New DIY guide sets out to energise farmers

Winemaker Sam Statham first ventured into solar power 25 years ago but the prohibitive cost of batteries meant his experiment was short lived.

A quarter of a century on, the general manager of Rosnay Organic Wines has converted his NSW vineyard and farm buildings into a microgrid.

"We're able to run pretty much everything on the solar," Mr Statham said.

"Generally speaking, the battery at the moment is running right through to the following day."

The set-up was partly funded by the state's department of primary industries, including a virtual power plant trial and new batteries.

The initial outlay was significant, around $180,000 with a transformer upgrade thrown in.

"It's a big cost ... it's worth it for the long term," Mr Statham said.

A year down the track, the winery is making more power than it needs with considerable savings.

Now other farmers can get in on the act, with a new do-it-yourself guide to renewable energy which urges producers to make the switch.

The eight-part Agrifuture alternative energy series is a step-by-step manual on how to begin integration with on-farm practices and an Australian first-of-its-kind.

It focuses on solar, wind and hydro power, as well as biofuels, battery storage and biogas hydrogen.

Jane Knight from Agrifutures told AAP the guide was already hitting its mark, with 800 visits to its website and most views on pages devoted to solar and bioenergy.

"They will not only have an impact on individual farmer's profitability, they will have a really instrumental impact on Australian agriculture more broadly," Ms Knight said.

"It will allow us to maintain competitiveness on a global scale."

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt told AAP this week Australia's $72 billion ag export market relied on producers proving their environmental credentials.

Senator Watt, who is in Europe talking up those credentials, said agriculture will play a key role in the nation's commitment to reducing emissions by 43 per cent by 2030.

"Increasingly our exports are dependent on demonstrating we are sustainable producers of produce," he said.

Recent analysis found the sector spends almost six billion dollars annually on energy, a figure expected to soar amid rocketing electricity prices.

While the Agrifutures report acknowledges that set-up costs can be a constraining factor for farmers, it found the potential benefits are a strong motivator.

Mr Statham said his power source had been more reliable than the grid and he hopes it will enable expansion on the farm, which processes around 40 tonnes of grapes a year.

The winemaker said the guide will help other farmers determine whether renewables are right for them.

"I think it ( the guide) helps you answer a lot of questions," he said.

"One of the first thing you need to do is actually just understand your consumption better ... before you even start purchasing new technology."

Farmers for Climate Action's Cameron Klose said the guide would help producers keen to convert to alternative energy.

"Research ... has clearly shown farmers want to reduce emissions and want more on-ground help to do so," he said.

"Farmers can reduce emissions and become energy independent, and reduce their energy costs through using renewables and storage.

"And they can ensure access to the crucial export markets Australian farmers rely on by reducing emissions at the same time."

The group has previously called on the federal government to subsidise farm batteries.