Logical Choice

Published online: May 07, 2021 Articles, Irrigation, New Products Michael Newland, Propane Education & Research Council
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This article appears in the May 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

There has never been a better time to consider propane, and the choice could be even more valuable for your operation and bottom line than you realize. Here is a breakdown of five of the top reasons to consider propane-powered irrigation engines:

Lower Up-Front & Long-Term Costs

Being a producer is not easy. All the equipment necessary to get the job done — and done well — is far from cheap. Because these costs add up so quickly, producers must carefully consider not only the purchase costs but the long-term costs of any piece of new equipment. Propane-powered equipment costs 20 to 40 percent less than diesel engines for comparable power, but observing the total cost of ownership is where propane engines really outshine competitors. Propane burns cleaner and leaves fewer deposits on engine components, which leads to fewer maintenance issues and an extended engine life. Additionally, propane engines reduce fuel costs per hour by about 45 percent compared to diesel. The PERC-sponsored Propane Farm Incentive Program is another way producers can save even more on the purchase of propane-powered equipment, with incentives of up to $5,000 in exchange for real-world data.

Reduce Emissions, Easily Meet Tier 4 Standards

As the U.S. continues to make the shift toward more renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources, American-made propane is a leader in this clean energy revolution. Propane produces 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid system. Propane-powered engines also produce up to 24 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, and 11 percent fewer emissions than diesel engines.

As an approved alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act of 1990, propane use ensures users easily and conveniently meet all Tier 4 Standards and EPA regulations. This means less time or money wasted on additional equipment or steps necessary to make diesel engines meet the same standards, and more time to concentrate on what matters most to farmers: running their operation.

Proven Performance & Productivity

Propane-powered engines make it possible to cut costs without sacrificing the power and clean operation your farm needs. While the environmental benefits and up-front cost savings of propane engines are great benefits, you might be wondering what that means in terms of actual horsepower. Fear no more, as today’s propane-powered engines are more powerful and efficient than ever before. In fact, compared with natural gas, propane-powered engines provide approximately 10 percent more horsepower per unit, and new engines can provide up to 300 horsepower of continuous power.

Complete with the latest technological advancements and features, propane-powered irrigation engines are a great choice for many agricultural operations. Beyond the engines themselves, additional customization options and features like remote monitoring are available to make sure producers can get the best engines for their operations, with added convenience and benefits.

Take Back Control of Your Farm

Speaking of convenience, the use of propane-powered equipment also gives producers the freedom to power their farm anytime, anywhere, without worrying about access to the gas line or power grid system. Because they are not relying on electricity, producers can remove the risk of unexpected power outages, which can quickly wreak havoc on an agricultural operation. Producers can also avoid peak pricing and rest easy knowing they will have the uninterrupted power they need to keep their operations running smoothly.

With more than 60,000 miles of pipeline and thousands of fuel dealers, propane is readily available throughout the U.S., and because it does not degrade over time, it can be stored on-site to be used whenever farmers need it. With propane engines, farmers can take back control of their farms with continuous access to reliable propane.

The Future of Ag Energy: American-Made Propane

Each farm or operation is unique, so it’s important for agricultural equipment to reflect that. Next-generation propane engines are available in a variety of sizes and with numerous features available, so they can be tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs or preferences. We believe the future of ag irrigation lies in custom equipment and cleaner energy sources — both of which propane is the perfect solution for.

To learn more about propane-powered agricultural equipment, visit www.propane.com/agriculture.

Michael Newland is director of agriculture business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at michael.newland@propane.com.