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

There’s no avoiding this reality in farming:  Direct energy accounts for 5 to 7 percent of farm expenditures; indirect energy accounts for 9 to 10 percent. Because small farms operate on profit margins well under 10 percent, efficiency measures that reduce energy costs can make a real impact.

The following websites offer online tools that can be used to make high-level efficiency, cost savings calculations. While these calculators do not offer the level of detail recommended for project implementation, they will give a general sense of the size of opportunity linked to a best management practice for your operations.

Below you'll find links to several energy calculators. Keep in mind that each of the tools described here has its own unique uses and limits. Check them out to see which might work for your operation.


Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators

Especially in times of high energy costs, efficient irrigation equipment is essential to the viability of farms and ranches. According to USDA's 2003 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey, there were 43 million pump-irrigated acres in the United States, with energy costs for these systems averaging $1.5 billion per year, or $36 per irrigated acre. Farms spent an additional $12 per acre, on average, to maintain and repair irrigation equipment.

This publication from the National Center for Appropriate Technology, ATTRA — National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service describes ways that irrigators can save energy to reduce irrigation costs. It describes recommended irrigation system installations, explains how utilities charge their irrigation customers for electricity and describes common causes of wasted energy, as well as common energy-saving hard-ware improvements. It also includes a do-it-yourself method to estimate the efficiency of electrically powered irrigation systems.

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