ENCON1: Introduction to Farm Energy Use


This module introduces concepts of on-farm energy conservation and efficiency. Farm energy conservation and efficiency that should be a starting point for reducing the demand for energy resources used in agricultural production. The module provides a context to situate on-farm energy use in the total picture of United States energy use. The module begins with information about the national energy supply, and introduces areas where farmers have opportunities to conserve energy in their farm operations. Energy conservation and efficiency practices are covered in detail in Module 2 of this course. The introductory section also explains why energy assessments are important and how to find an energy auditor.
Learning Objectives

  1. Understand where energy is used on farm and where savings can be achieved.
  2. Discuss the importance of energy audits.
  3. Identify energy assessment resources and tools available to farm clients.


Acronyms used in Module 1

Btu: British thermal unit (stands for one million British thermal units per hour)

CAFE: Corporate Average Fuel Economy

EISA: Energy Independence & Security Act

RFS: Renewable Fuel Standard

RPS: Renewable Portfolio Standard



Relative to total energy use in the United States, farming operations use a small share of total energy consumed. However, as energy use can still be a significant expense on farms, farm operators can save costs by incorporating energy conservation and efficiency measures in their operations. These conservation and efficiency measures will also do a great deal to reduce greenhouse gas contributions from farm operations and to improve the total environmental footprint of agriculture. Compared to other industrial sectors, agriculture consumes only a small percentage of total energy used in the United States. Nevertheless, energy conservation on farms can have an aggregate energy savings impact, and can cut farm expenses for the operator.

While reading this unit, consider the following guiding questions:

Guiding Questions

  1. What are reasons that farmers should consider energy conservation and efficiency?
  2. What are direct and indirect energy uses on farms?
  3. How do farm energy costs vary with commodity and region?
  4. Future units will address how to reduce on-farm energy costs by reducing these direct and indirect energy use.