Technology can reduce fuel costs

Technology can reduce fuel costs

• Telematics provides the ability to control things remotely.

There’s a new generation of technology that can help you conserve fuel on the farm, and it has nothing to do with the engine in your tractors or combines.

With diesel prices about 35 percent higher than a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, you’ve likely already reacquainted yourself with the time-honored methods of saving fuel, such as performing scheduled maintenance, inflating tires to the proper pressure and minimizing idling times.

But how much do you know about some of the new ways of improving your fuel efficiency with tools you already own, like your cell phone?

John Fulton, assistant professor of biosystems engineering at Auburn University in Alabama, is a big fan of telematics, or the ability to control equipment and access information remotely using an Internet-connected device, including your smartphone.

“Telematics provides the ability to control things remotely,” Fulton explains.

“In our case, here in Alabama, a great example is irrigation. I can turn pivots on, check that they’re running or turn them off from my desk back in the farm office or even through my smartphone. That’s fuel savings because it reduces the number of trips I have to make in the truck.”

Smartphones can make it easier and more efficient for farmers to access time-sensitive information like weather and markets; view data transmitted by your equipment; communicate with employees; and, ultimately, make decisions — from anywhere.

“It goes back to efficiency,” says Fulton. “I don’t have to run to the field. You have that remote capability to retrieve the data from wherever you have a web browser to access it.”

Fulton says his research shows a greater percentage of farmers adopting smartphones. And he says some soybean farmers have begun using telematics.

“Once farmers figure out how it can make money for them, they can use it in a variety of ways depending on what is best for their operation,” Fulton says. “The tangible benefits, where a farmer can see savings in his pocket, are going to depend on the operation.”

For more ideas on how to conserve fuel on the farm, check out this article, co-authored by Fulton.

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