OPINION: The East Coast Farming Expo has been home to robust conversations since its first event almost five years ago.
Energy is high among farmers’ concerns — its source, usage, costs, potential cost savings, operating efficiencies and developments in the renewables sector.
Specialist exhibitors in the field will include Eastland Group and Water Right Ltd.
“Energy usage on farms — how much we use, opportunities to save and the exploration of renewable sources — is a hot topic now,” says expo director Dave Martin.
A major sponsor is Eastland Group, which runs the power lines for Wairoa and the East Coast — 25,000 connections across 12,000sq. km. Eastland Generation includes geothermal, hydro and diesel electricity generation plants and the Electric Village in Gisborne.
Electric Village energy champion Jaclyn Findon says the technology industry -- globally and in New Zealand -- is evolving faster than ever.
“It’s an exciting time for energy and emerging technologies, and our region is perfectly placed.
“Electric Village in Gisborne is the home of new energy: it’s a place to share ideas, challenge the norm and discover better and more efficient ways of working.
“It’s about the future of energy technology, including tips and tricks on clever ways to use your power, and information on solar energy and electric vehicles.”
Eastland will have electric vehicles (EVs) at the expo for test drives, including electric cars, a utility electric 2x2 vehicle by the NZ maker UBCO, ebikes and escooters.
Matt O’Kane, of Water Right Ltd, says energy is usually a farm’s highest cost.
“We’ve recently been to Europe to look at developments in irrigation equipment and efficiency gains. Several companies have huge R&D focused on solar technologies to power centre pivot irrigators and large pumps.”
O’Kane says the gap is currently in storage, “requiring either expensive, inefficient batteries or irrigating during the day which, although commonplace, is nowhere near the bang-for-buck as night-time application.
“I’m excited about solar technology and its pace of development, as well as the constant reduction in cost.”
O’Kane says although the irrigation sector is not quite there commercially, “a tonne of work is going on behind the scenes, plus a major push to make it cost effective and practical”.
The East Coast Farming Expo is industry-specific – sheep and beef farming businesses ranging from extensive hill country to intensive flat operations. It will appeal to husband-and-wife partnerships, managers, stock managers, shepherds, business partners, accountants and financial advisors.
Trade exhibits and public seminars allow Hawke’s Bay and East Coast farmers to talk to industry innovators and experts.
The expo is an ideal venue for launching new products or releasing new research and technology. Farmers and landowners can explore new ideas and talk to experts.
The popular Evening Muster on March 6 is for attendees and exhibitors to socialise and hear the keynote speaker, rural broadcaster Sarah Perriam.