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Tips for Saving Fuel

Research Division > Research > Agricultural Services > Agricultural Engineering
Tips for Saving Fuel on the Farm
By Kenrick Chandon and Luis Agra

Diesel prices have risen sharply over the past few months. These price increases, amounting to some 50% over the last year, have resulting in higher operating costs for all farm machinery including tractors, combined harvesters, and loaders. Farming must continue, despite this added burden, and so the following tips are provided so that growers may minimize the actual cost of conducting essential farm operations.

  1. Train operators in the proper operation of farm tractors and equipment

  2. To decrease the fuel consumed, first match the tractor to the load or operation. Operating tractor in lower gear at higher engine revolutions (throttle) increases fuel consumption (and greatly increases the wear on the drive train components). Where possible, operate in higher gears and lower throttle setting to conserve fuel.

  3. Never use a large, high horsepower tractor to pull small or light loads if a smaller tractor is available. With diesel prices at J$50/litre, fuel cost for a 60-80 Hp tractor doing field work, is estimated at $800 per hour, while fuel for a 80-100 Hp tractor costs $1021 per hour and for a 100-120 Hp tractor the cost is approximately $1227 per hour. In this example, fuel consumption at maximum power was used.

  4. Shut off diesel engines rather than allow idling for long periods.

  5. Avoid unnecessary trips back to the service area from the field. Train operators to service tractors each day prior to starting work or at the end of work. In transport (as against field work), a 60-80 Hp tractor will consume 20 litres per hour costing $1000 per hour at $50/litre.

  6. Fill fuel tanks in the morning. This avoids refuelling trips to the service area or trips from a service truck.

  7. Eliminate all non-essential machinery operations.

  1. Keep tyres inflated to recommended pressure.

  2. Tractors need to be ballasted appropriately. Check tractor owner’s manual for tyre distribution and inflation pressure. Insufficient ballast can cause excessive wheel slip and increase fuel consumption

  3. Check drive tyres for excessive wear. Worn tyres can cause wheel slip from poor traction and increased fuel consumption.

  1. Tillage uses more fuel per hectare than almost any other operation. Reduced tillage should be considered where conditions are suitable (that is, on light to medium soils)
  2. Avoid working in wet fields. This will result in extra tillage, extra power and use of more fuel to break compaction.
  3. Reduce the number of passes by combining operations where possible. Equipment can be modified to do inter-row cultivation while fertilizing or combine spring tines or chiselling tools with moulding discs.
  4. Check tool setting and tighten bolts on tillage equipment to reduce downtime and unnecessary trips to the service area.

  1. Proper maintenance must be done to farm tractors, harvesters, loaders, and other farm vehicles. Poor maintenance will result in higher fuel consumption.

  2. Use oil of recommended viscosity to maximize engine efficiency. Oils that are too thick decrease power and lubrication and increase fuel consumption.

  3. Change oil on the recommended schedule to remove contaminants that can reduce lubrication and increase friction between moving parts.

  4. Clean fuel injectors if black smoke is seen from the exhaust. Fuel injector additive can be used in minor cleaning.

  5. Replace dirty air cleaners which restrict airflow needed for the combustion process. Reduction in the air required for combustion result in excess fuel usage and less available power.

Other vehicles
Use more fuel-efficient vehicles for trips from field to service area. If you are considering buying a farm vehicle consider a diesel pick-up truck. Diesel fuel is cheaper per litre and diesel engines are more fuel efficient than their gasoline counterparts.

Reduced tillage machine eliminates several passages of machines and so saves fuel

Kendal Road Mandeville Manchester
SIA-RD 876-962-2241
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