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Online Estimators to Help You Reduce Energy Use

December 31, 2010
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
 
 

Still trying to nail down a good New Year’s resolution? How about pledging to use less energy on your farm in 2011? 

With some help from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), you should be able to do just that. NRCS has developed four online energy tools designed to help you understand where you are spending your energy dollars and help you reduce those costs.
 
The tools allow you to input your farm-specific information which generates recommended modifications that can save you money.  
 
The four different energy estimators cover:
 
Animal Housing 
This estimator applies to swine, poultry or dairy cattle housing operations. It evaluates major energy costs in lighting, ventilation, heating, milk cooling, water heating and milk harvesting. 
 
Irrigation 
Pumping water for irrigation can be a major drain on the pocketbook. With this estimator, you can analyze your irrigation costs based on your current energy prices, the type of crop and pumping requirements. 
 
Nitrogen
Fertilizer is a high enough input cost, no one wants to contribute any extra dollars to it. With this estimator, you can calculate the costs and potential savings for nitrogen use on your farm. You input the crop you’re growing and the form of N you will use, along with your application rate and price. The estimator then provides you with predicted savings based on alternative application methods and rates.
 
Tillage
How much money would you save if you switched from conventional tillage to ridge-till or no-till? This energy estimator tells you just that. Simply enter your crop acres and local diesel fuel price and see which tillage system pays off for you. 
 
For additional assistance on energy savings, you can contact your local NRCS office. Access the tools online at http://energytools.sc.egov.usda.gov/

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