Energy consumption is a significant concern for farmers as it directly affects the cost of production and the environment. With the rise in global population, the demand for food is increasing, which leads to increased farming activities and, in turn, higher energy consumption. The amount of energy consumed in farming can be classified into two categories: direct and indirect.
A study from the NSW Department of Cotton Research and Development Corporation revealed that the average cost of running energy on a farm is AUD$310 per hectare. The cost of running a farm is hefty, not only for farmers, but also for the environment.
Direct energy consumption involves the use of fuel and electricity for utilities such as tractors, harvesters, and irrigation systems. Indirect energy consumption involves inputs, such as fertilisers, pesticides, and seedlings. For cotton growers alone, 88% of their energy needs are purely fulfilled with diesel.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
One of the methods used to decrease energy usage is utilising renewable energy sources, such as solar power, wind generated power or biofuels. Solar panels can be used to generate electricity, which can be used to power farming equipment, while wind turbines can be used to produce wind energy. Biofuels are produced using crops grown on the farm to fuel vehicles, some farmers have started growing masses of crops dedicated specifically to biofuel plants. The use of renewable energy sources not only reduces the energy consumption of farming but also reduces carbon emissions, making it an environmentally friendly option.
Irrigation is another area where energy consumption can be reduced. Traditional irrigation methods such as flood irrigation are inefficient and wastes vast amounts of water and energy. Modern irrigation techniques, like drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers use water more efficiently. The benefits of modern irrigation include increased soil productivity, crops are protected from extreme temperatures, and soil conservation – leading to increased crop yields and overall improved soil health.
It is a monumental task to reduce direct energy consumption, however farmers can also reduce indirect energy consumption by adopting sustainable agriculture practices. Sustainable farming practices help reduce indirect energy consumption, these practices include crop rotation, intercropping, and the use of organic fertilisers. Crop rotation involves planting various types of crops in a field in a specific sequence to improve soil fertility and reduce the need for fertilisers. Intercropping involves planting two or more crops in the same field, which helps to improve soil moisture retention, reduces the risks of flooding, and pollutants are naturally filtered. Organic fertilisers, such as compost and animal matter, are made from natural materials, making them eco-friendly. They help improve soil structure, reduce the risk of toxic build up unlike chemical fertilisers.
Take power over your energy usage
Farmers can reduce energy consumption by using renewable energy sources, modern irrigation techniques, and sustainable agriculture practices. By adopting these practices, farmers can improve the sustainability of their operations and reduce their environmental impact while still meeting the growing demand for food.
Did you know that Farmdeck has a specific IoT solution to help you monitor your energy consumption?
With our Energy Consumption Monitoring feature, you are able to track your electricity consumption as you go which can help avoid bad surprises when receiving your energy bill at the end of the quarter. Look at your energy usage trends per circuit, during various times of the day, and see how you can reduce your electricity consumption. Energy Consumption insights can be used to discover what your standby, after-hours, and/or overnight energy usage is, if bills from your energy company are inflated, and what behaviour you need to change to substantially reduce energy consumption.
Keep track of your energy usage for each circuit around your farm and homestead — anywhere, anytime from any device.
Farmdeck is an all-in-one tool that can help you with monitoring many activities on your farm, giving you invaluable insights – like our electric fence monitoring solution, vehicle and pump tracking, and much more. Interested in learning more? Check out our IoT features page or reach out to us and let us help you create an efficient, smart farm.