Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Grain men told they're burning cash by taking rentals too far

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Tillage farmers should be more discerning about where they rent ground so that they don't end up wasting money by burning expensive diesel getting to each block.

A farmer renting land 21km from his base will spend around €150/hd extra on machinery costs every year, Teagasc machinery expert Dermot Forristal told the Energy Efficiency Conference on Thursday.

The fuel burned in getting to that block will cost him almost €60/ha extra per year, conference delegates were told.

"As the scale of your farm increases, you need to be careful that you're not wasting fuel and money on the road instead of working in the field," warned Mr Forristal.

Tillage growers could save up to 50pc (20l/ha) of their fuel costs by switching to min-till methods versus the conventional ploughing system, according to the Teagasc expert.

However the fuel advantages would need to be balanced against negatives such as greater weed pressure, leading to higher chemical costs.

Changes to the ploughing depth could also yield fuel savings, he told the conference.

Ploughing to a depth of 250mm (10 inches) typically uses 18-30l/ha of fuel but this could be slashed by up to 30pc by ploughing to a depth of 175mm (seven inches).

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Careful cultivation of heavy soils could yield fuel savings of 5-30pc, Mr Forristal added.

"Work heavy soils carefully, avoiding creating clods which require huge energy for subsequent breakdown," he said.

Matching tractor size and fuel efficiency to the work the machine will be required to do is another way to save money on expensive diesel, the conference delegates were told.

"An 18pc difference in fuel efficiency between two 110hp tractors doing 1,000 hours of heavy work could mean a difference of as much as €2,257 to your pocket every year," he warned farmers.

Commenting on grassland farms, Mr Forristal said using five-tonne tractors to herd cattle, driving four-wheel drive jeeps and leaving tractors idling in the yard were examples of wasting fuel and energy.

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