As an example of what propane engines are capable of, Leitman points to Swindle Farms of Elaine, Ark. “Through a few applications, they were granted a total of 11 engines at five or six locations. Most were 5.7-liter GM engines purchased through Cunningham Propane in West Helena, Ark. They saw significant savings.”

How significant? Swindle Farms reduced fuel costs “by 68 percent per hour compared with their diesel-fueled engines.

“Many of our users in 2013 found propane costs right at $1.50 per gallon. That was on about 150 tests nationwide. The diesel cost was close to $3.50 so there was a good chance to save money by switching to propane.”

Not only is the cost for a new 5.7-liter GM propane engine cheaper than an equivalent horsepower diesel engine, says Leitman. “The propane engines can meet strict emission standards more easily because the fuel is cleaner to begin with.”

Sometimes the engines are placed permanently at the well. It’s also common for them to be mounted on a small trailer for security and storage and maintenance during the offseason.

“One other plus is propane is an American-made fuel and it’s a good thing for everyone to get behind.”

How does the incentive program work?

“We want to push this very hard because it’s such a great opportunity for farmers. In 2013, we had over 200 applicants that were granted and supplied. In 2014, we’d love to reach 250 approvals.

“This is real money and not difficult to get.

“Essentially, it pays $400 per liter of engine size. So, simple math, if you bought an 8.0-liter engine times $400, it would provide $3,200. The incentive for a 5.7-liter engine would be $2,120.”

In return, farmers simply have to collect very basic fuel consumption data -- things like hours of use and maintenance. “They provide us with that data after harvest in November or December. That’s it."

Data from 2013 survey shows propane irrigation engines slashed producers’ fuel costs an average of 56 percent per hour compared with similar diesel-powered engines. Further, the producers reduced overall fuel consumption by 37 percent per hour.

“We accept any new, EPA-certified engine in the program. We don’t accept rebuilt, remanufactured or non-EPA certified engines.”

The incentive not only works for irrigation engines but also for some grain dryers. There is also funding available for some flame weed control for organic operations.

Producers can find an application for the incentive program at

Contact Leitman at: