There was strong interest among Cork farmers around solar and anaerobic digestion on Tuesday night.

Colin Buttimer farms in Fermoy, Co Cork, and plans to install solar panels on his farm.

“Potatoes are our main enterprise, we rear some calves as well and we’ve a little bit of grain. We have applied for a TAMS grant for solar panels.

“We’re just waiting to hear back on the application, it was put into the first tranche of the current TAMS. We’re hoping to hear back soon and go ahead with it then.

“With the potato storage we use a fair bit of power, mostly from October through to April. It will taper off then and for June, July and August there will be very little usage. Obviously, those months are when you are generating the most electricity. We will be depending on exporting a little bit to help the payback on that.”

Anaerobic digestion

Colin Toomey, is a pig farmer from north Cork. He has no renewables on-farm at the minute, but is interested in solar and anaerobic digestion (AD).

“With solar, we have a single-phase connection. It’s quite limiting on the size and scale you can put up and there’s quite a long payback period with it. At the minute, as it stands, solar isn’t an option.

“AD is something we’re massively interested in. With slurry, nitrates, banding and everything, it’s becoming more and more of an issue.

“Getting people to sign for it [slurry] is quite a challenge as well. Definitely if something can be done in that regard. From a farmer’s point of view, we shouldn’t even get too caught up in the economic side of it.”

Blarney pig farmer Pat O’Connor said he is more inclined to go the solar route.

“The payback is quicker. The digesters, it’s prohibitive the money you would have to spend on one. At the moment I would be more interested in solar. Hopefully down the line they make digesters more accessible locally for us.

“With TAMS, I think it would be better if the limit could be upped and you could do more in the one tranche,” he said.