Farmstead Tractor and Field
Indoor and Outdoor
Carl Pedersen Livestock Buildings
Extension Energy Educator (page 12)
Kenneth Hellevang, Ph.D., P.E. Livestock
Extension Agricultural Engineer Water Systems
Tom Scherer, Ph.D. (page 14)
Extension Agricultural Engineer
Efficient use of energy becomes very important with rising energy costs.
The purpose of this publication is to give tips on ways to reduce costs for your operation.
By reducing the amount of energy you consume, you not only will be saving money,
but also reducing possible pollution and reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources.
The following suggestions and recommendations should help you
improve energy efficiency and reduce energy expenses.
North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota 58105
June 2008 www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 1
Tractor and Field Operations
Field operations are one of the Facts and Actions: • Wheel slippage generally should be
largest uses of energy on most farms, between 10 percent and 15 percent
so reducing or eliminating operations
Tractor Operation for two-wheel drive tractors and
• Proper maintenance as recom- 8 percent to 10 percent for four-
is helpful to examine for reductions
mended by the manufacturer wheel drive tractors. Wheel slippage
in energy use. Conservation tillage
should be performed regularly on outside of this range means the
systems conserve fuel by reducing
all field equipment. This includes tractor is not weighted properly.
the number of passes across fields.
replacing fuel filters, changing oil If wheel slippage is greater than
No-till or reduced-till systems allow and filter, lubricating bearings and the recommended amount when
farmers to prepare the seedbed, apply having regular engine tuneups. a heavy load is pulled, more
fertilizer and plant the crop in one Implement dealers’ tractor weight should be added in the
operation. No-till drills or air seeders maintenance programs provide an form of cast iron wheel weights
use approximately 0.7 gallon per acre. excellent way to have equipment or fluid in the tires. Either form of
(especially tractors and combines) weight is as effective as the other.
A common conventional tillage system
checked and maintenance opera- If wheel slippage is less than the
for crop production includes a chisel tions completed by professionals recommended amount, the tractor
plow operation using 0.6 gallon per (Figure 1). is carrying too much weight.
acre, a field cultivator using 0.3 gallon
• Properly inflated radial tires This will cause the tires to sink in
per acre and a drill using 0.5 gallon deeper than necessary and increases
significantly reduce slippage,
per acre, for a total of 1.4 gallons per power requirements to move the
compared with bias ply tires.
acre. In this example, conservation tractor across the field, resulting
tillage requires half the fuel as the • The Nebraska Tractor Test in lower efficiency.
conventional tillage system. Laboratory reports the efficiency
of tractors in horsepower hours • Minimum or no-till practices
per gallon, which is similar to the significantly reduce tractor use and
Questions to ask: miles per gallon rating for cars and therefore save energy, money, and
• Are you using radial tires and are pickups. This allows buyers to check machinery wear and maintenance
they properly inflated? and compare tractor efficiencies (Figure 2).
before purchasing. A common • Constantly variable transmissions
• Is your tractor properly matched
efficiency rating for field tractors (CVT) or infinitely variable
to the implement you are using?
is 17 to 19 horsepower hours per transmissions (IVT) are new
• Are you reducing the engine gallon. The higher the number, technologies that help improve
revolutions-per-minute (RPM) the more power produced from fuel efficiency by using electronic
speed when using a larger tractor a gallon of fuel. control of transmission and engine
with a smaller implement? speed for most efficient operation.
• From an energy perspective,
• Is your tractor wheel slippage avoid using small implements with The operator sets the operation
excessive? large tractors. For most efficient speed and the controller determines
operation, the implement should engine speed and transmission
• Is a change or reduction in tillage
be operated using the best matched setting based on load. These
tractor. If a larger tractor is used systems automatically perform
• Is fuel storage shaded? with small implements, use the shift up/throttle down.
• Have your engine fuel filters and air principle of gearing up and • Guidance and auto-steer systems
cleaner been replaced or serviced as throttling down to maintain reduce overlap on field operations,
recommended by the manufacturer? proper ground speed because increase the ability to operate
that will reduce fuel consumption. longer hours (in darkness), reduce
• Have your engine fuel injectors been
Be careful to not overload the operator fatigue and improve
cleaned and serviced properly?
engine when using this method. efficiency of operations.
• Are you using a timer on your
tractor’s engine heater?
2 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
Figure 1. Ensure machinery is properly maintained. Figure 2. Conservation tillage reduces costs.
(Photo courtesy of John Deere Inc.) (Photo courtesy of John Deere Inc.)
