How to Boost Your Revenue and Slash Your Costs at the Same Time
Modern agriculture continues to provide enough food to feed the whole world, even though the population continues to grow. That’s because farm equipment and innovation continues to find new ways to increase yields and reduce losses.
For these advances to make practical sense for farmers, they also need to be cost-efficient. That can be achieved in several different ways:
- Increase energy efficiency and thus reduce expenses
- Increase yields and thus increase revenue
- Prolong equipment life expectancy and thus reduce expenses
- Reduce labor costs through increases in farm automation
Any farm equipment that makes significant headway in one or more of these areas deserves strong consideration by farmers for whom that equipment was designed.
Here are some examples of farm equipment advances that are revolutionizing the agriculture industry, saving money, increasing yields, and cutting energy and labor costs.
1. Airhead Potato Harvester
Built by Advanced Farm Equipment, with some of its most efficiency-boosting components like the hydraulics and wiring coming from Eaton, the Airhead harvester solves the problem of mass-harvesting potatoes without bruising, while also using less fuel than other equipment built for the same purpose. It therefore cuts energy costs as well as labor costs – resulting in dramatic savings especially for large farms.
The Airhead offers improved controllability, adaptability to changing conditions, and highly efficient hydraulics. Eaton’s CANBus wiring system has eliminated about 3500 feet of wiring – per machine. This simplicity allows, among other things, the machine to only use as much power as needed, which produces much less heat. This is the primary cause of its fuel efficiency gains.
It’s called the ‘Airhead’ because it shoots bursts of air into the compartment as potatoes, rocks, dirt, and other debris crawl up the conveyor. Because rocks are heavier than potatoes, the bursts of air ‘levitate’ the potatoes for a moment, which allows for them to separate from everything else, while protecting them from bruising.
2. Automatic InRow Weeder
Invasive weeds reduce crop yields by stealing their water and other nutrients. Historically, most farmers have had to resort to pesticides of various sorts to preserve enough yield to be profitable.
The InRow Weeder uses sensors and a big spike to tear up the ground surrounding each plant, killing any weeds that might be thinking about growing there.
This device thus improves farm efficiency by increasing yield and reducing losses. You’ll have greater quantities of healthy, marketable crops.
The video of the InRow Weeder in action is pretty amazing. Watch the video here.
Bonus: Carrot Harvester
Also, if you scroll down the same page with the InRow Weeder video, you can see an equally amazing video of a carrot harvester that accomplishes the same goal as the potato one.
This advanced farm tool harvests huge volumes of carrots at lightning speed. It saves farmers massive amounts of labor costs. For root crops like carrots and potatoes, the biggest challenge has always been harvesting them fast enough, and doing it by hand is really slow and inefficient. Now, there’s a better way.
3. Steiger Tractors
Developed by Case IH using SCR emissions technology, these tractors set records at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory for fuel efficiency, and also for horsepower and maximum pull. So it’s more powerful, but uses less fuel.
Farmers can expect to save about $1000 per year from lower fuel costs and reduced maintenance expenses. These tractors can go 600 operating hours without an oil change. They also have no particulate filter and require no regeneration period.
Case IH offers an array of high-efficiency farm equipment for a variety of applications. Some improve fuel and energy efficiency like the Steiger Tractors. Others improve crop yields by revising the seedbed preparation process, more precise planting, and many other advances.
4. Variable Speed Drive Motors
This technology has been around, but it is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency improvements you can make if your farm uses motorized pumps. Dairy farms, for instance, can use vacuum pumps with sensors and variable speed drives to adjust the motor speed based on the air flow demand.
A variable speed drive, also known as a variable frequency drive or an adjustable speed drive, can save you up to 60% on electricity costs compared to regular pumps. The Department of Energy says that any variable speed motor that operates more than 4000 hours per year (about 77 hours per week) should be able to break even within two years, if that’s your goal.
5. Scroll Compressors for Refrigeration
Because dairy farms use more energy than most others, here’s another efficiency improvement for them. Again, this isn’t brand new technology, but a scroll compressor will save 15-20% off the energy costs associated with a more traditional reciprocating compressor.
This technology works for any farmer who depends on refrigeration to preserve their product, including fruit and vegetable farmers.
6. Agricultural Solar Power – the Multiplier Effect
Saving on electricity through improved energy efficiency is a good start. Out of your overall electric bill, let’s say you can cut your costs by 30% using more efficient farm equipment such as scroll compressors, variable speed drives, and other tools. That would be quite a savings, year after year.
But what if you could knock out the remaining 70% too?
Agricultural solar power offers you that very possibility. Most farms have a distinct advantage when it comes to solar power. They usually have ample open space, on the ground and on the roofs of their larger buildings.
This means they usually have the freedom to install a solar power array in many places, meaning they can find the most ideal location, free from obstructions, facing the optimal direction.
For farmers in particular – especially if you’re able to take advantage of a USDA REAP Grant and the federal tax incentives for solar – you have a very realistic shot at recovering your investment in under five years.
Farmers can often get the very best deal on solar in terms of ROI and internal rate of return.
Your solar array continues producing power all year long, even when it’s cloudy, and will cut down the biggest chunk of your electricity bill.
So, if you combine solar with some of these other efficiency improvements, you will be able to slash expenses, reduce labor costs, and increase energy efficiency – all with the same land you have now.