Baillie, C. P. and Chen, G. (2011) Energy, greenhouse gas emissions and irrigated agriculture. In: SEAg 2011: Diverse Challenges, Innovative Solutions, 29-30 Sep 2011, Gold Coast, Australia.
On-farm energy efficiency is becoming a significant issue for highly mechanised irrigated agricultural industries due to rising energy costs and concern over greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Energy represents a major cost and one of the fastest growing input costs to primary producers. The Australian cotton growing industry is highly mechanised and heavily reliant on fossil fuels (electricity and diesel). Within highly mechanised farming systems such as those used within the cotton industry, machinery costs can represent 40 – 50% of the cotton farm input costs. Given the major dependence on machinery (direct energy inputs) and rising energy costs, energy use efficiency is an emerging issue for the Australian Cotton Industry.
Both previous and current work undertaken by the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) is studying direct on farm energy use which involves a number of case study cotton farms to understand the contribution of direct energy use to cotton production and greenhouse gas emissions. The results from this work show that energy use varies depending on the cropping enterprise and the farming system and that there are significant opportunities to reduce energy and costs. In comparison the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from direct energy use can be similar and in fact greater than the GHGs generated by nitrogen based fertiliser.
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