• Diesel tractor engines generally Additional Resources
require one to two hours of heater Tractor Test Reports. Nebraska
operation before cold-weather starts. Tractor Test Laboratory. Available
Many farmers and ranchers leave at http://tractortestlab.unl.edu/
heaters plugged in overnight. testreports.htm
A 1,000-watt engine heater
will cost $150 a season to use Machinery publications list.
(based on 10 hours per night at North Dakota State University
Extension Service. Available at
10 cents/kilowatt-hour, or kwh,
and a 150-day heating season).
Operating that same 1,000-watt Conservation Tillage Seeding
heater for only two hours each Equipment, AE-1351, North Dakota
morning will save $120, which State University Extension Service,
is more than enough to pay for 2007. Available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/
the cost of the timer. pubs/ageng/machine/ae1351.htm
Tractor Heater Timer Calculator.
Wisconsin Public Service. Available
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 3
A grain-drying system may be the Facts and Actions: to the meter reading if it is not
most energy-intensive operation done automatically.
in your cropping system. For some
• Remove broken kernels and weed
• Planting earlier-maturing varieties
crops, more energy is used to dry seeds since they reduce dryer
and drying corn in the field is
the crop than for producing. airflow and drying the material
generally more energy efficient
Any improvements that reduce costs money.
and economical until mid-October,
energy needs make a major • Natural air/low-temperature drying
but by mid- to late October,
difference in total farm fuel needs. mechanical drying is recommended. is a slow-drying system but very
When deciding to field dry or to efficient if designed and operated
Questions to ask: use mechanical drying, one needs correctly. Keep the depth of wheat
to consider the potential for grain less than 18 feet and corn less than
• Do you use field drying as much
damage while the grain is in the 22 feet to limit the resistance to
field and harvest efficiency benefits airflow, enabling efficient airflow
• Is your moisture tester accurate? gained by mechanically drying delivery. Select the fan type that
• Are dryer burners adjusted for the grain. provides the most airflow per
maximum efficiency? horsepower at the expected
• Removing moisture below levels
operating static pressure (Figure 3).
• Do you avoid overdrying? required for storage or marketing
reduces the quantity available to • Level the grain to create more
• Do you clean the grain before uniform drying, which is more
sell and increases drying costs.
drying? energy efficient and economical.
Ensure your moisture meter is
• Is a natural air/low-temperature accurate by comparing its reading to • Transitions from the fan to the bin
drying system appropriate for you? one at an elevator or to a reference. should have a cross-sectional area
Apply a temperature adjustment larger than the fan.
• Do you level the grain in a bin
• Is the transition from the fan to
the bin large enough to allow
unrestricted airflow from the fan
to the bin?
• Would a combination high-
temperature/natural air system
or dryeration be appropriate for
• Are you using maximum drying
temperatures that will not
damage the grain?
Drying bin showing
4 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
Figure 4. Schematic of dryeration system.
• The most energy-efficient high- • Combination drying uses about half Additional Resources
temperature drying uses the maxi- the energy that a high-temperature North Dakota State University Extension
mum drying temperature that will cross-flow dryer uses. Combination Service, crop postharvest publications.
not damage grain. Using vacuum drying uses a high-temperature Available at www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/
cooling or a heat-recovery system dryer to reduce the corn moisture abeng/postharvest.htm
increases the energy efficiency to less than 20 percent and then
of a continuous-flow heating and the grain is transferred hot to a Natural Air/Low Temperature Drying,
cooling dryer by about 20 percent. low-temperature/natural air EB-35. North Dakota State University
Extension Service, Fargo, N.D., 1993.
dryer to finish drying.
• Dryeration reduces the energy
requirement of high-temperature • Continuous-flow in-bin dryers Grain Drying AE-701, North Dakota
drying by about 25 percent. Corn and mixed-flow dryers may State University Extension Service,
Fargo, N.D., 1994.
at about 130 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) be 10 percent to 20 percent
coming from the dryer is steeped more efficient than a typical Maintaining Corn Quality for Wet
in a bin without airflow for four high-temperature cross-flow dryer. Milling, AE-1119. North Dakota
to 12 hours. Two to 2.5 percentage State University Extension Service,
points of moisture are removed Fargo, N.D., 1996.
during cooling in the bin. Then
Grain Drying, Handling and Storage
the corn is moved to a storage bin
handbook, Midwest Plan Service,
(Figure 4). MWPS-13, second edition, 1987.
