Benchmarking Energy Use on Farm


Agriculture and the related primary industry is an increasingly energy demanding sector. Energy is needed to different extent in all the stages of the agrifood chain. In many cases, energy cost may represent up to 2050% of the total agricultural production cost, including the cost of manufacturing and transportation of various chemicals and fertilisers. Australia’s electricity costs have already increased by 80% in the last 5 years, and are expecting a further increase of 20% or more in the next few years. Previous work undertaken by the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) have shown that energy use varies depending on the cropping enterprise and the farming systems and that there are significant opportunities to reduce energy, costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is also evident from these research that there are significant inconsistences and access issues for the onfarm energy use data in and between different industries. The following project is proposed to lever the significant body of research already conducted by the NCEA. The proposed work will extend and add value to these research by identifying and providing quality energy use data in a standardised userfriendly format across the Australia’s agricultural industry. This information will allow growers to make informed decisions on their energy management strategies and upgrading production facility. The work will be conducted under the chief investigator Dr Guangnan Chen who has demonstrated project records and international reputation in this area of important research. He is also supported by a very strong research team.


National Rural Issues

Research Organisation

University of Southern Queensland

Objective Summary

The main goal of the project is to quantify and present energy use matrices in a clear manner for key agricultural industries in Australia, and identify/rank options for energy efficiency and energy diversification through renewable energy. The key objectives are: Define farm system types for each industry Characterise each farm system type Collect energy and production data Analyse and benchmark energy use of different subprocesses/practices Analyse and identify energy use pattern /mix and compare across industries (what, when, where and how much energy is used). The energy use data will be further linked to the sources and prices of energy supply, characteristics of the region and the industry Identify opportunities and ‘best practices’ to increase energy efficiency, farm profitability and industry sustainability Develop and rank energy diversification through renewable energy options. At the end of the project, a gap analysis will also be undertaken to identify and prioritise future work. The impact of future technological development and influence of government trade, energy and environment policy will be examined.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Project Completion Date

Friday, January 30, 2015

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

NRI-National Rural Issues


Related publications


Benchmarking Energy Use on Farm