How to cut back on your fuel costs this spring
It is worthwhile having an idea about the fuel requirements for some of the more power-hungry spring planting jobs such as ploughing and power harrowing that are now taking place.
As of this week, you will pay around €780 per thousand litres of agri diesel, including VAT. Whether you are a big contractor or a part-time farmer, you should have an idea of which spring planting jobs use the most fuel.
Ploughing, for example, uses on average 21 litres of diesel per hectare ploughed, depending on the soil type. At current fuel prices, this comes to a fuel cost per hectare ploughed of €16.40. Equally hard on the pocket is subsoiling, which uses up about 15 litres of diesel per hectare worked, so about €11.70 at current diesel prices.
Spring is always a good time to take stock of what your real fuel costs are and to plan to reduce unnecessary fuel use (see table on opposite page). Some of the variables that have the most considerable effect on fuel consumption are also the easiest to manage.
For example, tyre pressure selection is directly linked to excessive fuel consumption. Unnecessary use of counterweights is another fuel drain. And correct tractor and tillage system selection are two additional ways of managing fuel use.
Let's start with the choice of tractor. There are significant differences in fuel consumption rates between tractors, and data from the OECD tractor tests allow valid comparisons to be made.
For these tests, an individual tractor's fuel use is usually measured in something called grams per kilowatt hour (g/kWh).
Differences between tractor brands, except for tractors of similar or the same power levels, can be significant, so it is worth doing your homework the next time you are on the market for a new tractor.