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The Applications Of Electricity To Agriculture

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  • 25-10-2022
The Applications Of Electricity To Agriculture

Find out more about the the applications of electricity to agriculture. We look at modern applications of electricity in farming.

The impact of electric power on modern agriculture

The impact that electric power has had on modern agriculture cannot be understated. The impact can be compared to being as significant as the introduction of gasoline or steam.

Electricity, in its nature, is far more versatile than the power sources that were used in the past.

Even though, throughout the years, there had been plenty of scientific interest in the effects that electricity has on plant growth, which was brought on by the development of electric lamps, it was actually the introduction of the electric motor that made the farming community interested in electricity.

Experts claim that electricity was seen as valuable to farmers as early as 1870.

Electrical cooperatives

Even though there were clear advantages of the alternative, more readily available power sources, many progressive farmers in various different countries were determined to make use of the numerous possibilities that electricity offered on their farms.

In order to get electricity on their land, farmers formed cooperatives that would either purchase bulk power outright from bulk power existing facilities or they would have their own generating stations built.It is widely believed that the very first cooperatives were formed in 1900 in the country of Japan.

These were then followed up quickly by similar cooperatives in Germany in 1901. The cooperatives were growing at a considerable rate; they allowed for initial rural electrification but also created the basis for development in the future.

The progress of rural electrification started from these small beginnings, but slowly over time, the idea of farms having electricity gained increased support.

So much so that in the 1920s, due to public opinion, governments considered the development of rural electrification on a nationwide basis. In modern times, in almost all developed countries, all rural premises will have a satisfactory supply of electricity. 

This goes for all farming spaces, whether they be domestic, commercial, or industrial. The early implementations of electricity were restricted strictly to power and, in some cases, lighting. The total value of lighting was not fully realised for many years.

applications of electricity to agriculture

Electric motors were used in order to drive barn machinery, cattle cake and grain crushers, chaff cutters and root cutters, and water pumps. The ease of operation with electricity, along with the incredibly low maintenance, meant that huge savings were made when it came to time and labour.

It was not long before the electric motor started to replace the mobile steam engine with winnowing, threshing, and other types of crop-processing appliances outside of the bar.Within the farming fields of Europe, several quite large electrically driven rope-haulage ploughing installations came into use.

These systems proved not to stand the test of time or the competition from the emerging mobile internal-combustion-driven tractor. The application of electricity in agriculture did not have a significant increase until the 1920s.

The entire structure of agriculture changed once economic pressures grew and there was an increasing drift of labour from the land.

This change, which was started from the new techniques in intensive crop production as a result of the developments in mechanical, electrical, and electromechanical equipment, was the beginning of how agriculture evolved from the early labour-intensive industry to the modern capital-intensive industry.

In this evolution, electricity played a large part.

Modern applications of electricity in farming

There are vast amounts of electricity applications in modern farming; these can range from quite comparatively simple tasks to the complex jobs seen in large manufacturing industries.

Applications can include the conditioning and storage of grain and grass, the rationing and preparation of animal feed, and the creation of a controlled environment for stock-rearing buildings for intensive pig and poultry rearing and in greenhouses for crops. Electricity also plays a large part in the dairy industry.

Electricity is used in regular tasks such as feed rationing, milking, and milk cooling. With electricity, all these tasks can be automatically controlled. Computers have also become increasingly implemented too, in order to help in aspects of farm management and for the controlling of automated equipment.

The role of engineer and farmer have combined in order to create electrically powered equipment for crop conservation and storage. This helps with overcoming general weather hazards during the harvest period and with reducing labour requirements to the absolute minimum.

Grain would usually take months in order to harvest, but it can now be done in a matter of days. The grain can also be dried to the exact required moisture content for storage through the use of electrically driven fans and the more common electrical heater.

Modern Applications Of Electricity In Farming

Wilted grass can be cut when it is at the stage of maximum feeding value and can then be turned into high-quality hay in the barn by using forced ventilation. This also means there will be a much lower risk of spoilage loss due to inclement weather.

The conditioning and storage of some root crops, such as beets, carrots, onions, and potatoes, in specially designed spaces with ventilation and temperature control and of fruit in refrigerated spaces are all electricity-based techniques that are excellent for minimising waste and maintaining the highest quality of crops for more extended periods than was possible with the older and more traditional methods of storage.

The two most remarkable changes in the evolution of agricultural development since the end of World War II have been the amount to which specialisation has been embraced and the increased scope of farm enterprises.

There are vast numbers of beef cattle that are raised in enclosures and then very carefully fed with rations by automated equipment.

Thousands of pigs and tens of thousands of poultry and kept in unique spaces where the environments are controlled, and they are fed through automatic machinery with complex rations. Milking parlours are capable of machine milking dairy herds of up to 1,000 cows.

Through the use of complex electronic equipment, the cows are individually identified and given the correct rations. The milk from the cows goes straight to the refrigerated bulk milk tanks, where it is then made ready for immediate shipment.

Electricity In Agriculture Safety

Overhead power lines

Electricity has the ability to arc, jumping over gaps essentially, in certain situations when equipment or machinery becomes quite close.

This means that you do not need to actually come into contact with overhead power lines in order to receive a potentially lethal electric shock. Ensure that you know where on your farm the overhead power lines are located.

We would recommend ensuring that you have a map showing the routes of the lines; these are available from your Distribution Network Operator. You can also mark the route that the lines take on your own farm map.

You should ensure that workers visiting the farm, such as contractors, should also have copies of this map with details of overhead power lines.

What to do if you come into contact with an OHPL

If a section of a vehicle or load comes into contact with an overhead power line, then the operator needs to stay within the cab and get into contact with the DNO as soon as possible.

Display the number within the cab and keep it on your phone in case of an emergency.

When possible, try to drive clear. Electrocution can happen if anyone touches the machine and the ground at the same time.

If you need to get out, then our recommendation is to jump far clear so that there is no simultaneous contact made between you, the vehicle and the ground.

Do not return back to the vehicle until the owner of the line has made sure that the line has been made safe and completely de-energised. Any contact with an overhead power line can lead to the power supply "tripping out" temporarily.

The power may be reconnected and then re-energised automatically with no warning. Most importantly, other people need to stay clear and warn others not to approach

Electricity In Agriculture Safety

Your electrical system

Ensure the following:

There is an easily accessible and clearly identifiable switch near every piece of fixed machinery that allows a person to cut off the power in an emergency situation

Power cables linked to machines are appropriately protected with a good earth connection.

There are a suitable amount of socket outlets for the required number of machines. Overloading sockets by using adaptors is a fire hazard.

All circuit breakers and fuses are correctly rated for the circuit that they are protecting. Fuses should never be bypassed, over-wired, or wrapped with foil.

All main switches are easily accessible and clearly identifiable, so everyone knows how to use them in an emergency situation.

Any damaged cables or other defects need to be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.

Installations should be maintained periodically, and if any issues are found, then repairs need to be made by a competent electrician.

If you require a local agricultural electrician in Lincolnshire, get in touch today. Contact us today for electrical services in Spalding and Lincolnshire. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.