Getting the Most from Your Energy Dollar...
Using Energy Wisely on the Farm and Ranch

There’s no avoiding this reality in farming: Energy is one of the more expensive components of raising crops and livestock. In 2006, direct energy expenditures in agriculture accounted for 5-7 percent of farm expenditures. An earlier USDA study found that nearly half the cost of production was spent for energy.

Conserving Diesel Fuel on the Farm

Before You Start an Engine

Use the recommended grade of fuel. Buying a better grade of diesel than you need can be a waste of money. Most owner's manuals specify a No. 2-D fuel for warm weather operation and No. 1-D for extreme cold weather work.

In cold climates, install an electric block heater and timer on equipment. It is less expensive to warm engines with electricity for a controlled period of time than it is to use liquid fuel. Three hours is generally sufficient to warm an engine. Many available units attach to the block using magnets. If a tractor engine is kept heated all winter for use as a standby generator, you can decrease electrical consumption by installing an air-sensing thermostat set at 20 degrees F, the point at which it will automatically turn on.

Getting the Most Out of an Engine

Make sure your thermostat works properly. A properly working thermostat saves energy. Most engines run most efficiently when water temperature is between 165 and 180 degrees F. Fuel consumption increases by approximately 25 percent when the engine is operating at 100 degrees F, instead of 180 degrees F. Check your owner's manual for more information.

Factors Reducing Fuel Efficiency in a Diesel Tractor

livestock standing in a field
Source: Wyoming Energy Conservation Office

Energy Conservation for Continuous Flow Grain Dryers

Heat Recovery

Heat recovery on continuous flow column dryers can save 10 to 15% by recycling the exhaust air from the cooling or lower heating section of the dryer. For a dryer with a cooling section, heat recovery can be done by drawing a percentage of the intake air for the heating section through the grain to cool the grain while preheating the air entering the heating chamber. Air can also be recycled from both the lower heat section and the cooling section to reclaim additional heat. Recycling air does reduce dryer capacity slightly depending on the moisture content of the recycled air.

Cooling Options

Cooling grain in a dryer reduces capacity and rapid cooling will cause kernels to stress crack which may lead to lower value of the grain. Using a full heat dryer and transferring the grain to a bin for cooling at a slower rate will save energy and improve grain quality. The grain can be transferred to the cooling bin at 1 to 3 % moisture above the desired storage moisture level depending on the cooling method used. Dryeration will save the most energy and provide the best grain quality.

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