Following a few steps can reduce fuel consumption
The financial pressure placed on farmers due to increased input costs has forced producers to look at any and every avenue to save money.
In some cases, producers can reduce their fuel costs by improving the efficiency of their farm vehicles and tractors.
Routine Maintenance: A little bit of routine maintenance can go a long way in optimizing fuel efficiency in vehicles and equipment. Routine maintenance includes replacing air filters, fuel filters and lubricants, changing the oil and getting engine tune-ups. The same can be said for axle oil, rear axle oil and hydraulic oils in tractors. Make sure the oil is consistent with the manufacturer’s requirements. “Just general maintenance is going to make a big difference,” Buddy King, manager at Marion County Equipment, in Pyatt, Ark., said.
Routine maintenance includes conducting thorough visual inspections of equipment, vehicles, and machinery. “If the tractor has a fuel leak or is dripping fuel somewhere, it is pouring out fuel on the ground and wasting money,” King said. Catching the problem quickly can save money. In general, the better and more efficiently the tractor, vehicle or machinery runs the less fuel it needs.
Plan Routes: Planning to accomplish as many tasks as possible in the same trip can save fuel. Even letting the engine idle burns fuel. Extension energy experts recommend another way to save money on fuel is to implement minimum or no-till practices where applicable. Other strategies include combining operations into one pass over a field or reducing the depth of tillage equipment.
Select Proper Machinery: If producers have the option to choose from different size tractors, then it is the best use of resources to select the smallest tractor for lighter jobs and loads. However, if the task requires more horsepower, select a larger tractor. Overloading a small tractor with a larger load, increases fuel consumption. Using a tractor with too much or too little horsepower for the task can negatively impact fuel efficiency.
Selecting the correct implement size for the tractor being used is also key to running a fuel-efficient operation. Avoid using small implements with large tractors. The most efficient combination considers the tractor size and the equipment width.
Proper Ballast and Tire Inflation: Tractors that are properly ballasted and are operating with the recommended tire inflation rates will run more efficiently, therefore reducing fuel consumption. A tractor that is properly ballasted and has the right amount of air pressure in its tires will create the proper wheel slippage that is needed to reduce excess wear on tires. Extension energy experts state 10 percent is typically the optimum slippage level, but the actual level depends on several factors including the type of tractor, the speed its operating and the type of implement being used. Overballasting is a common problem. If a tractor is operating with too much ballast weight, the lugs dig too deeply into the soil. This causes the tractor to use more fuel. If the tractor is running with too little ballast, then the tires will be slipping excessively, causing the tires to rotate more in order to travel the same distance. Producers can make sure they are operating their tractor with the correct amount of ballast and tire pressure by checking and following the tractor’s manufacturer recommendations.