solar bore pump will be very popular  in australia

Ben Speirs (L), Ben Wall and the co-op’s members plan to expand the farm using diesel savings. (ABC Rural: Katrina Beavan)

A Central Australian date farm now waters its palms through a single solar-powered bore after previously consuming about a litre of diesel for a kilo of dates.

Now that the Tamara Cooperative, south of Alice Springs, has installed the new 18-kilowatt solar panels to power the farm’s water bore pump instead of diesel, it is hoping to expand its crop.

Ben Speirs, member of the Tamara Cooperative which runs the farm, said the bore can pump about 500,000 litres a day, water about 700 palms, and also supply all the domestic water used at the farm.

Mr Speirs said the pump was changed over three weeks ago, and so far things had gone smoothly.

“It’s delivering significant amounts of water constantly and silently. It’s rather magic actually,” he said.

solar bore pump

Eighteen-kilowatt solar panels power the bore pump at the Tamara Date Farm instead of diesel. (ABC Rural: Katrina Beavan)

“We have no batteries attached to this solar array. When the sun comes up and there’s sufficient energy to drive the pump the controller starts the pump and then maximises the amount of power the panels can deliver,” he said. solar bore pump

Fellow co-op member Ben Wall said beforehand, the farm was limited by how many hours they could pump water onto the palms.

“They were getting under-watered, [now] we’ll be saving a lot of money and growing more dates,” he said.

“It’s just that it can pump all day. There’s actually a lower pressure than the diesel but we adapt our irrigation systems to the solar now.

“That’s been another job, changing all the drippers [and] adjusting the solenoids systems.

“On a day like today, clear skies, it will pump from seven o’clock to six o’clock if we want it to.”

Mr Wall said the large supply of sunshine in central Australia meant solar was a more efficient bore pump

“We get about 300 days a year like this and that was all (taken into account) in our calculations, that we could just pump the orchard without any batteries or any large tank storage. It’s direct from the sun and that itself is a great thing,” he said.

The Tamara Date Cooperative not only supplies domestic markets, it also exports crop internationally. (ABC Rural: Katrina Beavan)
Mr Wall told the Northern Territory Country Hour that previously it took about one litre of diesel to create one kilogram of dates.

“That’s what all modern agriculture is set up like, it’s basically turning fossil fuels into food and people forget that,” Mr Wall said.

Mr Wall said the co-op always had plans to at least double the orchard and applying for an increased water licence to do that could be a possibility.

“Everything has been waiting for this transition to solar so we know we have a secure water supply that can be delivered sufficiently,” he said.

“From now on we’ll grow and if we need to [we] will apply for a little bit more water.”