Machinery and Maintenance
In order to conserve fuel and machinery energy use, Willard Downs, program chair for agricultural systems management, extension agricultural engineer at the University of Missouri and director of the Missouri AgrAbility Project; recommended that all tires on any machinery or vehicles be inflated to the recommended pressure, under-inflated tires waste energy. Additionally, air filters need to be changed on recommended schedules. He also outlines the following recommendations:

•    Radial tires generally require less energy
•    When possible, gear-up and throttle back

•    Cut the crop only low enough to ensure minimum harvesting loss
•    Harvest crops at the proper moisture content whenever possible (understanding that it may be necessary to harvest earlier due to weather conditions)

Fuel Storage:
•    Cover storage tanks where possible and/or paint them white or another light color
•    Do not store more fuel than is appropriate for the farm; use patterns and fuel market prices

Vehicles in General:
•    Maintain good maintenance on fuel and air-intake systems
•    Do not idle vehicles unnecessarily
•    For cold weather operation, electric engine heaters can reduce the amount of fuel consumed in warming engines to proper operating temperature

Field Operations:
•    Plan vehicle and machinery routes in a way which minimizes distances traveled, especially during harvest
•    If possible, avoid operating machinery in fields that are excessively wet or soft
•    Choose minimum tillage practices when possible
•    Operate tillage equipment only as deep as required
•    Match tractors properly to the implements they will be powering/pulling
•    For tillage operations, generally avoid high drawbar loads and slow field speeds which result in excessive wheel slip and energy waste

Irrigation Pumps
“The irrigation pump must be the most neglected item on today’s modern farm,” said Chris Henry, assistant professor and water management engineer at the University of Arkansas’ Rice Research and Extension Center. “Often out of sight and out of the way, they are always expected to work when we need them the most. It is really amazing that they are as reliable as they are. It is because of this that there is tremendous opportunity to reduce cost, restore capacity and improve reliability.”
Henry recommended the following for irrigation pump maintenance.
•    Have a professional adjust pump bowls or clearance on vertical turbine pumps
•    Have a professional clear bacteria or encrustation on well screens
•    Routine replacement and repair of wear parts such as pump shafts, bearings and impellers. A good rule of thumb is to plan to pull and service a pump every 10-15 years for vertical turbines, even less for submersibles.
•    Measure and record pump output and capacity
•    Measure drawdown and depth to static water to assess pump condition and well capacity
•    Measure the energy use of the power unit to assess the cost of water for each irrigation pumping plant
•    From energy use and water flow information, the best speed to operate a pump can be found for electrical pumps with variable frequency drives

There are trained professionals that can test irrigation pumps, contact your local extension office, NRCS field office, Ducks Unlimited or your local pump dealer.


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