With energy costs rising, the Propane Education & Research Council has joined with Agweb.com to launch a new Web page featuring PERC’s Agriculture Cost Estimator. It can help farmers estimate and compare propane costs with other energy sources for use in their operations. 

“Specifically, the cost estimator shows the differences in two common applications for propane: irrigation and grain drying” says Mark Leitman,  PERC’s director of agriculture programs.

Available at www.agweb.com/propane, the online Agriculture Cost Estimator is simple to use. Crop growers making irrigation comparisons plug in the pumping rate and total dynamic-head figures for their irrigation systems, enter the amount they spend on diesel or gasoline, enter the current propane rate for their area, then click “calculate.” The program provides the pumping cost per hour to power their irrigation systems on these fuels.

Producers comparing costs for grain drying can enter the moisture percentage they want to remove, the number of bushels to be dried and the price they are paying for electricity and propane in their area.

According to a PERC national study in 2004, more than three out of four growers use propane to dry grain.

Researchers at Southern Illinois University found that overall 1.59 gallons of propane equals the same energy output as 1 gallon of diesel fuel in test engines. In collecting this data, they compared the performance of a propane engine to a diesel engine. Both were similar in size and tested at a variety of loads and RPMs.

The point is to understand that there are options when diesel costs rise.

Leitman emphasized that propane also gives growers flexibility and reliability. For example: “During peak hours, electricity rates can dramatically increase or the power could suddenly shut off, causing a blackout. Farmers do not have these concerns with dedicated propane equipment. They own the fuel and can rely on it to perform when needed.” Since some electricity is often necessary for many on-farm propane applications, Leitman urges farmers to consider propane-fueled back-up generators to keep equipment operating in the event of a blackout.

Farmers without access to the Internet can order the ag cost estimator in a printed format by contacting PERC at (866) 840-1075 and requesting item #PRC001020. For more information on PERC and its programs to promote the safe and efficient use of propane in agriculture, call (202) 452-8975 or visit www.usepropane.com and click on the “Trades” link.

Propane Education & Research Council