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Pumping Plant Efficiency

Most agricultural producers are using older diesel power units and old wells where upgrading to newer wells and diesel or electric motors need to be technically and economically evaluated.  As the price of gasoline and diesel fuel rises, the cost of irrigating crops in Arkansas dramatically increases.

Irrigators need a mechanism by which to evaluate the state of their pumping systems. With the current high diesel cost, this information is crucial in determining the profitability of switching to an electric motor or rebuilding existing diesel power plants. Additionally, producers need such analyses when applying for federal grant funds from the Resource Conservation & Development Councils (RC&D) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to assist them with electrical infrastructure or well replacements, respectively.

How is pumping efficiency determined?

A pumping system’s efficiency is calculated by comparing the amount of fuel used with the amount of water pumped. This efficiency will change due to the depth of water being pulled from a well, the condition of an engine and the rate at which the motor is turning. The calculated performance is then compared with the performance of the motor under perfect, laboratory standards. Typically, electric pumping systems will have a 75-85% overall efficiency, and diesel-powered pumps will have between 18-35% efficiency, depending on the age and care of the engine.

To calculate a system’s pumping efficiency, several pieces of information are needed. If this information is not able to be collected, assumptions can be made to estimate the efficiency. However, great care needs to be taken to make appropriate assumptions to prevent a gross over- or underestimation of the system’s performance.

Irrigating Smart conserves water, saves money and reduces energy.  The Irrigation Pumping Plant Efficiency Series was developed by the LSU AgCenter, Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture and New Mexico State University.

3241-A Understanding Water Horsepower | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA brief explanation of the origin of the horsepower unit and how it relates to the power ratings of modern irrigation pumps – along with information about water horsepower, pump horsepower and pump efficiency.

Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

Understanding Water Horsepower 3241-A

3241-B Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA variable frequency drive, known as a VFD, is an electronic drive system used to control electric motors. Its purpose is varying motor speed by controlling input frequency and voltage.

Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

Variable Frequency Drives 3241-B

3241-C Soft Starters for Electric Motors | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA brief explanation of Electrical Motor Soft Starters.

Blair Stringam, Department of Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

Soft Starters for Electric Motors 3241-C

 3241-D Determining the Cost of Electricity of a Natural Gas Generator | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionInfrastructure costs associated with delivering necessary electrical power from the grid often make this conversion to properly sized, efficient pumping plants an economic compromise. An alternative method for electrical power delivery in these scenarios is the installation of an on-site natural gas generator that can power multiple smaller electrical pumping plants.

Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

Determining the Cost of Electricity of a Natural Gas Generator 3241-D

 3241-E Measuring Natural Gas at an Irrigation Pumping Plant | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionAccurately measuring natural gas consumption at an irrigation pumping plant is a vital aspect of evaluating engine and pumping plant performance. Unfortunately, determining natural gas consumption usually is not as simple as reading a natural gas meter. This document will provide basic information about, as well as methods of, measuring natural gas from a common natural gas meter.

Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

Measuring Natural Gas at an Irrigation Pumping Plant 3241-

 

 3241-F Basics of On-site Pumping Plant Evaluations | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionA pumping plant evaluation is a testing method that allows for individual pumping plant components to be evaluated for efficiency to help in determining component sizing, replacement, compatibility and the associated economics.

Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

Basics of On-site Pumping Plant Evaluations 3241-F

 3241-G Diesel and Natural Gas Dual Fuel | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionIn recent years, personal and private demand for diesel fuel has increased and diesel fuel prices have steadily risen to that of a premium fuel. This evolution has had a dramatic effect on irrigation pumping costs, to the point where many farms cannot economically continue to pump irrigation water using diesel fuel.

Nicholas Kenny, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M University

Diesel and Natural Gas Dual Fuel 3241-G

 3241-H Pump Curves | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionThe best pump performance occurs when the pump is correctly matched to the application. This requires knowledge of the application and the pump.

David Bankston, Food Sciences, LSU AgCenter

Pump Curves 3241-H

 3241-I How to Read Electrical Meters | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionElectric utility companies bill clients in kilowatt-hours, abbreviated kWh. The typical American electric meter is a device that looks like a clock. The clock-like device is driven by the electricity that moves through it.

Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

How to Read Electrical Meters 3241-I

 3241-J Pump Efficiency | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionThis publication includes a definition of pump horsepower, an explanation of pump efficiency and information about how to calculate those values.

Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

Pump Efficiency 3241-J

 3241-K Tips for Conserving Irrigation Water in the Southern Region | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionThese irrigation management tips are designed to promote applying the water needed by the crop uniformly and efficiently while minimizing surface runoff. Combine these tips with local crop agronomic practices for a systematic approach to water conservation.

Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
Joseph H. Massey, Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University
Horace C. Pringle, Irrigation Research Engineer, Mississippi State University
L. Jason Krutz, Extension Irrigation Specialist, Mississippi State University
Blair Stringam, Extension Plant Sciences, New Mexico State University

Tips for Conserving Irrigation Water in the Southern Region 3241-K

 3241-L Measuring Irrigation Flow | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionMeasuring irrigation flow contributes to better management and scheduling of irrigation events, thus improving profitability.

Ron E. Sheffield, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, LSU AgCenter
Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
David Bankston, Food Sciences, LSU AgCenter
William A. Hadden, Extension Specialist (retired), LSU AgCenter

Measuring Irrigation Flow 3241-L

 3241-M Irrigation Pumping Plant Safety | Irrigating Smart: Pumping Plant Efficiency Series | Arkansas ExtensionAgricultural irrigation systems move large quantities of water over short periods of time, consuming and creating a significant amount of energy in the process. So these systems require caution during operation and service.

Christopher G. Henry, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas
Ron E. Sheffield, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, LSU AgCenter
Nicholas Kenny, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University

Irrigation Pumping Plant Safety 3241-M

 

 

 

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