Five Farm Fuel Efficiency Tips

April 2018 saw a yet another increase in fuel prices – this time attributable to dramatic increases in both the General Fuel Levy and the Road Accident Fund Levy. With fuel contributing heavily to an agricultural enterprise’s costs, what steps can be taken to increase farm fuel efficiency to better manage fuel costs? Learn more…

Five Farm Fuel Efficiency Tips

Why the Increase in Fuel Price?

In his Budget Speech 2018, presented in February, then Minister of Finance Mulusi Gigaba announced increases in the General Fuel Levy and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) Levy. His Budget included a 22 cents per litre increase in the Fuel Levy, and a 30 cents per litre increase in the RAF Levy, amounting to a total increase in the fuel price of 52 cents per litre, which came into effect on 4 April 2018. The General Fuel Levy is a tax charged for every litre of fuel sold and is reviewed annually. In contrast to the General Fuel Levy which is a general tax, i.e. not for road-related expenses, the RAF Levy is a tax raised on every litre of fuel to compensate victims of road accidents. The levies apply to both petrol and diesel and, overall, consumers will be paying 72 cents more for 95 octane petrol, 69 cents for 93 octane petrol and 65.2 cents for all grades of diesel.

How to Survive the Fuel Price Increase

Every fuel increase shaves rands off your bottom line! But with the fuel price out of our control, is there anything that can be done to mitigate the increased fuel costs? Happily, there are steps that can be taken on and around the farm that will help to offset the rising costs of fuel, primarily by maximising fuel efficiency. Take a look…

Store Fuel Correctly

Invest in proper fuel storage equipment. Storing diesel in approved, well-maintained, secure aboveground storage tanks will prevent fuel loss via evaporation, leaks, theft, etc. In addition, correct storage will prevent contamination of fuel from the likes of water, sediment, rust, and so on, all of which can impact on fuel quality. Fuel contaminated in this way can similarly contaminate the fuel systems of agricultural equipment, which can lead to expensive repairs or replacements. Check your aboveground fuel tanks at least annually for sediment.

Stick to a Maintenance Schedule

One of the easiest ways to promote fuel efficiency – routine maintenance of farm vehicles and equipment. Research by the Iowa State University Farm Energy and Conservation Efficiency educational initiative shows that ‘making time for maintenance now will enhance…immediate fuel savings’.

Match the Tractor to the Job

Use the correct equipment for the job at hand – smaller tractors for lighter loads and larger tractors for heavier loads will maximise fuel efficiency. Did you know that larger machines with high work rates may actually have a lower total fuel cost per hectare? Overworking smaller engines may prove to be counter-productive – investing in heavyweight or specialised machinery may well be worth the investment when you consider the fuel savings to be gained for jobs that require more horsepower.

Don’t Labour Engines!

Practice the ‘gear up and throttle back’ principle – to maintain a desired speed, rather slow down engine speed (i.e. rpm) and shift up to a higher gear, which helps lessen the load on engines and promotes fuel efficiency. Also make sure that machinery is being operated at the correct settings for the task.

Know Your Numbers…

Big Data’ is set to impact on decision-making in every aspect of food supply, from farm to fork. But you don’t have to be a data scientist to reap the benefits of smart farming – getting a grasp on simple data like how much fuel it takes to establish, grow and harvest a tonne of maize on your farm, for example, can help you identify areas for cost-saving. Useful metrics include fuel cost per hectare per hour and litres used per hectare.

Get Your Fuel Stock Right

Buying bulk diesel does result in savings, but make sure that you can use the fuel stock you buy within a reasonable time frame – stored incorrectly, fuel can deteriorate, which is money down the drain! Also make sure that you keep accurate records of fuel stock, to monitor for stock loss due to evaporation, leaks or theft.

Bulk Diesel Suppliers for Agriculture

SA Oil provides bulk diesel supplies to agriculture across Southern Africa. Products include diesel 50ppm and diesel 500ppm. We are also able to provide diesel 10ppm to countries in southern Africa. See here for more info or contact us