With fuel contributing heavily to a farmer’s input costs, every fuel increase has an effect on the farm’s bottom line. Following a few basic rules that focus on fuel economy will help to mitigate increasing fuel and energy costs. “Even a small improvement in efficiency can boost the bottom line,” says Godfried Heydenrych, Managing Director ARGO Tractors SA.
Tillage and field operations contribute a major part of the total energy use by crop and livestock production and the McCormick team is not only committed to providing our customers with world class equipment, but we also focus on outstanding service to our clients, and this include advice to help with on-farm efficiency,” Heydenrych said.
The tips that follow may not only help reduce fuel consumption on your farm, but also prolong the life span of your McCormick tractors and equipment as well as protect the environment.
The tips are focused in the following areas:
Tractor efficiency, operation and maintenance
One of the easiest ways to achieve fuel efficiency is to ensure that farm vehicles and equipment are maintained by following the maintenance plan as set out in the operator’s manual. Regular maintenance and keeping farm equipment in top condition will save fuel and money, reduce repair costs, and improve reliability.
A study by the University of Maryland on 50 tractors showed that fuel consumption was reduced by almost 15% after a full service. In addition, the maximum obtainable horsepower of those same tractors increased by an average of about 11% (“Machinery Maintenance for Energy Efficiency”, 2019).
A proper and timeous maintenance schedule carried out by an approved McCormick dealer, will ensure your equipment stay in good condition, extend the life of your equipment and increase fuel efficiency. “Preventative maintenance and services are especially important because it might be possible that the tractors are not running with maximum efficiency,” says Heydenrych.
Maintenance is especially important before and after planting and harvesting.
It is also important to follow the instructions in the McCormick operator’s manual. Fuel, oil and air filters should all be changed routinely according to the operator’s manual. Changing air filters after dusty activities helps to maintain the tractor’s engine efficiency. Blocked air filters can easily increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%. It is especially important to keep the injectors clean in diesel engines. A faulty injector can increase fuel consumption by 10 to 15%.
Choose quality parts when maintaining your tractor. Always ask advice from the Argo dealership nearest to you and ask them to timeously order authentic parts.
It is crucial to use the correct engine oil with the proper viscosity for the specific engine.
Tires should be properly inflated and checked regularly to ensure they are at the recommended inflation pressures for the best traction and the lowest rolling resistance. An under or over inflated tire can make a huge difference in fuel consumption as well as in the life span of the tire. Tires that are under-inflated can decrease traction, create ruts in soft soil and result in the deterioration of the sidewall tread. Over-inflated tires created deterioration on the tread in the middle of the and cause premature tire wear. Over inflation of tires can create soil compaction and increase fuel consumption because of heightened rolling resistance.
Wheel alignment is equally important as properly aligned wheels minimizes resistance from your tires that leads to reduced fuel economy.
The right size tire for a particular tractor also makes a huge difference and the Argo dealer in your area can assist you with this.
Refrain from labouring the tractor engines. Avoid quick starts and minimize idling because they waste fuel and are hard on equipment. Letting an engine idle for 10 minutes during an average day can easily add up to 60 minutes a week and 20 hours/year wasting a great amount of fuel. To lessen the load on the engine and promote fuel efficiency, rather slow down the engine speed (rpm) and shift up to a higher gear to maintain your desired speed.
Make sure that tractors are operated at the correct settings for a specific task.
Match the tractor size to the implement that you will be using in the field. Use smaller tractors for lighter loads and larger tractors for heavier loads. This will save energy and reduce frustration in the field.
It is important to look at the amount of horsepower that will be needed to complete a task in the field before you buy a tractor of a new implement. You might not need to use a large tractor for spraying, spreading manure or smaller tasks. Choose the smallest, lightest and most appropriate tractor for the job for the best fuel economy. You can save a great deal of fuel if you use the correct equipment for a job.
Conservation tillage are becoming more common and although fuel savings may vary, it could be significant compared to traditional or conventional tillage methods. Another benefit is that reduced tillage can cut tractor use in half expanding the life of your tractors.
The speed with weed implements are pulled is another important consideration. When you increase the speed, the power needed also increases and consequently the amount of fuel required to complete the task.
Following precision agriculture principles can help to reduce the fuel cost. If you know your numbers, such as the amount of fuel it takes to establish, grow and harvest a tonne of maize on your farm it will be easier to reduce costs. Using simple data, can help to identify areas for cost-saving.
GPS guidance systems and auto-steer technology are tools that can be used to find the most efficient routes around a field and can eliminates skips or overlaps on the field and reduce the amount of time spent on a field, saving time, as well as fuel. A consistent wheel traffic pattern will consolidate soil compaction instead of having soil compaction all over the field. This will not only allow the crops to grow better in the areas with no compaction but will also bring energy-use efficiency. Compacted soil is easier to drive on and this can increase machine efficiency and help reduce fuel consumption.
General farm efficiency
It is important to store fuel and lubricants correctly. It is not only important for safety but also for efficient use. The team at your local McCormick dealership will assist you in this regard.
Invest in proper fuel storage equipment and store you diesel in approved, well-maintained, secure aboveground storage tanks. Stored incorrectly, fuel can deteriorate and proper storage will prevent fuel loss due to evaporation, leaks and theft. The correct storage will also prevent contamination of fuel from water, sediment or rust. Contaminated fuel can have a huge impact on fuel quality and can contaminate the fuel systems of your tractors and other equipment. This in turn can lead to expensive repairs or replacements. Remember to check your aboveground fuel tanks at least one a year for sediment.
To buy diesel in bulk will bring savings, but it is important to ensure that the stock is used within a reasonable time frame. Keep accurate records of fuel stock and usage. Keep fuel tanks well-shaded and regularly inspect your tanks for leaks.
For more on-farm tips or advise, do not hesitate to contact your nearest McCormick dealer.