New research by the Propane Education & Research Council shows that propane use is expanding beyond traditional uses as U.S. farmers seek to cut fuel costs, increase efficiency, and meet emissions standards.
Propane is currently used by more than 40% of farms in the U.S., PERC says. According to a survey conducted by the group and Artemis Strategy Group, the most common uses for propane among farmers are building heating, at 47%, and grain drying, at 35%.
The survey also showed that the role of propane on farms is changing, as more farmers are choosing propane to fuel vehicles and irrigation systems over other alternative fuels such as natural gas.
According to the survey, 14% are using propane to fuel a vehicle on the farm (compared with natural gas at 1%) and 5% are using propane for irrigation (compared with natural gas at 2%).
"Every year, new, fuel-efficient propane-powered irrigation engines, grain dryers, work trucks, and forklifts are hitting the market," said Cinch Munson, PERC director of agriculture business development. "As more options become available, more farmers will turn to propane for greater efficiency and fuel savings."
Favorability of propane is high among farmers, the survey said. Approximately 84% of farmers viewed propane as favorable, compared with 61% for natural gas, and 33% for heating oil.
Farmers cited their overall comfort with the fuel, its affordability, and positive experiences with propane as reasons for high favorability. Farmers also liked that propane is made in America.