Why Buy a Standby Generator for Your Farm?
Backup Power is a key ingredient to responsible farming

 

Every farmer knows how critical a reliable, constant power supply is on their farm or ranch. No farm is exempt from the potential of a power outage capable of putting a halt to critical operations, putting livestock, crops and workers in harm’s way.

Dairy farmers, for one, need to ensure their milking machines are always up and running, above all else. Poultry farmers, on the other hand, need to rely on steady temperatures to ensure the growth and health of their chickens. Greenhouse operations depend on constant light to keep plants alive and growing. The list goes on.

So, how does a farmer ensure they’re being responsible as can be, keeping their farming operations safe from inevitable power outages? Well, this article was designed to answer just that! We’re about to cover all you need to know about agricultural standby generators, and why they’re so critical for your farm. Below are the topics we’ll be covering. Simply click ahead to a specific section if you please!:

  1. Why Should Dairy Farmers Purchase Backup Power?
  2. Why Should Poultry Farmers Purchase Backup Power?
  3. Ensuring the Wellbeing of Your Greenhouse Operations
  4. Choosing a Generator for Your Specific Farming Operations
  5. Conclusion

 

Why Should Dairy Farmers Purchase Backup Power?

Dairy farmers know that their cows should typically be milked twice daily – and delays in milking that exceed 24 hours put cows at risk for producing milk with higher cell counts, or, clinical mastitis (agriland.ie).

With that said, it’s hard to imagine NOT purchasing a standby generator to ensure, for one, that cows can always be milked as often as they should, including periods where power may be unavailable because of severe weather conditions, grid overload or infrastructure problems. It should absolutely be a requirement for the sake of health and safety, and of course, to protect farmers from what could truly end up costing them.

For the potentially tragic losses that can be experienced due to unavoidable power failure on a dairy farm, it’s no question that purchasing a standby generator (that can be purchased at a reasonable cost!) is necessary. Keeping your cows and operations safe in the event of a power failure is obviously worth the small extra price to pay.

 


Why Should Poultry Farmers Buy Backup Power?

As a farmer in the poultry house industry, you certainly understand the importance of dependable power in order to ensure the well-being and growth of your livestock.

Proper ventilation must always be provided to eliminate excess moisture and heat, as well as keep dust and odor under control while helping to promote health and prevent airborne disease. Ventilation systems designed for the winter also work by utilizing heat generated by the chickens. Tasks like feeding, cleaning and so on need to be completed on schedule, and even the smallest of a power failure can result in a major loss of birds (particularly those close to market age).

A power outage simply cannot occur in a totally enclosed environment containing a high volume of birds that require specific temperature regulation and ventilation. And with blackouts and brownouts occurring more today than ever before (especially in hot climates), employing a backup power solution on your poultry farm is paramount.


Ensuring the Wellbeing of Your Greenhouse Operations

Greenhouse growing is another operation with a very high dependence on continuous power – and for operations with high production demands, power failure risks become even more critical to avoid. Some greenhouse operations are situated in areas away from the grid, making power unavailable or unreliable for farmers in these remote locations. But no grow room, even those close to the grid, is immune to a disparaging power failure.

However, according to greenhousegrower.com, “about one-fifth of growers have no backup power generation system in place, much less one adequately-sized and properly maintained”.

Plants depend on precise cooling and air humidification due to the heat generated by plant production, as well as the severe climates where the greenhouses are typically located – so a fault in power supply is capable of significant damage to plants. And it isn’t only the grow lamps that must stay operating – we can’t forget about the other (sensitive) equipment that can become damaged during an outage.

Peter Stuyt, president of Carpinteria, a Total Energy Group based in California is also mentioned in the article explaining how “a grower with 14 acres told me once that a single outage cost him about $25,000 in crop damage, so he looked at his $80,000 investment as having not a three-year but a three-start ROI.” So, there’s some factual insight that should be enough to give any grower without backup power a rude awakening.


Choosing a Generator for Your Specific Farming Needs

When it comes to selecting the right standby generator for your farming operations, it’s best to first weigh the pros and cons of each, and of course, configure the size of generator needed before making your purchase.

 

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Let’s compare diesel generators and natural gas generators below based on start- up speed, fuel availability and reliability, price, reliability, and environmental impact:

Start-up speed:

Diesel engines take the cake here, starting up the quickest. With a simpler design and higher power density in fuel, generators powered by diesel not only start up quickly, but are capable of taking load more quickly, as well. On the other hand, natural gas isn’t too far behind, but it will take a longer to start and also to take load. But with proper maintenance, natural gas generators can meet the 10-second load acceptance rule.

Fuel availability and reliability:

Diesel fuel is delivered via truck, so you’ll need to ensure that diesel can be delivered to your diesel generator’ location during all four seasons (keep in mind those extra snowy days – where you’ll need to have a path cleared for delivery). Keep in mind that on-site storage doesn’t really last for a lot longer than three days – at which point you’ll need to rely on delivery again. Natural gas requires a gas line to where you situate your generator, but there’s also propane if you don’t have natural gas – which is similar to diesel fuel in that

it’s contained in a tank and requires delivery. Natural gas is also considered to be very reliable and readily available.

Price:

Costs of both diesel and gas generators vary depending on the size of the generator required. Then, consider that diesel fuel tanks are an additional cost that natural gas generators are without. But, a natural gas generator will require a line connecting directly to it in which the cost will vary based on its distance – so keeping the distances short will help to mitigate the cost.

There is also the price of fuel to consider, however, fuel for standby generator use has much less of a financial significance compared to units that will be running all the time. But with that said, natural gas is typically the less expensive in comparison, by quite a bit.

Environmental impact

Diesel engines have long been thought of as “dirty”, compared to natural gas engines that are known to be exceptionally clean – emitting as much as 50% less greenhouse gases than diesel engines. Fortunately though, there have been modern improvements made that allow diesel engines to burn much more cleanly and efficiently (but of course, this technology does come at quite a high cost).

CHP (Combined Heat and Power) systems

Purchasing a CHP system for your backup power needs is another excellent option, especially for greenhouse operations, as they include configurations to boost CO2 levels for accelerated plant growth.

 

Conclusion

There’s no question about it: a continuous and reliable supply of power is absolutely critical for every farmer’s agricultural operations. And fortunately, an emergency or backup power generator can provide farmers with a peace of mind that their farm, livestock, crops and hard workers will remain protected from the ever-increasing instances of blackouts and power failures.

Fortunately, there are cost-effective options when it comes to ensuring your farm can count on continuous power through all seasons. Speak to a T&T Power Group representative today to inquire about an agricultural backup generator for protection you can depend on.