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Available at www.mwps.org
Dryeration and In-Storage Cooling
for Corn Drying. 1998. University
of Minnesota Extension. Available at
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 5
The farm home is the most used • Do you have insulation on the Facts and Actions:
structure on the farm throughout the basement walls from the floor joists
year. Homes should be insulated and to at least 4 feet below ground level?
• An R-value of 49 to 60 in the ceiling
sealed properly to keep energy use to • Do you have a vapor barrier on the
and an R-value of at least 18 in the
a minimum during both the heating warm side of the wall and ceiling
sidewall is recommended. A rough
and cooling seasons. insulation?
estimation to use, depending on
• Is your furnace or boiler more than insulation type, is that an R-value
Questions to ask: 20 years old? of 49 is equivalent to at least
• Is ceiling insulation adequate? • Was your refrigerator manufactured 16 inches of blown-in insulation.
• Are windows sealed to restrict before 1993? • Be sure to provide an air space
air movement? • Are you using a programmable between the eave inlets and the attic
thermostat or thermostat setbacks? space. Blown-in insulation easily can
• Do you have double or triple fill between the roof joists, limiting
glazing on all windows? • Do you have trees or vegetation air movement from the eave to the
• Is insulation placed to the eave planted that provide shade in attic. Vents (air chutes) are available
and in the corners of the attic? the summer and a windbreak and can be installed between the
in the winter? roof joists to help maintain space
• Is the air conditioner properly
for air movement.
sized for the home?
Areas of air infiltration
and leaks in a home.
6 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
• The attic space needs to be venti-
lated with eave and roof or gable
vents to keep heat from building up
under the roof deck. Heat under the
roof in the winter is the major cause
of ice dam formation on a roof.
• Air infiltration is a major energy
waster. To limit this, caulk should be
installed between the window frame
and the siding. A wind-retardant
barrier should be placed under
the siding (Figure 5).
• All doors should have weather
stripping around the edges to
produce a good seal with the frame.
Replace worn weather stripping.
• All windows should be double
or triple glazed. A single-glazed
window will have an R-value of
about 0.9. A double-glazed window
with an inert gas between panes
will have an R-value of between
3.0 and 4.0.
• Basement walls made of concrete or
concrete blocks are poor insulators.
Figure 6. Recommended placement of shelterbelt for a farmstead.
Any part of the wall that extends
above ground and 4 feet below the
soil surface loses a considerable
amount of heat. This occurs even energy that refrigerators made reduces the need for air conditioning
if the basement is not heated. before 1993 will use. in the summer. In the winter, the
At least 2 inches of an extruded plants lose their leaves, allowing the
• If your hot water heater is not a new,
foam board should be installed on sun to penetrate and help warm the
high-efficiency model, install an
the walls extending at least 4 feet house. Plant evergreen trees on the
insulation blanket to reduce standby
below ground level if the basement north side of the house to reduce the
losses. Insulation blankets are
is not insulated on the inside. impact of wind on heating during
inexpensive and pay for themselves
winter months (Figure 6).
• Air conditioning is another large in energy savings within a year.
user of energy. A well-insulated • Flush your water heater monthly
and tight home will help reduce
to reduce sediment buildup in the
this cost. Setting the thermostat Consumers Guide to Home Energy
bottom. Sediment buildup reduces
at 76 °F should provide comfort Savings, 9th edition. American
heating efficiency of the water heater.
for most people and keep energy Council for an Energy-Efficient
• Programmable thermostats can Economy. Available at
costs at a reasonable level.
lead to significant energy savings. http://aceee.org/Consumer/index.htm
• Replace an older furnace or boiler Turning down the thermostat
with a high-efficiency unit with an U. S. government Web site for the Energy
when your home is not occupied
Star program. Resources include home
efficiency greater than 90 percent. or at night can result in a 1 percent improvement recommendations,
• Regular maintenance is important savings for each degree the Energy Star products and appliance
on furnaces to make sure they are thermostat is lowered for an recommendations. Available at
operating efficiently. Check filters eight-hour period. www.energystar.gov
monthly to ensure air flow is not • Planting shelterbelts around homes Wind and Snow Control Around the
restricted. and other buildings is a natural way Farm. Purdue University Extension
• Replace refrigerators that are more to reduce heating and cooling costs. Service, West Lafayette, Ind. 1983.
than 15 years old. New Energy Star Planting deciduous trees on the Available at www.ces.purdue.edu/
models can save up to half of the south and west sides of buildings extmedia/NCR/NCR-191.html
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 7
Indoor and Outdoor Lighting
The design and management of Facts and Actions: use due to poor performance in
your lighting system greatly affects unheated or low-temperature areas.
