A SOLAR array on the roof of Kitchen Farms’ Boyanup dairy will be funded by a $10,000 Lion Dairy Pride Landcare grant.
Brothers Ray and Mal Kitchen and their wives Donna and Lesley, who run Kitchen Farms and Carenda Holsteins stud, were the only WA recipients this year of the annual dairy grants which were also extended to sustainable orchard projects for the first time.
“Next to fodder and fertiliser, our energy bills for running the dairy are right up there as far as our costs go,” Ray Kitchen said on Tuesday.
“It costs us about $100 a day on energy to cool the milk, heat water and run the lights, pumps and equipment,” Mr Kitchen said.
“So we’ll spend the grant on installing solar power generation for the dairy.
“I’m pretty sure we will see the benefit of it.
“We’ve always been conscious of our environmental footprint and the need to do what we can to minimise the impact of our farming on the environment.”
Mr Kitchen said they had applied for grants before but this was the first time they had received one.
“I’d like to thank Lion and Landcare,” he said.
Kitchen Farms will continue to investigate the feasibility of adding battery storage to the solar array at some time in the future.
The annual Dairy Pride Landcare Grants Program and the inaugural Lion Orchard Pride Landcare Grants Program are a collaboration between milk beverages, dairy products and juice manufacturer Lion Dairy and Drinks (LDD) and Landcare Australia.
They have partnered for 12 years to encourage adoption of sustainable farming initiatives and the grants program is part of the Lion Dairy Pride sustainable farming initiative launched in 2016.
This year, nine dairy farmers and two orange growers received up to $10,000 each to support implementation of sustainability initiatives for their businesses.
Murray Jeffrey, LDD agricultural procurement director, was pleased to announce this year’s recipients and to extend the program to include Lion’s orange growers.
“Supporting our farmer and orange grower partners to become sustainable businesses for the long-term is a key priority for Lion,” he said.
“We look forward to seeing how this year’s recipients implement meaningful change in their businesses thanks to the grants.”
Landcare Australia chief executive officer Shane Norrish said Landcare was proud to extend the grants to orchardists this year.
“Our partnership with Lion has, to date, seen the implementation of fantastic sustainability initiatives for dairy farmers across the country, with previous recipients making significant improvements to the sustainability, productivity and profitability of their businesses,” Mr Norrish said.
Kitchen Farms produces about 3.5 million litres of milk a year for LDD from a milking herd of 380-400 cows.
Mr Kitchen said this season had been one of the hardest he had known with a dry autumn and very late winter break, followed by cold weather which had slowed pasture growth.
But good October rains had promoted rye and clover pasture growth for fodder and he had finished silage harvest last week.
“I was happy with the quality and quantity in the end, which is probably just as well because demand from the drought over east has driven hay and fodder prices up,” he said.
As previously reported in Farm Weekly, beer and cider producing parent company Lion Pty Ltd last month announced it intends to sell the LDD division.