More and more farmers across the nation are beginning to experience the benefits of propane-powered irrigation engines. From 2008 to 2013, 25% more farms added propane-powered irrigation engines on more than 1.1 million acres of farmland.

Today’s propane-powered engines are not converted gasoline engines but designed from the ground up by leading engine manufacturers. Since they are engineered to run specifically on propane, they are EPA-certified to provide clean power when and where you need it.

Since propane is portable and operates on an independent system, you don’t have to worry about electrical grid-related power interruptions. Propane also stores exceptionally well. Unlike gasoline or diesel fuel, there’s no need to drain tanks or stabilize the fuel during idle times. There are fewer worries of contamination from water or microbes, too. Plus, with the nature of the propane delivery and storage infrastructure, fuel theft isn’t much of a concern.

Propane is a clean fuel that burns clean and keeps your engine clean. Longer engine life with fewer maintenance issues are the result of fewer deposits forming on engine components. Also, since propane is a nontoxic gas, EPA spill prevention plans are not needed. For the ultimate convenience, storage tanks can be equipped with monitors to gauge the level of fuel in the tank from internet-connected devices.

In addition to the other benefits, propane can be very economical. Typically costing 20% to 40% less than diesel engines with comparable power, switching to propane-powered irrigation engines can be a smart business decision. The Propane Farm Incentive Program and other incentives reduce costs even more. It’s also true that propane prices for summer irrigation are typically lower than in winter’s high-demand home heating season.

A recent poll of farmers and their new propane-powered engines discovered that the new propane-powered engines gave 23% higher performance than previously owned propane-powered engines. Those who switched from diesel experienced 28% higher performance. Most importantly, the survey revealed that energy costs were reduced 50% per hour compared to their previously owned diesel engines.

While gasoline and diesel engines are a great choice in many applications, propane offers important advantages for powering irrigation systems that farmers shouldn’t ignore. If you are interested in an upgrade, your local irrigation dealer may be a great resource. If not, consult your local FS Propane Specialist for additional information.

Zach Baugher serves as GROWMARK’s manager of Propane Marketing and Technical Services.