efficiency. Lighting efficiency is related
Steps on Lighting
• Security yard lighting historically
• Incandescent light bulbs are
to the light output reported as lumens has used mercury vapor lights.
significant energy wasters.
and the amount of energy used. Select Newer, more efficient options are
Replacing incandescent bulbs
bulbs that produce the most lumens available. Mercury vapor lights
with CFLs can provide immediate
per watt of electricity. Use sunlight produce 32 lumens per watt of
savings. An incandescent bulb
as often as possible; it is generally power, while metal halide lights
that uses 100 watts of electricity
the most efficient. emit 62 lumens per watt and
can be replaced with a 23-watt CFL.
high-pressure sodium lights
The 23-watt CFL produces the same
When choosing lighting, remember produce 95 lumens per watt.
amount of light but uses more than
fluorescent lamps produce more Many people opt for pulse-start
75 percent less energy. If you replace
lumens per watt than incandescent metal halide lights even though
five 100-watt incandescent bulbs
bulbs. Fluorescent lamps and sodium they are less efficient because they
with CFLs, you can save $54.02
vapor lamps are more efficient than produce a light that has a truer color
per year (based on 10 cents/kwh
mercury vapor lamps. than the yellow light emitted by
and four hours of use per day).
high-pressure sodium lights.
CFLs also have longer average
Questions to ask: life, lasting 6,000 to 10,000 hours • Timers can ensure that your lights
versus about 1,000 hours for an will be turned off during hours
• Are lights off if they are not needed?
incandescent bulb. CFLs are not when they are not needed.
• Are light fixtures kept clean? generally recommended for outdoor Daylight sensors, motion detectors
• Can you use localized lighting
instead of general lighting for
the job? Table 1. Comparison of lamp types. From Energy Efficient Agricultural Lighting (see link in resources).
• Can incandescent bulbs be replaced
Average Starting Instant Contains
with compact fluorescent lamps Lamp Type Lumens/watt life Color temperature on mercury
• Can high-intensity discharge (HID)
Incandescent 7-20 100 White >-40 °F Yes No
lamps (metal halide, sodium vapor
or T8 fluorescent lamp) be used? Halogen 12-21 2-6000 White >-40°F Yes No
Mercury Vapor 26-39 24,000 White-blue -22°F No* Recycling
• Are lamps in the best location for
Compact 45-55 6,000 -10,000 White -20°F or 0°F Yes Recycling
• Would timers be beneficial in Fluorescent recommended
turning lights on and off? T-12 HO 30-70 9,000 - 12,000 White -20 °F Yes Recycling
• Would lights controlled with a Fluorescent recommended
motion sensor be a possibility? Metal Halide 41-79 10,000 - 20,000 Bluish -22°F No* Recycling
Pulse Start 60-74 15,000 -32,000 Bluish -40°F No* Recycling
Metal Halide recommended
T-12 (1.5-inch) 62-80 9,000 – 12,000 White 50 °F Yes Recycling
T-8 HO Fluorescent 81 18,000 White -20 °F Yes Recycling
High-pressure 66-97 24,000 Yellow-orange -40 °F No* Recycling
T-8 (1-inch) 76-93 15,000 – 20,000 White 0 °F Yes Recycling
T-5 (5/8-inch) 83-85 20,000 White 0 °F Yes Recycling
Fluorescent # recommended
Figure 7. Halogen yard light with
a motion detector. * Requires warmup to reach full output; #: not recommended for ag applications
8 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
and timers can be set for security • HID lights consume 50 percent Additional Resources
yard lighting that turns on at night to 90 percent less energy than Energy Efficient Agricultural Lighting,
or when motion occurs and then comparable incandescent bulbs, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
turns off after a few hours when but take several minutes to achieve Available at http://learningstore.uwex.
activity is lower, after midnight rated intensity. They generally are edu/Energy-Efficient-Agricultural-
for example. used to illuminate large areas. Lighting-P132C29.aspx
• Cleaning dust off reflective surfaces • Motion sensors can be used to turn U. S. government Web site for the
of light fixtures will help maintain lights on in areas when someone Energy Star program. Available at
light output. Dust absorbs light enters the room or motion occurs www.energystar.gov
waves and will reduce the output outdoors. They then turn the lights
of lights. off after a period of time when no General electric online calculator to
determine savings by replacing
motion is sensed, eliminating
• Providing spot lighting for work incandescent bulbs with CFLs.
unnecessary electrical usage.
areas can reduce the need for more Available at www.gelighting.com/na/
costly general lighting. home_lighting/products/
Various sizes and
65 watt CFL
for 175 watt
mercury vapor yard light
need to be
Comparison of T-12, T-8 and T-5 fluorescent bulbs in sealed
Figure 8. Energy efficient lights.
