Innovation for irrigators
I was pleased to attend an event near Narromine recently, to launch Australia’s biggest solar diesel hybrid pumping system, installed by Australian company, ReAqua. I was joined by NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, and Member for Dubbo, Troy Grant, as the pump was switched on for the very first time at Jon Elder’s farm, ‘Waverleigh’.
The 500kW system comprises an impressive 1500 solar panels arranged over an area of one hectare. It is currently being accredited as a power station under the Federal Government’s Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET), administered by the Clean Energy Regulator. Under this scheme, the farm will earn Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) for the power it generates.
Jon Elder’s solar setup is expected to reduce diesel consumption used for irrigating the cotton farm by about 50 per cent each year and reduce 500 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere annually. The integration of solar energy means water can be pumped from the bore during the day at no cost, and will blend seamlessly with diesel during dawn and dusk.
I believe this system offers further advantages in that it sets Jon up for challenging years ahead. This promises significant benefits for irrigators in my electorate and is a positive step for drought resilience more widely.
The solar pumping system at ‘Waverleigh’ was partially funded by a loan from the NSW Rural Assistance Authority’s Farm Innovation Fund. Interestingly, this site will host a solar forecasting technology trial by CSIRO.
I relished the opportunity to catch up with innovative, passionate farmers from the area, of which there is no shortage. I would like to congratulate ReAqua on a successful launch event and an excellent solar power initiative.
Plant breeding field day
The University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute Field Day at Narrabri last week was a successful event, and I enjoyed catching up with Associate Professor Dr Guy Roth who manages this excellent facility, along with many others.
It was an honour to unveil Sunprime, the latest wheat variety release from Australian Grain Technologies (AGT). This variety is high yielding, with the ability to yield under tough conditions. ‘Yield’ was the theme for the event – a perfect fit given the challenging farming conditions presented by the drought.
For our farmers to succeed, they need good plant breeding behind them. In order to meet the global challenge of feeding a growing global population, plant breeding and production is key. The University of Sydney has a 60-year history of conducting trials at Narrabri, with more than 40,000 yield plots sown annually at this state of the art facility.
This is an excellent research site and I commend the University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute on their continued plant breeding work.