• Andrea Carroll
  • 3 min read

The support scheme for the dairy sector is returning in 2019 but how did previous farmers get on with their new energy efficient equipment?

Grant recipient Pat Walton on his farm in County Tipperary

The grant scheme supports upgrading to more efficient vacuum and milk pumps.

Over the last two years, more than 110 farmers have benefitted from the energy and cost savings associated with replacing their old equipment with new energy efficient  variable speed drive vacuum and milk pump technology. 

Pat Walton, a dairy farmer from Ballingarry County Tipperary, milks 200 cows per day on close to 250 acres.

He decided to get a vacuum pump and a milk pump system both with variable speed drives because he felt the new machines were quieter and would save him money in the future.

“It’s friendlier to the environment, there is no oil in it, its cleaner and it’s safer. It’s an investment the first day but over four or five years it will have paid for itself and after that it’s saving you a lot of money,” says Pat.

Seán Hegarty lives in Whites Cross, Cork with his wife Mary and two children. After setting up his dairy farm ten years ago, he now has a herd of 117 cattle on 84 hectares.

Seán originally had two vacuum pumps but in October 2018 he traded them in. He installed a vacuum pump system and a milk pump system both with variable speed drives.

“It cost enough but it’s looking good,” says Seán.

“It’s way quieter altogether. The ones I had before, you could hear them roaring all morning,” he adds.

“Milk is also cooled way faster too so that is a big plus for me.”

Grant recipient Seán Hegarty in his milking parlour - Photo Credit: NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards

How grants can make a real difference to farmers

Kevin Downing is the owner of Parkduv farm in County Cork, which is run in partnership with his farm manager Tom Carr. They share a commitment to quality and sustainable development on their farm, which consists of 150 Holstein cows.

When their pumps were coming towards the end of their lifecycle, Kevin attended a Teagasc farmers discussion group. Here he learned about energy-efficient pumps and in 2018, he applied for an SEAI grant for two vacuum pump systems with variable speed drives.

“It’s more efficient, it’s more environmentally friendly and you are doing your bit for the environment by reducing your carbon footprint,” argues Kevin.

Since installing his two pumps last year, Kevin feels that they are not as quiet as he thought they would be: “There is a noise and vibration off it which I can hear in the house.”

But when asked if he would still endorse the pumps to others he adds: “I absolutely would recommend it to other farmers.”

Fitter, Ger Cantwell, who was in charge of installing Pat Walton’s machine in Tipperary, believes that SEAI grants are very important because it encourages farmers to go out and get new equipment such as pumps and motors.

The grants can make a very real difference Ger says: “They are going to save a lot at the end of the year so it’s well worth their while doing it.”

Parkduv Farm in County Cork. Photo Credit: NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards

The average grant payment is €4,000

SEAI has funded over €470,000 to dairy farmers through this grant, offering up to 40% of the cost of installed items, with an average grant payment of €4,000.

Dairy farmers that are interested in replacing their current vacuum pump or milk pump systems with more economical and energy efficient alternatives, can apply for the SEAI Dairy Farm Grant 2019, which will reopen for applications on Monday 18th February 2019.

The grant provides up to 40% of the funding needed to complete the retrofit of vacuum or milk pump systems on dairy farms. This year over €500,000 is available through the scheme, which will be apportioned on a first come, first served basis. All works and installations need to be completed before the 28th June 2019.