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 9
The farm shop is often the second • Insulation around the shop founda- • Double- or triple-glazed windows
most used building during the tion should be at least 2 inches of help reduce heat loss and moisture
winter after the home. It needs extruded polystyrene (enclosed cell condensation. A window with single
to be well-insulated and sealed insulation) installed at least 2 feet glazing will have an R-value of
to keep energy use to a minimum. below ground level. Any concrete about 0.9, whereas a double-glazed
exposed above ground level needs window with an inert gas between
insulation and the insulation above panes will have an R-value of 3.0
Questions to ask: ground needs to be covered to to 4.0
• Is insulation adequate in the walls, prevent damage from birds, rodents
• The large doors for bringing
ceiling and doors of the shop? and sunlight. Be sure to extend the
machinery in and out of the shop
insulation cover well below ground
• Do the doors fit tightly to limit should face away from prevailing
level (6 inches or more).
air infiltration? winter winds. Prevailing winter
• Waste engine oil is an excellent winds are usually from the north-
• Do you have insulation around
source of heat. Used engine oil west. Installing the large doors
the shop floor and foundation that
tends to accumulate extremely fast facing south or east will prevent a
extends at least 2 feet below ground?
during times when farm engines are considerable amount of heat loss
• Do you use your waste engine oil operating. Store this oil in a large when doors are opened.
for heating the shop? barrel to use for heating during
• Use zone heating. Heat only
• Do you have good, economical the winter. Several manufacturers
the areas that need to be heated.
lighting in the shop? make waste oil heaters and many
Directional heaters over work
heaters can use fuel oil if the waste
• Do you have a minimal amount benches are examples. Separating
oil runs out.
of windows in the shop? the shop from the storage area,
• Large or many windows increase even with a plastic curtain, can
• Are windows double glazed? heat loss and limit useable wall save a significant amount of heat.
• Do large shop doors face south space for tools. They usually provide
• Dense shelterbelts reduce the wind
or east? little light in the shop as the days
velocity and reduce the energy
are short in winter and the light
• Do you have a dense shelterbelt needed to heat the shop. Short,
they provide is usually near the
on the west and north side of dense trees should be located
wall where they are installed.
your farmstead? on the edge of the shelterbelt and
• Good overhead lighting is a the taller trees located in the middle.
Facts and Actions: necessity in a shop. Use metal Shelterbelts should be at least
halide or T-8 fluorescent lamps for 100 feet from the shop to reduce
Farm Shop economical lighting that will keep the problem of snow buildup
• Insulation with an R-30 to R-40 electricity use to a minimum and near the shop.
value in the ceiling and R-18 value give good lighting to work on
in the sidewalls is recommended. equipment. Metal halides are slow to Additional Resources
Doors should have an R-value of come on, so one or two incandescent
Planning Farm Shops, AE-1066,
10 to 12. bulbs may be helpful to provide North Dakota State University
• If doors do not fit tightly and light when you enter the shop. Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105.
allow significant amounts of cold Available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/
air in, weather stripping should be ageng/structu/ae1066w.htm
installed. Air infiltration is one of Farm Shop Plans Book, MWPS-26,
the largest heat wasters in many Midwest Plan Service, Iowa State
buildings. University, Ames, Iowa. Available
10 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
Agricultural irrigation is an energy- • If you have iron in the irrigation Annual chlorination will control
intensive operation. Pressurized water, do you chlorinate the well the iron bacteria.
irrigation systems, especially center- each year?
• Regular pump maintenance includes
pivot sprinkler, use a high flow-rate • If you have an electric motor, can proper greasing and filling oil
pump and require a large electric you subscribe to controlled electric reservoirs every year. Proper
motor or engine. The major causes of rates (off-peak) from your electric adjustment of packing glands and
increased energy use are with pipeline supplier? adjusting impellers on deep well
leaks, engine efficiency, pump turbines on a regular basis are very
efficiency and well maintenance. Facts and Actions: important. Replacing diesel pump
motors with electric motors can
Poor water application uniformity also Irrigation have significant cost savings.
can affect energy use by increasing
• Use of consistent irrigation
pumping time. On center-pivot • Most electric suppliers offer
scheduling often can reduce energy
systems, the major causes of poor controlled (off-peak) electric rates
use by 7 percent to 30 percent. Using
water application uniformity are an ET-based irrigation scheduling for irrigation pumping systems.
worn or wrong size sprinkler nozzles, system can ensure you are not Using off-peak power rates can
missing sprinkler heads and leaking under or overwatering the crop. reduce pumping costs significantly,
boots. Using a consistent method compared with regular power rates.
