Farm Energy Efficiency Principles

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This curriculum module on Farm Energy Efficiency Principles covers the fundamentals of energy systems.  Topics include basic thermodynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion processes and discussion of energy efficiency and specific applications on farms.


Link to all of the Northeast Farm Energy IQ Curriculum, developed by Extension specialists from Penn State, Rutgers and University of Vermont.

This is part of the Farm Energy Efficiency Curriculum Series:  Farm Energy Efficiency Principles | Energy Audits | EE for Dairy Farms | EE

Northeast Farm Energy IQ CURRICULUM

Farm Energy IQ logo
Farm Energy IQ provides a Northeast regional “train the trainer” program to build the capacity and confidence of Ag Service Providers to help farmers enhance operational sustainability in the context of the farm economy and ecosystem of the region.

NE Farm Energy IQ Toolkit for each topic area includes:

  • Module Overview with instructions for presentations to Ag Service Providers (ASP) and Farmers
  • “Train the Trainer” Presentation
  • Farmer Presentation
  • Educational Materials for educators, service providers, and

Step Controllers Optimize Greenhouse Energy Use

This is a four-step controller with a solar sensor shield and shielded shielded cable, suitable for greenhouse use.

A step controller is an advanced electronic device that controls conditions in a greenhouse better than a mechanical thermostat and can save money in the long run. It uses a solid-state integrated circuit to monitor environmental data in the greenhouse and create output signals that activate equipment based on a set of internal programmed instructions. The microprocessor is a simple, low-cost device …

Using Tractor Test Data for Selecting Farm Tractors

Photo: Iowa Public Television.


The Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory (NTTL) at the University of Nebraska is the official tractor testing station for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the United States. This independent laboratory is responsible for testing a representative tractor of each model sold in the state of Nebraska. It also tests tractors manufactured in the United States and sold in international markets. The laboratory publishes the results of all tests conducted.

The test reports …

Introduction to Farm Equipment Energy Efficiency


Photo: Jason Johnson, NRCS.

Farms have lots of equipment, and most of it uses energy. In some cases, increasing the efficiency of a single piece of equipment or an operation can result in significant energy savings, especially over time. In other situations, many small improvements in efficiency and conservation across the farm can add up to meaningful reductions in energy use and operating costs.

In field-crop based agriculture, liquid fuel use in field operations is equivalent to fertilizers and pesticides …

Selecting Engine and Travel Speeds for Optimal Fuel Efficiency

Photo: Gary E. Wyatt.


The speed at which tractor engines are operated, travel speed in the field, and the load tractors pull all have a major influence on the fuel efficiency of the equipment. Running equipment at optimal speeds and loads can save significantly on fuel costs.

Optimizing Travel Speed

Field travel speed is a major factor in matching tractor to implement. For many operations, the most desirable travel speed is from 5 to 7 miles per hour (6.4 …

Energy Use and Efficiency in Pest Control, Including Pesticide Production, Use, and Management Options

Photo: Soil Science at North Carolina State University.


Up until the last half century, agricultural producers used a variety of cultural and biological controls in an attempt to manage crop pests. The use of pesticides to control weeds, insects, diseases, and other pests is now the predominant force in industrialized agriculture, enhancing the ability of a few workers to cultivate large areas. With the advent of pesticides, human and environmental health have become areas of concern, as has the …

Match Implement Size to Tractor to Save Fuel


Photo:  Gary E. Wyatt.

Matching tractors and implements of appropriate size is a major management decision facing many farmers and ranchers. Proper sizing will minimize time and labor requirements while maintaining efficient field operations.

If the tractor is oversized for the implement, fuel consumption and costs will be higher than necessary for the work done. According to data from Lazarus, a 200 HP MFWD tractor costs $24.27 more per hour of use than a 130 HP MFWD tractor; costs …

Energy-Efficient Use of Fertilizer and Other Nutrients in Agriculture

This equipment is broadcasting fertilizer to build overall soil fertility. Photo: Andy Harper.


An important way farmers can conserve energy is making efficient use of fertilizers and other nutrient sources. This article will introduce farmers to the concepts of fertilizer energy and efficient nutrient use. It discusses how to optimize fertilizer use by soil testing, fertilizer placement, and application and by using farm manures and cover crops as part of a soil fertility plan. It includes a discussion on …

What is a horizontal air flow (HAF) system in a greenhouse?

The horizontal air flow, or HAF, concept utilizes the principle that air moving in a coherent horizontal pattern in a building, like a greenhouse, needs only enough energy to overcome turbulence and friction loss to keep it moving. In other words, you just have to “kick it along.” Small, 1/10- to 1/15-horsepower circulating fans work well in providing the air movement needed. These are made to move air with little resistance as compared to exhaust fans that have blades designed …