What do you think of when you hear the word propane? Do you think of home heat, gas grills, grain dryers or maybe even the animated TV show King of the Hill featuring Hank Hill as the main character? You probably didn’t think of irrigation motor fuel.
In the central plains states, propane has been used to power irrigation wells for many years. Producers experienced with propane-powered irrigation engines often express their satisfaction with the longevity and durability of them. Newer propane engine technology has eliminated the problems associated with the older propane vapor technology used years ago.
Growers often believe there are only three power options for irrigation motors: electric, diesel and gasoline. Not only is there another option; the alternative option typically rewards operators with thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the unit.
Recently, a 2-year study was conducted comparing the advantages of propane-powered irrigation motors vs. diesel powered ones. Eight units were considered. The results demonstrated that not only was the up-front cost of the propane units about half of the diesel units, but the growers were also saving $1.50-$6.00 per hour in fuel costs, depending on the size of the unit.
Propane is a cleaner burning fuel too. New diesel engines require diesel exhaust fluid to meet environmental emission standards. Propane motors do not. Also, noise pollution is significantly reduced when comparing the propane motor to the diesel.
Storage is yet another advantage. In wet growing seasons, little diesel fuel may be used and sit in storage tanks for extended periods. Diesel fuel can oxidize, take on moisture from condensation and become infested with microbes requiring rescue treatments or blending. Propane, however, will burn just as well the following season as it did the day it was put in the tank. It can be stored for years.
If these benefits are not enough, there’s more. The Propane Education Research Council (PERC) Farm Incentive Program has an incentive on propane irrigation motors worth up to $5,000. In return for the incentive, PERC requests some minor record keeping for additional data and operational results.
So the next time you are considering a new irrigation motor, consider propane. Upfront costs, maintenance and the lower cost of fuel make propane-powered irrigation motors a great alternative. When it comes down to the total cost of ownership, propane is a proven winner
Find and Contact your FS Propane Salesmen today!
Zach Baugher serves the FS system as Sunrise FS' Certified Propane Specialist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.