• The average life expectancy of a However, off-peak rates should
of irrigation scheduling during
sprinkler head is about seven years. not be used with high-value crops
the growing season can optimize Sprinkler head nozzle diameter is
water application. such as potatoes and onions.
very important for uniform water Ask your electric supplier
application and the nozzle diameter whether off-peak power rates
Questions to ask: can increase with use, especially if would work for your operation.
sand or grit gets into the water. Poor
• Do you have a good procedure for
application uniformity increases
determining when to irrigate and Additional Resources
water pumping time and therefore
how much water to apply? Do you Care and Maintenance of Irrigation
energy use. Replace broken
use evapotranspiration (ET)-based Wells, AE-97. North Dakota State
sprinkler heads as soon as possible.
irrigation scheduling? University Extension Service. Fargo,
Do a “can test” to check the unifor-
N.D., 2005. Available at www.ag.ndsu.
• Are the sprinkler nozzles on your mity of the application pattern. edu/pubs/ageng/irrigate/ae97w.htm
center pivot providing a uniform Repair all leaks on the center
application pattern along the full pivot as soon as they are noticed. Irrigation Water Pumps, AE-1057.
length? Have the sprinkler heads North Dakota State University
• Buried pipelines rarely have leaks
and nozzles been on the pivot Extension Service. Fargo, N.D. 1993.
unless they were not pumped out Available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/
more than seven years? Have you
before winter. However, above- ageng/irrigate/ae1057w.htm
checked nozzle sizes to see that they
ground pipelines frequently have
match the nozzle sizes listed in the Irrigation Scheduling Checkbook
worn gaskets and up to 30 percent
sprinkler package printout from Method Tutorial. University of
of the water can be lost. Replace
your dealer? Minnesota Extension Service, 2002.
leaking gaskets and plug any holes.
Available at www.extension.umn.edu/
• Do you annually check for pipeline
• The drawdown in a well increases if distribution/cropsystems/DC1322.html
leaks, missing nozzles and nozzles
the screen becomes plugged, greatly
that are not rotating properly? Irrigation testing – link to uniformity
increasing pumping costs. Screens
testing procedure (can test) and
• If you have an engine powering the become plugged due to mineral spreadsheet for calculating
pump, do you change the oil and incrustation or iron bacteria. Mineral coefficient of uniformity. University
filter according to manufacturer incrustation occurs through time. By of Wisconsin-Madison. Available at
recommendations? Are the pump measuring the static and pumping www.uwex.edu/energy/irrigation.html
and motor or engine receiving water levels each year, the increase
Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators,
regular annual maintenance? in drawdown can be measured and
National Sustainable Agriculture
• Do you record the static and corrective action initiated. Iron in
Information Service. 2006. Available at
pumping water levels in the the water usually means iron http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/
well every year? bacteria are present in the well. energytips_irrig.pdf
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 11
Ventilation is needed in confined Questions to ask: Facts and Actions:
livestock structures to remove heat
and moisture and maintain air quality.
• Are fan blades, motors and Livestock Buildings
housings clean? • Keeping dust off fan components
The amount of ventilation needed
• Can you use natural ventilation helps motors operate at a cooler
varies depending on outside air
successfully? temperature and prolongs their life.
temperature, inside temperature,
• Are ventilation fans the right size Clean blades move more air. Dirt,
amount of moisture to be removed,
for the number of animals in the chaff and animal hair clinging to
odors to be controlled and the protective guards reduces air flow.
heat produced by the animals
• Do automatic controls work for • Natural ventilation uses airflow
your application? passages that allow clean air to
Reducing the energy needed for enter a building and displace
• Would zone heating and ventilation
ventilation equipment involves stagnate or dirty air at a natural exit.
systems be appropriate?
determining the number of fans This is caused by a difference in
needed to do the job and operating • Would an air-to-air heat exchanger building pressure and atmospheric
only those fans for as short a time be appropriate? pressure or thermal buoyancy of air.
