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Farmers Can Use Data For Tractor Selection

Farmers Can Use Data For Tractor Selection

Tractors are a big factor in annual on-farm fuel costs. New publication from ISU Extension discusses tractor test data to consider when leasing or purchasing a tractor.

Tractor operations represent a significant portion of annual on-farm fuel costs. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension explains and discusses tractor test data and fuel efficiency factors farmers should consider when leasing or purchasing a tractor.

"Fuel Efficiency Factors for Tractor Selection" (PM 2089O) is available to download from the Extension Online Store at

"During the decision-making process, tractor test data can be used to evaluate drawbar power and to estimate fuel consumption," says Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer. "For example, before purchasing a larger or heavier tractor, consider that at least seven percent of tractor power is commonly required just to overcome rolling resistance created by the tractor's weight."

New publication helps farmers use test results for tractor selection

This new ISU publication illustrates the most relevant data that are available to estimate tractor fuel efficiency before purchasing a new tractor. Test measurements include drawbar load tests, lift capacity, hydraulic power and power and fuel use during power-take-off (PTO) operations. Tractor test data for tractors manufactured in the United States are available from the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory (NTTL) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"If you're considering adding new equipment to your fleet before harvest begins, the tractor test data can help you compare newer and older models effectively," says Dana Petersen, ISU Extension program coordinator with ISU Farm Energy. "Seeking the best tractor to suit your farming operation can reduce costs by conserving fuel."

Other information bulletins available to help save energy on the farm

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, visit or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

The Farm Energy publications are part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Initiative.

The purpose is to increase farmers' awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy, says Petersen. The initiative also will help farmers and utility providers to explore alternatives to reduce farm energy demand and to improve overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.

"We also have a recently released publication on "Lighting" that gives an overview of farm lighting options and the upcoming phase-out schedule for incandescent bulbs beginning in January of 2012," she notes. "Also, Jay Harmon is currently presenting a series of swine ventilation workshops at meetings in Iowa. Mark Hanna will also be discussing energy topics at field days this July and August in connection with Iowa Learning Farms. Look for scheduling updates on our homepage and Twitter @ISU_Farm_Energy. As always, please don't hesitate to contact us with your farm energy questions!"

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