Alternative Fuels Used for Farming

Finding alternative fuel sources is becoming an important issue for many farmers.

Seeking alternative fuel for farming is becoming increasingly important.

Farms use significant quantities of fuel and resources. Tractors, generators and other machinery are all necessary for running an efficient farming operation. Although this is a necessity, the continued spiraling cost of traditional energies and fuels combined with the negative impact on the environment means that alternative fuel solutions are important.

Fuels Used in Farming

A farm will typically use diesel for running tractors and other farm vehicles, plus electricity to power lights and machinery. These fuels generally come from non-renewable resources and have a high cost on the environment, however fuel for farming is an absolute necessity.

Many people interested in green living seek alternative fuel sources and this includes a growing number of farmers. Cutting down the use of non-renewable resources and fuels that have a negative effect on the environment are becoming an important part of farming.

Types of Alternative Fuel for Farming

While it is nice for non-farmers to dream of the days of farmers working the fields without the use of machines, ploughing with horses and ponies, the reality is that this is just not practical. The vision of horse drawn farming equipment is one that firmly belongs in the past. Today we need to look for alternatives which balance positive effects on the environment with the ability for farmers to run an effective business. If a farmer is unable to produce food in an efficient manner, the cost of food increases, which has a knock on effect for the consumer. Therefore, it is important that if alternative fuels for farming are considered, they must be an effective alternative.


The goal of many farmers is to become carbon neutral. Many alternative fuels will contribute to the reduction of a farmer´s carbon footprint. Biofuels are becoming increasingly popular and are a realistic alternative, being fuels that are made from biomass such as ethanol. Biomass is the term used to describe the plants that are used to make this fuel. Sugar canes and corn are used for some fuels, although this varies country to country. In Europe, sugar beet is commonly used and palm oil is common in South Asia.

One of the attractive features of biofuels is their ability to provide an effective fuel while also contributing to the environment. Although biofuels still emit carbon when used, this is balanced by the fact that the biomass used to make the fuel recycles the carbon through photosynthesis, thus neutralizing the negative effect on the environment.

Another benefit of the bio fuels is that they are quick to grow and are a good form of land management. The fact that the plants are prolific to grow means that little intervention is required.

Alternative biofuels are actually not a new thing. The very first vehicles were developed to run on biofuels. It was not until crude oil became widely and cheaply available that the interest in biofuels started to wane. The German inventor of the combustion engine, Nikolaus August Otto, developed his engine to run on ethanol. Peanut oil was the choice of the German inventor Rudolf Diesel for his diesel engine and Henry Ford originally designed the Ford Model T at the start of the last century to run completely on ethanol.

Today, the attractions of biofuels are being rediscovered and offer a good solution to the issues surrounding traditional fuels.

Solar and Wind Power

In addition to biofuels, solar and wind generated power is an alternative for farmers. The fact that many farms are spread over vast expanses of land means that farms can often support the large pieces of equipment needed to generate this power. Wind turbines, for instance, might not be practical in a normal domestic environment, however they take up a proportionately small piece of farming land.

Further Reading

Alternative Fuels Used for Farming