Six More Ways to Save on Energy Costs

Diesel prices are up over 50% from this time last year and farmers need to look at different ways to maximize efficiency.

Purdue Ag Engineers estimate it will cost farmers at least $10 more this year to produce an acre of corn, just due to fuel for machinery operation. Consider some of these ideas for making your fuel dollars go farther:

1) Fuel use per acre for field operations is independent of implement width. Take, for example, two disks, one with a 20-foot width and the other with a 30-foot width. It would take 50% more power to pull the 30-foot disk but since the disk would be tilling 50% more acres per hour, fuel use per acre would be the same for either scenario.

2) Look to combine trips across fields. Farmers using 28% UAN solutions may be able to mix pre-plant or pre-emergence herbicides with fertilizer and apply with one trip. Be sure to check with your ag retailer regarding chemical compatibility.

3) Match field equipment to the appropriate sized tractor. If excess tractor horsepower is used for the job, fuel efficiency declines dramatically. Studies show that a large front-wheel assist tractor or 4-wheel drive tractor may actually provide the best fuel efficiency if it is appropriately sized to a large field cultivator or other tillage implement.

4) Cut down on pick-up trips to town. According to studies, for many farms one of the largest users of fuel involves the pick-up truck. Consider downsizing to a smaller truck.

5) Check out technologies such as auto-steer to reduce overlap and get out of the fields quicker, suggests Alan Miller, Purdue Extension farm business management specialist.

6) Organize your logistics and travel between fields. You might be able to reduce costs and minimize the amount of time spent getting to and from different fields.

"Farmers should go back to the drawing board and reevaluate their production system from a holistic approach and make changes or adjustments where needed to maximize efficiency," says Miller. "It¹s often the little things you do that add up more than changing any one big thing."

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