New Publication Illustrates Energy Used In Row Crops

Each year, approximately three-fourths of Iowa’s farmland is planted with corn or soybeans. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach shows the proportions of energy used to grow a typical corn or soybean crop in Iowa.

“Due to the fact that so many Iowa farmers raise corn and soybeans, a quick review of the energy inputs used for row crops is helpful for managing farm energy expenses,” said Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer.

This publication gives an overview of annual energy consumption for corn and soybean production. Energy use typically falls under one of three categories: field operations, fertilizers and pesticides or artificial drying. For example, diesel fuel consumption is required to plant crops, but total consumption can be reduced with less aggressive tillage.

Nitrogen fertilizer application rates can be adjusted to meet the needs of the corn crop while avoiding excessive fertilizer application. Though chemical inputs such as fertilizer and pesticide are often considered an indirect energy expense for the farming operation, the manufacturing processes used to produce them require large amounts of energy.

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, visit ISU’s Farm Energy Initiative or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

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