as possible. For example, winter • Is insulation adequate to prevent Using natural ventilation wherever
ventilation usually will be less than condensation problems? possible will save energy by
reducing the number of ventilation
spring or fall ventilation and much • Are heating systems for livestock fans needed for an air exchange.
less than summer ventilation. adjusted properly? Opening curtain side walls with
Summer ventilation is usually
• Are thermostats accurate and buildings that are equipped with
high due to high heat loads. them is an example.
located so that they are not affected
Winter ventilation is usually low due
by drafts and direct sunlight? • Sizing fans correctly for building
to only needing enough air exchange
• Is more building insulation ventilation is important. Fans
to remove moisture and maintain air
necessary? larger than necessary waste energy
quality. Fan efficiency is reduced if
and will produce a cold air blast in
obstructions are near or in front • Are you using the most
the winter, while undersized fans
of fans. energy-efficient technology
will not adequately exchange
for your livestock operations?
Improved energy efficiency for building air.
livestock buildings has been made • Automatically controlled
possible through several advances ventilation systems reduce
in technology. Examples can be found unnecessary fan operation and
in efficient heat lamps, creep pads provide more uniform climate
and more energy-efficient milking control. Variable-speed controllers
operations. can be used to control the amount
of air exhausted by slowing or
increasing the speed of a fan based
on the building temperature.
• Select fans that are energy efficient.
Fan efficiency is measured as
cfm/watt (cubic feet per minute
per watt) or air moved per energy
consumed at a specific static
pressure. The difference between
the best and worst performing fans
is two-fold; therefore, if you make a
poor choice, ventilation costs could
be twice what they could have been
by choosing a more efficient fan.
12 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
Two sources of independent
test data for ventilation fans are
available: 1) BESS Lab – University
of Illinois and 2) Air Movement
Control Association. Both have
on online access to fan test results;
see links below.
• Fans with diffuser or discharge
cones are 12 percent to 26 percent
more efficient than fans without
• Large-diameter fans are more
efficient than smaller-diameter fans.
• Significant energy savings can be
achieved through zone heating.
The savings come from heating or
ventilating only rooms or areas of
buildings that are used or need more
• Insulation in livestock confinement
buildings is necessary to reduce heat Figure 9. Livestock air ventilation system.
loss and reduce the problem of
condensation on walls and ceiling.
• Beef and dairy calves may not
require supplemental heat unless
they are born in very inclement
Additional Resources Midwest Plan Service publications:
Low-cost agricultural publications
weather. A “hot box” or homemade Agricultural Ventilation Fan Performance
available through Iowa State
spotlight heating unit may be useful Tests. BESS lab University of Illinois,
University at www.mwps.org
for this purpose. Urbana, Ill. Available at
www.bess.uiuc.edu/type.asp Beef Housing and Equipment
• Baby swine and poultry require very
Handbook, Midwest Plan Service,
precise temperature and humidity Air Movement Control Association.
MWPS-6. Fourth Edition, 1987.
regulation that is normally Available at www.amca.org/
engineered into the building; Dairy Freestall Housing and
Fan Performance and Efficiency
however, additional or spot heat Equipment, Midwest Plan Service,
for Animal Ventilation Systems.
can be provided if required. Certain MWPS-7. Seventh Edition, 2000.
University of Minnesota Extension
safety precautions need to be Service, 1994. Available at Swine Farrowing Handbook, Midwest
considered. Heated creep pads for www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/ Plan Service, MWPS-40. 1992.
swine are more energy efficient than livestocksystems/DI0956.html
heat lamps and provide more evenly Sheep Housing and Equipment
Save Energy in the Farrowing Room Handbook. Midwest Plan Service.
with Hovers. University of Minnesota MWPS-3. Fourth Edition, 2002.
• On dairy farms, using variable- Extension Service, 1994. Available at
speed drives for vacuum systems www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/ Horse Facilities handbook. Midwest
can save up to 60 percent on energy livestocksystems/DI6513.html Plan Service, MWPS-60. 2004.
costs normally spent moving
Dairy Farm Energy Management
Handbook. Wisconsin Department
• Milk precoolers likely will save of Agriculture, Trade and
15 percent to 30 percent per month Consumer Protection. Available at
on milk cooling energy costs. http://datcp.state.wi.us/fs/environment/
The precooler uses well water to dfeh/index.jsp
cool the milk before it goes into
the bulk tank.
