Don't forget about agriculture's potential energy savings
Fuel used in farming machinery represents more than 50% of the energy consumed in agriculture, so introducing fuel saving measures brings significant cost savings to farming businesses and reduces CO2 emissions.
Over the last 3 years, pilot groups of farmers and foresters from across 9 countries participating in the Intelligent Energy Europe funded Efficient20 project have been measuring their fuel consumption and trying out fuel saving techniques. Over 2,000 separate fuel measurements have been recorded for a wide range of farming activities, with nearly 150 comparative tests performed to assess the effectiveness of fuel efficiency measures such as reducing the tractor’s engine speed, adjusting tyre pressures, optimising ballast and changing implement settings.
Across all of these test an average fuel saving of 14% was achieved. Eco-driving (keeping engine revs within the tractor’s most efficient range) was the most popular solution tested, with average fuel savings of 27% reported for manure and slurry spreading, 19% savings for transport activities, 12% for soil tillage and for harvesting and savings of 6% achieved for spraying. Adjusting tyre pressures and implement settings proved to be reliable ways of saving fuel, with reductions of 10% and 18% recorded respectively.
While the main focus of participating farmers was on reducing the fuel used per hectare, in some cases lower fuel consumption was matched with an increase in working speed – a double saving!