Fuel Cost Increases... Pennies Vs. Dollars

If you wished you’d topped off your diesel fuel tank last fall, how do you think neighbors who work their ground feel?

The math is pretty simple.

For central Indiana farmers, diesel fuel cost 85 cents per gallon in April of 1999. A year later, it was $1.20.

For a farmer cropping 2,000 acres, here’s how much extra it will cost in diesel fuel expenses to farm this year compared to a year earlier:

  • It costs $1.02 more per acre in diesel fuel to no-till this year. Added fuel costs for 2,000 acres: $2,040.
  • It costs an extra $1.74 per acre in diesel fuel to minimum till this year. Added fuel costs for 2,000 acres: $3,480.
  • It costs $2.34 more per acre more in diesel fuel costs to conventionally till again this year. Added fuel costs for 2,000 acres: $4,680.

As a result, no-tilling will save $2,640 in diesel fuel purchases this year compared to using conventional tillage on 2,000 acres of crop ground.

Looking Back 20 Years.

In the July, 1980, issue of No-Till Farmer, we analyzed the fuel cost savings with no-till. Most of these Michigan State University figures for growing corn in 1980 still hold true today:

  • Conventional Tillage: Eleven trips across the field with 6.68 gallons of diesel fuel per acre to chop stalks, fertilize, moldboard plow, disc twice, harrow, spray herbicides, plant, rotary hoe, cultivate and harvest.
  • Minimum Tillage: Eight trips required 4.96 gallons of diesel fuel per acre to chop stalks, fertilize, chisel plow, harrow, spray herbicides, plant, cultivate and harvest.
  • No-Tillage: Five trips needed 2.92 gallons of diesel fuel per acre to chop stalks, fertilize…
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Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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