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 13
Livestock Water Systems
A dependable supply of drinking Facts and Actions: • Energy-free or frost-free water
water is essential in any livestock fountains can be operated without
production facility. Keeping the water
Livestock Water Systems the need for a heater even in harsh
• Adequate water for livestock is winters of the northern Plains.
from freezing is important so the
essential. Water fountains that These types of water fountains
animals can drink at any time.
overflow are costly from the cover the water surface with balls,
Most of the energy used by a livestock
standpoint of pumping the excess lids or small openings to reduce
water fountain is used to keep the
water or purchasing the water heat losses. They require no
water from freezing. Insulation around from a rural water supplier. supplemental energy, but require
the automatic waterer or water tank
• Improperly working thermostats are a minimum number of animals
and protection from the wind will
a common problem. Test to make drinking from the fountain to keep
help reduce the heat loss and thereby from freezing. They can save $60
sure the thermostat is functioning
reduce the energy needed. to several hundred dollars per year,
Keeping float valves in good condition depending on the type of fountain
• Adjust thermostats to maintain (Figure 8).
so they don’t stick open or leak will frost-free water. Groundwater
reduce energy needs by reducing temperatures are generally between • Insulate the concrete surface inside
the amount of water that must be 42 °F and 52 °F, so make sure the fountains and add insulation inside
pumped, heated or evaporated. setting is below that level so the the fountain body and inside the
The amount of ice and mud around heater does not turn on when top 3 feet of the riser pipe.
waterers also will be reduced. animals drink. Thermostat settings • When installing the fountain,
from 32 to 34 °F will provide use 12-inch-diameter (minimum)
Questions to ask: heat well for riser pipe.
• Are you using a water fountain • Make sure to protect the water
with a covered water surface? fountain from the wind.
• Do water bowl covers fit snuggly,
but can be easily opened by
• Is the thermostat set so that the
water does not freeze but not so
high that it turns the heater on
when livestock drink? (32 to 34 °F)
• Is the thermostat working properly?
• Is good wind protection around
the water fountain?
• Do float valves leak?
• Would extra insulation be
beneficial? Can it be installed?
• Is the waterer the right size for
the number of animals?
Figure 10. Energy-free livestock water fountain.
(Photo courtesy of Ritchie Industries Inc.)
14 • A-1366 Farmstead Energy Audit
Energy Free Water Fountains,
Agri-fact, Alberta Agriculture and
Rural Development, Alberta, Canada.
Available at www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/
Midwest Plan Service publications:
Low-cost agricultural publications
available through Iowa State
University, Ames, Iowa, at
Beef Housing and Equipment
Handbook, Midwest Plan Service,
MWPS-6. Fourth Edition, 1987.
Dairy Freestall Housing and
Equipment, Midwest Plan Service,
MWPS-7. Seventh Edition, 2000.
Swine Farrowing Handbook, Midwest
Plan Service, MWPS-40. 1992.
Sheep Housing and Equipment
Handbook. Midwest Plan Service.
MWPS-3. Fourth Edition, 2002.
Horse Facilities handbook. Midwest
Plan Service, MWPS-60. 2004.
www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu • 15
This is not a complete list of ways to make your operation more cost effective and
energy efficient. The hope is that this guide will serve as a starting point for energy
savings and that you will consider additional items that are specific to your operation.
If you have questions about techniques for implementing any conservation measures,
contact your local Extension office. Additional sources of information can be found
at the following Web sites:
• The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, at
• North Dakota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Energy Programs, found at
• North Dakota State University Extension Service, Fargo, N.D., energy home page found at
For more information about energy
from the NDSU Extension Service:
Vern Anderson, Ph.D., Animal Scientist. North Dakota State University, Carrington Research Extension Center.
William Casady, Ph.D., P.E., Associate Professor. University of Missouri.
Chet Hill, Agriculture Diversification Specialist. North Dakota State University Extension Service.
Randy Hauck, Member Services Manager. Verendrye Electric Cooperative, Velva, N,D.
Larry Oswald, CEM. Manager energy programs. Montana Dakota Utilities.
Scott Sanford, Senior Outreach Specialist. University of Wisconsin, Madison.
This publication may be copied for noncommercial, educational purposes in its entirety with no changes. Requests to use any portion of the document
(including text, graphics or photos) should be sent to email@example.com. Include exactly what is requested for use and how it will be used.
For more information on this and other topics, see: www.ag.ndsu.edu
North Dakota State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, Vietnam Era Veterans status, sexual orientation, marital status, or public
16 • status. Farmstead Energy Audit
assistanceA-1366Direct inquiries to the Executive Director and Chief Diversity Officer, 202 Old Main, (701) 231-7708. 2M-6-08