Agriculture News

How to reduce energy consumption on the farm

Published on 07.25.2019 by Craig Lester

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Keeping energy consumption down on farming operations can be a tough task, but many operations find ways to improve, not only to help their operation, but also the environment and their bottom line.

It doesn’t matter if it is a poultry farm, grain operation or a dairy, producers say there are several simple actions to lower energy consumption and put more money in their jeans.

Reduce fuel usage

Dave Bishop, a grain farmer from the Barons, Alta. area, says the implementation of GPS has done wonders to reduce fuel bills as they work their fields.

“It is one of the simplest ways to save money, we weren’t overlapping as much,” Bishop says.

He also says having a plan when moving items around on the farm will result in efficencies and time-savings.

Dairy farmer Tietsa Huijzer from Olds, Alta., says selecting the right equipment for the right job also helps.

“You don’t have to have a 200-horsepower tractor when you’re just leveling the yard, because that doesn’t need much power, so make sure you have the right equipment there,” Huijzer says.

Maintenance

Huijzer says keeping equipment in good working order means efficient use of electricity.

“We have to make sure we maintain our robotic milkers really well because as soon as something is off balance it takes longer to milk a cow.”

Adriaan Both, a poultry farmer from Ponoka, Alta., says the fans in his barn work off a rotating system based on the temperatures in the facility. If the fans aren’t synchronized because one or more are not functioning, the power bill starts to climb in a hurry.

“It can be up to double the energy that we use,” says Both.

Insulation

Both says upgrading the insulation in the poultry barn also resulted in less energy being used in keeping it warm.

He’s a firm believer in using blown insulation, saying it allows the builder to get in tight with better coverage around connections and tough places.

Lighting

There are also savings to be found in the lighting in all the facilities on the farm.

All three producers say they saw a significant drop in their power usage when they upgraded to LED.

“Back in the day, we had these 400-watt lightbulbs back there that used a lot of energy,” Both says. “Today with LED and smaller light fixtures we have options. We use less power and have even less light output.”

Where to start

It can be daunting to find the best place to start with so many moving parts in a farming operation.

Bishop says doing soil tests will help understand what inputs are needed and result in less tractor time. All three producers say LED lights and small fixtures can be fast ways to reduce expenses.

As well, most provincial energy providers offer resources for energy savings and conduct energy audits.

Bottom line

Many operations find ways to reduce energy consumption to improve their bottom line. Small efficiencies around the farm – like installing LED light bulbs and using a GPS to map field work – can quickly add up to significant savings. 

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