Sustainable Farming | Solar for Aussie Chicken Farm


Australia’s largest free-range chicken farm is due to slash its power bills after a $5 million-dollar solar panel project gets the go-ahead.

Triggered by rising energy prices, AAM Investment Group’s Ben Edser explains that “before we put the system in, our cost of energy imported from the network was getting towards $1 million.”

“Following the [solar] investment we have put in place,” Mr. Edser says, “we’ve been able to reduce our consumption by about 70 per cent.”

Sustainable Farming & Riverlands Free Range Chicken Farm 

solar panel and chickenSourced from Energy Matters

The AAM owned Riverlands Free Range chicken farm, in SA’s Blanchtown, hosts around 10 million birds in 42 sheds. Although AAM is better known for it’s cattle and sheep production, expanding into chicken farming is a reliable and constant source of revenue- until it comes to electricity prices.

With the support of state government funding, Riverlands Free Range was awarded $1.3 million for solar investments and sustainable farming initiatives.

Adding 1.4 megawatts of solar panels to the shed roofs and installing five Tesla batteries, Riverlands Free Range has reduced their CO2 emissions by 1,500 tonnes.

As explained by Mr. Edser, that’s the equivalent to taking “1200 cars off the road or planting 25,000 trees.”

Turning Manure Into Money & Other Renewable Initiatives

Another way the Riverlands Free Range chicken farm is practicing sustainable farming is by turning chicken manure into a profitable nutrient-rich compost.poultry with solar panel

With more than 50,000 cubic meters of soiled straw and chicken manure being produced each year, the disposal of this waste was costing Riverlands Free Range upwards of $200,000.

By putting this nutrient-rich waste up for sale, local wineries have jumped at the opportunity for organic compost.

Local winemaker Michael Bruer has commented that after implementing the organic chicken waste for his crop “the results have been spectacular.”

“We managed to get [young vines] established in the first season- that’s normally a five-year process.”

Solar In Agriculture

Riverlands Free Range hopes it can be a leading example in sustainable agricultural industries.

With a plan to roll-out similar renewable and cost-saving systems at their Murray Bridge facility, AAM believes their sustainable model can be extended even further.

“Anywhere where you’ve got some sort of intensive energy usage, these sorts of technologies can be applied. This is much bigger than us. This has got far greater opportunities for all of agriculture.” Mr. Edser said.

From Farm To Home | How Solar Can Be Used Anywhere

recover your savings with solarIf like Riverlands Free Range you are ready to take reducing your power bills seriously, Solar Market connects you with three complementary quotes from local CEC accredited solar installers in your area.

Unsure of what sort of solar system is right for you? Take our solar quiz to find your perfect match. It gives you tailored information on system size, savings and estimated costs of installation.

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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