Exploring the Region
By Emma Nikkerud
Exploring our region has allowed participants in Leadership Ballarat and Western Region’s program day to discover innovation by some amazing problem solvers.
Seeing our regional neighbours facing challenges and overcoming them with new and different ideas was inspiring. It was great to see projects creating new industry and reducing the environmental impact of their facilities and businesses.
We were shown a state-of-the-art dairy farm with automated milking in a barn. Cows happily went about their day, making their way after some training, on their own to be milked three times a day. The effluent from these cattle was captured and pumped into a series of bacteria-laden bladders inside shipping containers, allowing the use of methane to create electricity. The system not only reduces the environmental impact of methane, it uses it as a fuel and creates low smell fertiliser as a by-product to fertilise the farms potato crops. When this system is up and running efficiently it will power part of the automated milking operation. It could have applications outside the dairy industry.
Next, we visited the beautiful Eurambeen homestead, 7km from Beaufort. Hearing how the owners fell in love with this property six years ago when it was derelict and in desperate need for restoration was inspirational. They have lovingly restored the sprawling garden and are working on completing the renovations of the expansive homestead. The property is dotted with historic cottages, creating accommodation on this idyllic location. The stunning woolshed conversion was a perfect space for a delicious lunch made from local produce.
Another organisation innovating to reduce their impact on the environment is the Beaufort hospital. It has converted from gas heating to a wood chip boiler that uses chips from the local sawmill to heat the hospital.
Government plays a part in providing framework and grants for such projects, but it was encouraging to see people developing partnerships with industry. Some of these projects will shape the future to more renewable sources of energy to reduce our impact in regional areas and more in Ballarat. Bioenergy systems to burn waste to create energy are being discussed.
This program day was an incredible opportunity to reflect on the what can be done to reduce our impact on the environment and use waste to provide greener energy.
There is not a one size fits all for this – it will take investment, persistence, innovative thinking and a willingness to try new ideas to reduce our environmental impact.