Scheme expands to drive dairy farm efficiency

Thursday, 13 August 2020

We’re expanding our GrowSave scheme to include dairy, which will help drive on-farm efficiency.

Funded by AHDB, GrowSave helps agricultural businesses access the latest thinking and established techniques about  efficiency, with a focus on energy.

The collaboration between AHDB and NFU Energy has been around for thirteen years in the Horticulture sector and its latest iteration will include the Dairy, Pork, Cereals and Potatoes sectors.

The GrowSave programme will run for five years, and during the first year we are carrying out a market review and gap analysis to identify existing energy efficiency practices, new technologies and highlight potential improvements.

Energy cost and efficiency are one of the many challenges the industry faces, alongside requirements to deliver quality products at ever decreasing costs and lower carbon footprints. These are the themes coming across strongly in  discussions with farmers, producers and industry figures so far.

However, it is also clear that there is opportunity to meet these challenges, and that the industry is rising to it. One such example is the work being carried out by the South West Dairy Development Centre at Shepton Mallet. For example, they’re carrying out  a number of projects on wearable sensor technology, improving cow comfort and health and automated systems to collect data that will improve productivity.

In focussing on understanding the basic principles of good energy efficiency practices, clear guidance is needed around milk cooling system selection , as well as highlighting how the interactivity between milk cooling, water heating and water supply systems can reduce energy requirements.

The review will consider the role of the energy markets and how the changing mix of generation to renewable systems can help to decarbonise the sector. This could be either indirectly through natural reduction in carbon emissions of grid electricity  or directly on  farms.  We’ll explore the current potential for installing renewable technologies, such as solar thermal and PV as well as manipulation of existing solar PV generation and other opportunities for installing renewable energy.

Most dairy farmers are familiar with the concept of Economy 7 tariffs and managing their consumption to minimise use in more expensive tariff periods. Recent market volatility creates the need to present solutions to employ energy storage systems and  further reduce energy costs. Not all energy storage systems are battery based and opportunities exist to store energy using systems designed to the farm’s requirements.

Incorporating heat pumps to meet farm energy needs is an exciting and underutilised technology which may have great potential.

The review, currently in progress, is designed to be used by the GrowSave steering committee (made up of AHDB personnel and industry representatives) to design the forthcoming programme.

We would extend an invitation to contact us using the form to highlight any particular areas you think would be of interest.

For further information please contact David Ball, Senior Manager – Environments and Buildings at or NFU Energy on

Download our efficient milk cooling systems facsheet

Learn more about improving energy efficiency on dairy farms

Find out more about GrowSave