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Boost Profits by Saving on Fuel

Since diesel prices are getting higher, it’s now necessary to use fuel economically. Since the amount you spend on fuel is probably quite high, small shortcuts could mean big saving. A low-viscosity oil might be one way to save big, for example, and that’s just one way to save on fuel.

Below is a tactical approach to implement into the way you work so that you can save as much as possible. Make sure each tactic is practical for how you run your farm. This advice will not only save on fuel, but also help your equipment last longer and be better for the environment. Most of these tips don’t cost any money, but save you a lot right away. Even the suggestions that do cost some money, usually have a payback that is worth your investment. These tips are categorized in three areas:

  • Maintenance and Operation of Equipment
  • Practices on the Field
  • Storage of Fuel

Maintenance and Operation of Equipment

Keep your machine maintained.

As long as you keep your equipment in tip top shape, you’ll be saving money on fuel, not to mention saving on repair costs, reducing emissions, and being able to rely on your vehicles. Especially make sure to have a maintenance check before harvest and after harvest. During an inspection, mechanics will check for fuel inefficiencies that you might not notice, like an air filter that is blocked. Such a blockage could make your machine consume 20 percent more fuel. A spark plug that is bad might cost you an increased 10 to 15 percent in fuel. Clean injectors are also an important maintenance point for diesel engines. If you keep your vehicles maintained, you won’t just get better fuel efficiency, you’ll also be able to keep your equipment longer.

Maintenance includes tune-ups, changing air, fuel and oil filters, changing oil, and using the right oil. An OEM is able to handle 10W30, so to save on fuel you could tray a low-viscosity oil like Delo 400 XLE Synblend SAE 10W30. It has been shown to improve fuel efficiency by 1 percent. Lower viscosity oils helps vehicles save immediately on fuel without having to invest in expensive hardware.

Use Your Gears Wisely

When you run your vehicle at the right RPM, you’re doing the best thing you can do to save on fuel. Read up or ask about your vehicle’s correct RPM. When your pulling a big load, then simply gear up and throttle down.

Check Tire Inflation

An under-inflated will cost you a lot. For example, even six psi low, your fuel consumption might go up three percent. Low inflation will also hurt your tires. Tires that are not properly inflated don’t have as much traction, make ruts and break down sidewall tread.

When it gets cold, check your tires regularly since low temperatures tend to lower the pressure in tires.

If your tires are too inflated, that is also bad. Your tires will wear out more quickly, the soil will compact more under the pressure, and it can also cost you more in fuel since the machine has more rolling resistance.

In addition to regularly checking your tires’ pressure, be sure that your wheels are balanced and aligned, which will minimize resistance and thus improve fuel economy.

Use Your Engine to Your Advantage

Just a few small changes can save a lot. Don’t start your engine too quickly since that will put undue pressure on the engine and cost more in fuel. Most engines work best when the water is between 165 and 185 degrees. If the engine is running at 100 degrees, it will consume about 25 percent more fuel.

Idle as little as possible since idling uses about 15 to 20 percent of farmers’ fuel, on average. Ten minutes of idling each day adds up 61 hours each year. On a 75-horsepower tractor, that’s 31 gallons more of fuel!

Upgrades to more fuel-efficient machines are always a good way to save on fuel, of course. Make sure to look at the fuel specs if your’e looking to buy a new piece of equipment. Even if a piece of equipment is slightly more expensive, a more fuel-efficient machine may be worth it in the long run.

Practices on the Field

If you change your habits on the field, you could save a lot on fuel. Think about it: Are there particular practices that are guzzling your fuel budget? Examine your day to day work and think about how good planning or a small investment could save on fuel. A larger seed hopper might save you from running back and forth to get refills. You might have such a small disk that you need to pass the field more times than you would with a larger disk. Or you might have a disk so wide that your engine is stressed under the weight. You might be using a normal vehicle for tasks like rock picking, spraying and spreading when you could be using a lighter vehicle like an ATV.

Make sure you are using the right machine for the right job. Get the smallest tractor that can do the job so it is most fuel-efficient. A machine that has too much or too little horsepower will drain your fuel budget.

Till Less

There are methods known as minimum tillage or conservation tillage that have farmers growing crops with less cultivation. This method could save you $10 an acre. As a bonus, you’ll use your tractor half as much.

Storage of Fuel

Fuel tank may lose a lot of fuel just through leaks or evaporation. For example, consider a 300-gallon tank. This tank could lose 120 gallons every year through evaporation. Cut that down by 15 percent by:

–       Shading your tanks well.

–       Painting your tanks aluminum or white to reflect heat. Lighter colors discourage evaporation.

–       Trade in your old gas caps for pressure-relief vacuum caps.

–       Lock your tanks.

–        Look for leaks on a regular basis.

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