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For families who run farms, there is plenty of work involved with the tasks of tilling soil, planting seeds, harvesting crops, and herding livestock. When it comes to the health of upcoming crops, water must be distributed in even quantities to prevent the spoilage and dehydration of sprouting fruits and vegetables. The process is known as irrigation, which relies on sources of energy such as electricity and diesel fuel.

Today, farmers are increasingly switching to propane for irrigation fuel.

Why Are Farms Switching to Propane-Powered Irrigation?

In recent years, propane-powered farm equipment has gained in popularity over competing options. The trend toward propane has been especially pronounced in irrigation, one of the most energy-consumptive operations in agriculture. Between 2008 and 2013, 25 percent more farms adopted propane-powered irrigation systems. The sharp increase accounted for roughly 1.1 million acres of farmland. Here are some of the main reasons farmers are switching to propane:

1. Efficiency

The rapid spread of propane as the fuel of choice in agriculture has been prompted by its efficiency, eco-friendliness and relatively low cost. Propane burns with only minimal emission, which makes the fuel preferable to coal and diesel in farming environments. Propane irrigation systems also cost less money to fuel and operate, which amounts to savings in the agriculture industry.

2. Reasonable Prices

In comparison to other fuel types, propane is reasonably priced thanks to its abundance in the U.S. Since the deregulation of the fuel sector, domestic competition has flourished among fuel suppliers. Today, the agriculture industry is courted by fuel suppliers who are more attuned to the unique needs of farmers. The competitive fuel market has also spurred an increase in domestic sourcing, which has made propane — a co-product of natural gas — one of the most widely available fuel types.

3. Domestic Abundance

The abundance and reasonable cost of propane stand in marked contrast to the shifting prices of the international fuel market. The majority of competing crude oil products are sourced from foreign nations, many of them plagued by political turmoil. Consequently, non-gas fuel prices are typically affected by external factors, such as import prices and volatile foreign relations.

Advantages of Propane Irrigation

Propane has many advantages. Namely, propane is cost-effective, high-performing, reliable, clean-burning and low-maintenance. Let’s look at these benefits in more detail:

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Propane vs. Diesel

Compared to diesel, propane farm fuel is one of the cleanest energy options in the agriculture industry. Propane engines are also more cost-effective than diesel engines, which require maintenance more frequently and need to be replaced more often.

With propane irrigation systems, the startup price is lower, and the costs associated with fuel, operation and maintenance are lower over the life of the equipment. As a farmer, you could expect to save up to 50 percent on the initial cost of a propane engine and also spend 50% less on operating and maintenance costs during the decade you use the engine.

A diesel engine, by contrast, would require a bigger upfront investment and consume more money throughout a year’s operation. Diesel also emits more greenhouse gases than other fuel types and is one of the least sound irrigation options from an environmental standpoint.

Propane vs. Electricity

When stacked against electricity, propane-powered irrigation systems are the far more sensible, reliable and cost-effective option.

With electricity, you have to rely on the power grid of your local area, which could go down from time-to-time and leave your equipment vulnerable to power surges. Even if you have your own power backup generator, you are still using a more expensive energy option that runs on fossil fuel and relies on carbon burning, thus leaving a carbon footprint that is unhealthy to crops and livestock. Moreover, electricity is a costly energy option with often unpredictable pricing structures.

Propane, by contrast, does not rely on the power grid and will run your irrigation nonstop. Propane fuel is clean-burning and thus friendlier to the environment than the carbon-burning process required for electrical power. Overall, farms that irrigate with propane instead of electricity have lower operating costs and emit fewer greenhouse gases.

Making the Switch to Propane-Powered Farm Equipment

For 90 years, Shipley Energy has been a leading provider of fuel to farms across various portions of Pennsylvania and Maryland. As a provider of propane fuel, we partner with farmers to assist in their switch to propane-powered equipment.

1. Wholesale Fuels

If a farm operates as a business and cultivates fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy, wool or other products for the consumer public, that farm should do everything to keep its operating costs as low as possible. With low overhead, the farming family earns more money, and the savings are passed on down the agriculture industry, ultimately reaching customers in the form of lower prices.

For today’s farmers, one of the most effective ways to keep overhead costs low is to purchase wholesale fuel for irrigation and other farming operations. With wholesale fuel, you significantly reduce one of the largest costs associated with farming. When you combine those savings with the generally low price of propane, you have a double-savings at hand.

Shipley Energy provides wholesale fuels to businesses in select portions of Pennsylvania and Maryland, including farms.

2. Bulk Fuel Delivery

One of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to purchase fuel is to do so in bulk quantities. This way, you get a larger supply of fuel up front at a lower price per gallon.

Irrigation systems consume large quantities of fuel during warm and dry seasons. If you’re looking to keep the costs associated with irrigation down to reasonable levels, your best option is to purchase bulk deliveries of wholesale propane fuel.

Shipley Energy offers bulk fuel delivery of propane at wholesale prices. We bring bulk deliveries of propane out to our farming customers in the areas we serve in the northeast and mid-Atlantic.

3. Fuel Storage Tanks

When you operate a farm, it is best to have a vast fuel supply on hand that can last for weeks at a time. With a fuel storage tank, you can keep large quantities of propane fuel on site to power your irrigation system, as well as other processes that run on fuel. This way, you can cut down on orders to your fuel supplier and rely less on electricity as your means of power.

Whether you run a large or modest-sized farm, a storage tank could make your farming operations a whole lot easier. With an on-site fuel tank, you have a constant supply of fuel. The vehicles on your site could refuel without having to drive to off-site service stations. Moreover, your irrigation system will have a plentiful fuel supply that will keep the sprinklers running regardless of the status of the power grid.

Shipley Energy sells and installs fuel tanks for farms and other entities in the agriculture industry. Whether you need to replace an old tank or wish to purchase a tank for the first time, we can help you select the right tank size and shape for the layout of your farming operation.

Propane Farm Incentive Program

If you are looking to make a switch to propane-powered farm equipment, you could apply for the Propane Farm Incentive Program and receive up to $5,000 to cover the cost of new equipment purchases. The program is run by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) for the purpose of data collection on real-world propane-equipment use.

The PERC incentive program may apply to propane-powered engines, generators, water-heating systems, greenhouse heaters and weed control. Signing up for the program is relatively easy and consists of a few simple steps.

Contact Shipley Energy for Agricultural Propane Services

For farms and businesses in select areas of Pennsylvania and Maryland, Shipley Energy is the leading source for a range of bulk-quantity commercial fuels. We deliver propane, diesel and gas to vehicles, storage tanks and generators. When you need a propane refill in your irrigation generator, a call to Shipley Energy could have a fuel truck at your location on the same day. If one of your farming vehicles runs out of fuel, our service team could be right out to refuel the vehicle.

Given today’s fluctuating fuel prices, it is crucial to have steady rates where you can anticipate your month-to-month expenses. Shipley Energy offers a range of payment plans, including locked-in policies and maximum flat rates. The Shipley Energy crew is also on call 24/7 whenever a fuel emergency arises.

Shipley Energy offers propane fuel storage tanks, bulk fuel delivery options and other services designed to help farmers reduce overhead and increase their bottom line when switching to propane-powered equipment. Contact Shipley Energy to learn more about our wholesale bulk delivery services and fuel storage tank solutions.