Guest Column | October 26, 2021

Energy Use In Agriculture

By Tania Holembovska


Farmers are looking for new sources of energy as volatile electricity prices create various economic problems in agriculture. Agricultural cooperatives, which you can read about here, and individual farmers are turning to renewable energy as innovative technologies develop as they offer many opportunities, including reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency. This article will learn what alternative energy sources are provided today and what benefits they provide.   

What Type Of Energy Is Consumed?

Coal, natural gas, and oil are the most consumed fossil fuels for energy in agriculture. Fossil fuels account for most of America's agricultural energy use. Even though the amount of power consumed has decreased, it remains an integral part of the work of this sector. Energy efficiency has piqued the interest of many farmers and producers in the wake of the OPEC crisis, as the cost of fossil fuels has risen.

The change in energy consumption occurred with the replacement of gasoline engines with diesel ones. The use of propane and natural gas has also increased the efficiency of fossil fuel use. Farmers are practicing various energy conservation methods, using calibration machines, preserving soil, and improving irrigation systems.

What Are The Energy Efficiency Opportunities?

Farming uses a lot of energy, but the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reports that there is an opportunity for farmers to save about $1 billion a year. Savings are promoted by electrification and the use of energy-saving opportunities. In this way, the impact on the environment can also be reduced. There are several opportunities for improving energy efficiency.

Maintain equipment

Maintaining your equipment is extremely important as it will be more energy efficient in good condition. The correct pressure must be maintained in the tires of agricultural machinery since otherwise, energy resistance is created. Clogged filters and nozzles reduce energy efficiency, while regularly serviced equipment is more energy-efficient and less fuel-efficient.

Insulate buildings

Drafts and leaky buildings result in a loss of both heat and cool air in hot climates. For this reason, it is crucial to pay more attention to insulation and minimizing drafts. In addition, it is essential to maintain and update various climate control equipment. Otherwise, you will not be able to perform high-quality ventilation, heating, and air conditioning on-premises.

Adequate ventilation is an integral part of farm management. If you replace old fans with new ones, you have the opportunity to reduce your energy consumption significantly. Also, do not forget to clean the fan blades and screens. These elements can become clogged with dust and feathers, which prevent air from flowing freely and thus reduce the efficiency of the equipment.

Improve irrigation

Irrigation systems also consume energy, as most of them are electrically driven. Some systems require diesel engines because of the powerful pumps. These items also need maintenance and replacement from time to time.

The use of water in animal husbandry also requires energy. However, for animals, you can opt for drinking bowls with low or low-energy consumption. It makes it possible to save water.

Crops can be irrigated with low-pressure sprinkler nozzles. When using them, the need for pumping water is reduced, the pumps do not wear out longer. However, the main advantage of such systems remains low-energy consumption and lower water consumption.

In addition, farmers can replace diesel pumps with electric ones. They last longer and show higher efficiency. They are also characterized by higher reliability and lower financial costs.

Apply wind power

Wind energy is developing rapidly and growing faster than other energy technologies in the world. The US Department of Energy reports this. The essence of this technology is to convert the force of the wind into mechanical energy or electricity.

Wind turbines used on farms can operate autonomously and be connected to the grid or combined with the sun's energy. Wind power is also used for water pumps. About half an acre of land is set aside for large wind turbines, so there is plenty of room for growing crops and dumping livestock.

Reducing energy consumption is an essential part of maintaining the concept of sustainability in agriculture. Thanks to alternative energy sources, it is possible to reduce the impact on the environment, save money and increase profits. Such alternative sources are solar and wind energy. Thanks to these sources, farmers can achieve independence in energy consumption while reducing fossil fuel emissions.

Grow biofuel crops

Biofuels are made from plants such as sunflower, canola, and camel. They replace fossil fuels and are considered renewable fuels since plants are quickly replenished. In addition, the plants can serve as feed for livestock and be used in crop rotation. Oilseeds are common plant feedstock, while biomass pellets are produced from millet and perennial grasses. Growing biofuel crops helps reduce costs.

Use solar energy

Solar energy is renewable and used as an alternative to fossil fuels. Farmers use solar energy to heat water, buildings, and farm equipment. Some farms also manage to extend the growing season with solar irrigation systems. It gives growers the ability to grow tropical fruits and greens throughout the year, including winter.

The Advantages Of Energy Efficiency

The cost of energy in agriculture is defined in two terms. Direct energy costs are attributed directly to the agribusiness owner and include diesel fuel, electricity bills, and maintenance costs for agricultural equipment. Reducing energy costs can only be achieved by reducing energy consumption.

There are also indirect energy costs. They include the costs of services and goods needed to produce agricultural products, and the price of fossil fuels also falls into this category.

Improving energy efficiency has many benefits and reduces both direct and indirect costs. One of the benefits of energy efficiency in agriculture is increased productivity. Equipment that is energy efficient is helping to shift the focus from workflow to manufacturing.

 Also, thanks to energy efficiency, farmers get the opportunity to make more profits. Combustion of fuel requires more maintenance for equipment. So the more energy-efficient equipment you use, the lower your maintenance costs will be. One of the main benefits of energy efficiency is the reduction in environmental impact. By reducing the use of fossil fuels, both air emissions and ecological burden are reduced.

Final Thoughts

You can find several energy efficiency opportunities for yourself. Farmers can use wind or solar energy and grow biofuel crops. Improving irrigation systems and maintaining equipment also go a long way in improving energy efficiency. Efficient use of energy has several critical benefits.

Farmers can reduce the cost of fossil fuels by using renewable energy sources. In addition, the use of energy-efficient solutions helps to reduce equipment maintenance costs and increase profits. Energy efficiency is also part of sustainable agriculture, as it helps reduce environmental impact.

Tania Holembovska is a motivated and avid content writer at Tania believes in the power of geospatial data and custom algorithms.