place across six farms consisting of both traditional and robotic milking processes. Ulster University (School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems) led the project in partnership with AgriSearch, Dale Farm, Ulster Farmers’ Union, CAFRE and McGreer Consulting.

The first phase of the project explored methods for automatic measuring, recording and visualising of precise energy usage across the Significant Energy Users (SEU) in the milking process which are vacuum pumping, milking cooling and water heating processes. This phase also explored the development of software to allow the visualisation of energy consumption per stages and the aggregation of data on the energy cost per litre of milk.

The second phase explored the measuring and analysis of on-farm renewable generation and how this can be best exploited within the timeframe of the milking processing. Aligned with the measurement of renewable generation, the team monitored hot water temperatures, milk tank temperature and also investigated the use of machine learning (ML) to automate the prediction of the cost of milk production (kWh per 100 litres) for various scenarios of vacuum pumps consumption.

The project found that the equipment monitoring and data collection can provide valuable real time insight into electricity consumption for main energy using dairy processes. To visualise the energy use and cost, a web accessible dashboard was developed, which also provided alerts for system failures or anomalies and offered comparisons against other machine types (vacuum pump variance etc). For example, the performance of VSD based Vacuum pumps and energy performance against non VSD systems were compared within the full report which indicated a possible saving of approximately £613 per annum.

AgriSearch General Manager Jason Rankin said: “Energy optimisation will play a significant role is the future sustainability of the growing milk production sector. This project has clearly shown that by making data accessible, informed decisions can be made on farm.”

The booklet is available to download from the AgriSearch website www.agrisearch.org