Rising energy prices are cutting into agricultural profits across the country. Approximately 15% of U.S. agricultural production costs are tied to fuel and electricity — with crop farmers incurring higher costs due to transporting fertilizer and pesticides.
For large- and small-scale farms alike, energy costs are eating away at the operational budget. How much is it costing you? Start with an energy log, like this one from Iowa State University, to determine your total agriculture energy use and costs. Then, plan your future of efficient farming with these five steps.
1. Tackle Quick Fixes
Before overhauling a watering or ventilation system, it’s helpful to start small. Apply the same energy-efficient habits you have at home to your farm. Take advantage of motion sensors or timers so your lights aren’t on unnecessarily. A programmable thermostat can also help cut costs for heating and cooling.
2. Install LED Bulbs
Swapping out incandescent bulbs for light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs is a simple way to reduce energy consumption in agriculture. LED lights last longer, emit less heat, are dimmable and use at least 75% less energy than traditional bulbs. This energy-efficient option is useful in dairy parlors, poultry houses, greenhouses and your offices alike. Bonus: You may qualify for electric utility rebates and Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing to help foot the bill.
3. Perform Equipment Maintenance Regularly
Your pickup runs better — and cheaper — when its tires are properly inflated and its filters are clean. The same goes for your farm equipment. It’s smart to outline a farm maintenance calendar that includes servicing heating and cooling systems, farm vehicles, ventilation, irrigation and crop-drying equipment. In some cases, upgrading is the right answer. For example, energy-efficient fans in hog farms can eventually lead to possible savings and happier, less stressed animals due to proper ventilation.
4. Install Energy-Efficient Watering
Inefficient watering systems, whether livestock waterers or irrigation, cost farmers a precious resource and cash alike. Ag business owners can choose energy-free livestock waterers, which use insulation or ground heat to keep water from freezing. Irrigation improvements are also a smart sustainability move. Low-pressure sprinkler nozzles, premium-efficiency motors and pumps, micro-irrigation systems and irrigation scheduling tools can all help improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and bolster yield.
5. Focus on Local Sales
An often-cited 2003 study from Iowa State University found food items traveled about 1,500 miles from farm to store, compared to just 56 miles for locally grown produce. A 2022 research published in Nature Food found transport accounted for 19% of all food-system emissions. Reducing “food miles” has compounding benefits: less fuel, less emissions, lower costs and better community connection. Consider working with nearby community supported agriculture groups, farmers markets and local-focused restaurants. Or maybe 2023 is the year you dip into agritourism with a U-pick farm to bring customers to you.
Your Investment, Your Protection
Your agricultural insurance coverage should be just as efficient as your new upgrades. Contact your Farm Bureau agent today to ensure your farm business is properly covered.