Rural America has a long history with propane stretching back 100 years. Presently, over 50% of rural Americans use LP gas in their homes, and 40% also use it in their farming operations. With over 1 million gallons of propane/year used in American farm country, it’s clear that farms find many uses for it beyond home heating and appliances.
Why Farms Use Propane
Because propane can be delivered to all parts of the country, it is readily available in almost any rural location. However, there are many other reasons that farmers choose propane for their agricultural needs:
- Propane stores exceptionally well, without requiring fuel stabilization from one season to the next.
- Propane is known for being a clean fuel. It produces up to 24% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, and 11 percent fewer emissions than diesel engine. It also keeps engines clean, which in turn can extend engine life and reduce maintenance.
- With propane, no EPA spill prevention plans are required, because propane is non-toxic.
- Compared to other fuels, theft is much less of an issue due to the way propane is stored.
- Propane powers a substantial segment of the US economy. 98% of propane used in the U.S. is produced domestically as well.
Ways That Farm Use Propane
Wherever fuel is needed on the farm, there are ways it can be supplied by propane.
Irrigation Engines: Propane powered irrigation engines that are EPA- and CARB-certified are available in all 50 states. This equipment is specifically engineered for propane by leading engine manufacturers.
Grain Dryers: Over 80% of grain dryers use propane as the main energy source. Because it is a clean fuel, propane will never contaminate grain. In addition, propane allows for on-farm drying, which enables more flexible grain harvesting schedules and reduces yield loss.
Building Heat: Propane provides heating solutions for livestock, poultry, and greenhouses with specially designed furnaces, boilers, and radiant heat. Propane heaters provide the consistent heat and clean air required by livestock and horticulture.
Power Generators: Propane generators run power independent of the grid, and are often used either for primary or back-up power generation. LP gas generators provide a reliable source of back-up power that does not degrade, so it’s ready to use whenever it’s needed.
Other Uses: Agricultural propane is also used for forklifts, home appliances, vehicles, and more. Propane is even used for thermal agriculture, to protect crops from damaging cold.
Advantages of Converting to Propane
For farmers considering converting more applications to propane, it helps that new propane engines generally cost 20-40% less than diesel engines with comparable power. Beyond that, the Propane Farm Incentive Program can help with some of the initial cost of purchasing new agricultural equipment. Incentives are available for certain models of irrigation engines, grain dryers, propane generators, swine and greenhouse heaters, and even flame weed control units that are powered by propane. Propane upgrades may also qualify for efficiency programs sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Check whether your extension service or other local agricultural programs may have other incentive programs in place to make farm propane even more cost effective.
At Smith Gas, we have a long history of working with the agricultural community. We can help you assess when it is time for a propane storage upgrade to maximize delivery efficiency. As your needs change, delivery efficiency savings can make the price of propane even more competitive for your operation. When you’re thinking of your changing agricultural propane needs, contact Smith Gas Liquids for experienced and dependable service.