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Clean energy moo-vement.

Meet the family at Wilandra Farms showing dairy farmers that you can produce milk and meat, while caring for the planet.

Apr 13, 2022

Words: Gippslandia
Images: Emma Hearnes

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“We want to show that dairy farmers can produce milk and meat while caring for the planet,” declare the owners of Wilandra Farms, Wilco Droppert and Sandra Jefford.

This family-owned, 950-acre farm in Clydebank has the passionate Wilco and Sandra at the helm and a small team of skilled and attentive staff, including their son Luke.

With 350 head of milking cows, Wilandra is certified organic producers of milk, as well as producers of silage and hay, which means it’s no small feat to get their farm’s carbon footprint down.

Sandra took some time away from the top paddock to share some energy-saving tips, as well as motivation in generating your own power.

Your energy is just as precious as the power pumping out of those renewables. Finding small ways to save some time and effort goes a long way.

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Know where you’re starting.

After years of drought and far too much money being spent on power, Sandra and Wilco decided something needed to change. “We thought [that] instead of paying all that money to the electricity company, we’ll put that money into paying off equipment finance loans and we’ll generate our own power.”

Their first step was to get an energy audit done – which Sandra recommends undertaking, whether you’re making the switch to renewables or just looking at ways to lower your power use. An energy audit showed them “how much [energy] was used around the farm and where”, providing a baseline from which they could make targeted, impactful changes.

Get efficient.

Replacing old technology with more energy-efficient alternatives is an investment, but in Sandra’s experience, it’s one that pays for itself very quickly. “The energy audit told us that if we replaced a pump and pipeline at a particular bore, we’d effectively save 40% of the power that we were using at that site.” The costs of upgrading the pump and changing the pipeline to a larger diameter pipe were recuperated within two and a half years.

“It seemed like a big cost at the time, but it’s saved us so much money, so fast!”

Work with your renewables.

Renewable energy devices have brought countless benefits to Wilandra Farms. Beyond lower greenhouse gas emissions, Sandra notes, “We will eventually own all of our gear, so we will be generating the power for free… [and they are a] big labour saver because we have automation at the four pumps and the centre pivot irrigators.”

To get the most out of renewables, Sandra says you need to learn to work with them. To help with this, Sandra sourced a renewable energy action plan from the folks at Alternate Energy Innovations, Morwell. Collaborating, they came up with a plan to install a mix of solar and wind power and found ways they could tailor these best to Wilandra’s needs.

With the aim of using solar power for as much of the irrigation as possible, they needed to get intentional about solar placement. “If you put all of your solar panels facing north, you’ll generate a massive amount of power in the middle of the day, but we need power for as much of the day as we can.” To achieve this, they installed solar panels facing in three directions.

They also shifted what operations they could to the times when their renewable energy sources are most prevalent. “For us, that means pumping as much water as we can during the day while we’ve got sunshine.”

An energy management system that coordinates fixed and variable loads with available power has also been invaluable to Wilandra’s operations.

Save your own time and energy.

Your energy is just as precious as the power pumping out of those renewables. Finding small ways to save some time and effort goes a long way.

Wilandra recently started using cow activity collars, which help them to know when cows are on heat.

“Prior to buying these, we used to go out and check the cows four times per day. That’s a lot of time and a lot of motorbike wear and tear as well. We’ve eliminated all of that and totally rely on the cow collars now.”

They have also started to use a fertigation unit, which can cover 40 hectares per batch and allows fertiliser to be distributed with irrigation water. Previously, the team were mixing up batches that covered 16 hectares, driving out to spray that area, then returning to mix up another batch – continually repeating the process. “It took us forever. We never got around the whole farm… [the new fertigation unit] saves a massive amount of time…”

…Time, money and the planet, one innovative farm at a time.

To find out more about what Wilco and Sandra are doing at Wilandra Farms, mosey on over to

Gippslandia - Issue No. 26

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