A plan at Elders' Killara Feedlot near Quirindi to be carbon neutral by 2030 is about to take a big step forward with the approval to construct a 600-kilowatt solar farm supplying 70 per cent of the feedlot's electricity requirements.
Killara's general manager Andrew Talbot said the approval of the proposal is timely as power prices for the operation have hiked by 20pc, which means a further impost of $100,000 a year for the business.
The plan for the feedlot enterprise to be carbon neutral in just eight or so years involves a three-point strategy.
Firstly the solar farm, which has room and capacity to be increased by 50pc, could provide 100pc of the electricity needs. Work will begin on the solar farm in July.
Secondly, the decision to stop using steam-flaked grain from the feed ration, which in turn means a saving of 2000 litres of diesel - used to run the boiler - a day.
Point three is a plan to reduce methane emissions from the cattle on feed by adding either a synthetic product called(3-NOP) which is an effective methane inhibitor that has been extensively evaluated and mixed into rations in non-pastoral dairy and beef systems, or using a product called Asparagopsis, which is a common type of Tasmanian red seaweed.
Mr Talbot said both these products were effective in reducing methane emission by up to 80pc, but the supply of both is currently limited.
"Production of these additives is not a scale where a large commercial business like ours could benefit," he said.
"It's also expensive, and early trials indicate either additive could increase feeding costs per head by 40 cents to 80 cents a day.
"We see consumers want to make a differential for environmentally friendly methane reduced meat products, albeit with different price points.
"The next three to five years will be really exciting for the feedlot sector as it aims to be carbon neutral.
Mr Talbot said the feedlot sector would be well ahead of the "grass production job" if realised this three-point objective.
Elders' Killara Feedlot is building a new feed processing mill that will be completed in 2033, producing rolled grain but could be adapted to reintroduce steam-flaking if it were powered by a green energy product like hydrogen or electricity.
Killara Feedlot has a capacity of 20,000 head and has been owned by Elders since 1997.
It was one of the earliest built feedlots in Australia when it opened in the 1960s but has numerous infrastructure upgrades, Mr Talbot said.
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