Growers urged to invest in technology to save future costs

"Cheap is no longer cheerful" was the message given to potato growers by Farm Energy Centre (FEC) Services technical director Tim Pratt - who said investing cash in more energy-efficient technologies can bring long-term reductions to farms' running costs.

Pratt, speaking at last week's East Midlands Potato Day, advised growers to measure and record their use of fuel and electricity as a starting point in finding ways to bring down their bills.

He said: "It sounds dull but it's surprising what you can learn from looking at the performance of things. I have absolutely no doubt that by (doing this) you can save 10 per cent without spending any money. A bit of research will pay good dividends."

He said that tractors, for example, can be more energy efficient if they are regularly maintained and if the ballasting, tyre pressure and ground conditions are "optimised".

"The ballast should be distributed between the front and rear of the tractor in the correct proportions for maximum efficiency."

Pratt also advised growers to consider investing in new irrigation pumps and storage facilities to reduce energy costs. Electric irrigation pumps with high-efficiency motors can be up to 10 per cent more efficient than a re-wind.

He added that, although spray-insulating an old cold store costs £15,000, it can save growers some £5,000 a year - meaning it takes just three years to pay back the investment.

He said: "(These technologies) are not cheap, but consider the longer-term costs when investing. Cheap is no longer cheerful."

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