University of Maryland Extension

Understanding Farm Energy

How much energy is used on Maryland farms? The energy used to perform many routine crop and livestock operations may cost your farm several hundred or thousands of dollars each month. On average, 15% of agricultural production costs in the United States are spent on the fuels and electricity used for equipment operation (see Figure 1) as modern agricultural equipment uses a significant amount of fuel and energy. Additional costs arise from the energy used indirectly through petroleum-based products (i.e., fertilizer and pesticides) and through transportation which becomes a concern for more rural farms with products traveling further to markets. The cost of this energy comes amidst growing concerns over low farm profits, rising energy prices in the ag sector (EIA, 2019), and Maryland’s rapidly changing energy environment which requires 50% of the state’s electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2030. The greatest impact of the changing energy market is expected on those farms using a lot of machinery due to their elevated fuel use, and smaller farms that are unable to distribute their energy costs.
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