Small Farms

Anything but the short straw for potential energy sources

Farm waste could be a valuable energy source if we apply lessons from Europe according to the winner of a Food Source Victoria scholarship.

Western Victoria’s Andrew Lang travelled to Europe in early 2017 to see how other countries handle agricultural by-products, a trip made possible by the Victorian Government’s Food Source Victoria (FSV) program.

The scholarship enabled Mr Lang to learn more about the potential to generate energy from residues and by-products, which could see an increase in their use in Australia.

Mr Lang said most food production and processing businesses produced waste and residue. These were often low-value or a cost to the business, and could be considerable in volume.

“My scholarship allowed me to look at how these residues and wastes can be used to provide energy for production, or create alternative fuels like ethanol that can be sold,” he said.

“The benefits of adopting these technology options for businesses are reduced operational costs, improved profitability, as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr Lang’s trip took him to conferences in Europe to learn more, as well as visits to operations utilising by-products to produce energy.

He will share his knowledge with the Cultivate Agriculture group, a Victorian agribusiness forum.

“Some of the residues I came across being used were from processing of milk, olives, potatoes and chestnuts, and wastes from dairying and cropping,” Mr Lang said.

FSV program manager Susan Findlay said scholarships were available to support people looking at ideas that could help the future viability and sustainability of agriculture in the State.

“These scholarships are allowing the best knowledge in the world to be accessed and have the potential to deliver real results,” Ms Findlay said.

FSV supports food producers and businesses to work together to grow exports and create new jobs.

FSV scholarship grants are available to support individuals working in the industry to develop the skills needed to grow their business.

“FSV is funding a feasibility study on turning straw into pellets at Streatham, converting a by-product into a revenue source,” Ms Findlay said.

“The knowledge Andrew Lang gained on his scholarship has been able to help with providing input into this.”

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