When undertaking the task of reducing fuel consumption, it is necessary to inventory all the equipment in which it is used. Both the combustion of coal, biomass, gas and biogas, diesel and fuel oil must be taken into account. As a rule, the highest consumption is for diesel fuel used mainly for agricultural machinery and means of transport.
One of the key opportunities to reduce diesel consumption is to reduce the number of trips across the field. This is possible by:
- changing agricultural production technology to one that requires less energy input, such as no-till or relatively no-till. This pays off, as many farmers have found out, as long as they have used suitably modified plant protection at the same time;
- aggregation of machinery,
- replacing machinery with modern machines with lower energy requirements, i.e. reducing fuel consumption,
- choosing fieldwork times that ensure lower fuel consumption (e.g. when there is adequate moisture in the soil, especially heavy soils),
- planning field work so that machinery access to and from the field – or between fields – is as short as possible.
Proper organisation of transport contributes significantly to reducing diesel consumption. This can be achieved by planning well the journeys needed and eliminating unnecessary journeys or by combining transport for two or more farms in the vicinity, which requires the ability to cooperate with neighbours. It is also important to choose the right mode of transport, so that, for example, you do not drive a tractor with a trailer to get your daily shopping to the shop.
The modern farm depends on an uninterrupted supply of electricity. For example, modern gas heating cookers are equipped with electronic controls and a lack of electricity can result in a lack of heating. Electricity is still rarely produced on the farm; if it is, it is from generators or photovoltaics. It is mainly supplied by distributors and produced at power stations. However, regardless of where it is produced and on the basis of which technologies it is obtained (in Poland mainly from coal combustion), it is a resource that should be saved, as its production is always associated with a burden on the environment.
In order to optimise electricity consumption and beyond, it is best to carry out a so-called energy audit. This should be carried out by a qualified auditor and, unfortunately, involves a financial outlay. However, this will more than pay for itself within a few years.
If it is not possible to hire a professional, a kind of energy audit (of necessity, to a limited extent) can be carried out by yourself. In practice, this will mean taking an inventory of installations and all energy-using equipment and determining the cost-effectiveness of replacing old and energy-intensive equipment with new, energy-efficient equipment.
The possible use of generators is worth mentioning. This issue is related to the optimisation of electricity consumption, as the correct choice of genset for real needs and only for the necessary operating time is important – producing unnecessary power only results in unnecessary fuel consumption and unnecessary costs. More on this topic.
The plan to optimise electricity consumption will depend on the type of agricultural production, the infrastructure in place and the capacity of each farm. However, it is important to remember that optimisation is an ongoing process because technologies change and, once new, investments become old and their efficiency decreases. The necessary openness to look for new solutions always brings concrete results.