7 Ways Natural Gas Keeps America’s Farmland Growing
The agriculture industry uses an incredible amount of energy to keep America fed – as every stage of the food production process requires fuel, from cultivation to harvesting and on to final delivery. According to the US Energy Information Association, 5% of all industrial energy consumption can be traced directly to our farms and related businesses.
As the price of imported oil rises, more food production enterprises are turning to natural gas for energy. Domestically produced, cleaner-burning, and cheaper, natural gas is providing stability, cost savings, and positive environmental impact in these seven aspects of the agriculture industry.
Natural Gas Powered Farm Equipment
Just as garbage trucks, buses, and other fleet vehicles are slowly shifting to CNG or LNG fuel, farm equipment of all types can be converted to run on natural gas. From fertilizing to planting, crop maintenance, and harvesting, natural gas-powered farm equipment saves money on fuel and produces fewer greenhouse emissions compared to gasoline or diesel.
Production of Fertilizer
Natural gas powers many of the plants used to manufacture the fertilizers farms need to build healthy soil and maximize crop output.
Farmhouse Heating, Hot Water, and Cooking
Due to their rural location, many farms cannot rely on electricity alone for power, especially during the winter or other inclement weather conditions. Arriving via underground pipelines, natural gas offers an ideal solution that’s both more economical and more consistent for country farms.
Natural Gas for Irrigation
Irrigation pumps can be fueled by a wide variety of energy sources. Given the expansive acreage of American farms, the costs associated with irrigating these large expanses of land are significant. By switching to natural gas irrigation, farms can lower their overall energy spending while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Greenhouse Heating and the Drying of Grain
The agriculture industry has needs for large-scale building heating in several applications, including the long-term storage of grain and maintaining greenhouse temperatures for indoor-grown fruits and vegetables.
Final Transport to Market
Moving agricultural products from the farms to distribution facilities and supermarkets is one of the most energy-heavy aspects of the food production process. By utilizing heavy vehicles equipped with natural gas-burning combustion engines, producers and transportation companies can rely on a more stable fuel price compared to the volatility of oil.
Renewable Energy and Sustainability
One of the most exciting advancements in the relationship between agriculture and natural gas is the rising of RNG capture at facilities that produce large quantities of brown gas. By collecting and purifying the gas produced by farm waste, the industry can simultaneously reduce the amount of methane released into the air while generating pipeline quality natural gas to be consumed or sold and injected into the public distribution network.
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