FuelCost A tool to evaluation irrigation pumping costs
August 2002

Gary A. Clark, Danny H. Rogers, and Steven Briggeman
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
K-State Research and Extension

Printable FuelCost User Guide (PDF Format)

FuelCost Audio Help Files

To listen to the User Guide audio, you'll need RealPlayer installed on your machine. Download it here:

Start listening to the FuelCost Audio Manual #1 - OPTIONAL

FuelCost can help determine whether your pumping plant is using more fuel than necessary for your pumping conditions. FuelCost also can compare the cost of alternative fuel sources on either an energy basis or an annualized capital operating cost basis.

Disclaimer: Use of trade names does not imply endorsement of named product or criticism of others.


Getting Started TOP OF PAGE

Start FuelCost by double clicking its icon, either on your desktop or from the Start --> Programs -->MIL Tool Kit menu. The first screen you will see is shown in Figure 1. Click on the Start button to begin the program.

Figure 1 – The start screen of FuelCost

The Main Input Screen   TOP OF PAGE

Before any calculations can be made, the program needs some general information about your field and irrigation system. This information can be entered on the screen shown in Figure 2.

The five general inputs that need to be entered are irrigated field size (acres), water discharge rate (gpm), well head operating pressure (psi), pumping water lift and friction head loss (feet), and annual irrigation application depth (inches). Do not worry; if any of these entries sound confusing, there are help screens available by clicking on the question mark button just to the right of each input.

As an example, Figure 2 has values entered in the appropriate input boxes. The irrigated field size is 125 acres, water discharge rate is 800 gallons per minute, well head operating pressure is 35 psi, pumping water lift and friction head loss is 164 feet, and the annual irrigation application depth is 12 inches. As mentioned before, help is available for each input by clicking the question mark button just to the right of each input.

Figure 2 – General information must be entered on this screen before the
program can perform the evaluations.

As an example, Figure 3 shows the help screen for Pumping Water Lift & Friction Head Loss. To help you determine the value, you can enter the vertical lift distance and the horizontal length of pipe from the pump to the center irrigation system. To further clarify what is needed, the required distances are displayed in the graphic on the right side of the help screen. After entering the two inputs, the estimated pumping water lift and friction head loss is displayed in red numbers at the bottom of the screen. By clicking the Continue button, the value is automatically entered into the input box back on the main screen.

Once all of the input values are entered, click the Continue button to advance to the evaluation choice screen. The program is now ready to begin a variety of evaluations. Remember, the accuracy of FuelCost is only as good as your input estimates.

Figure 3 – The help screen for Pumping Water Lift & Friction Head Loss

Start listening to the FuelCost Audio Manual #2 - OPTIONAL
Evaluate Current Pumping Costs   TOP OF PAGE

The main use of FuelCost is to evaluate your current pumping costs. With information on your fuel type, fuel price, and total seasonal fuel cost, FuelCost will evaluate the efficiency of your system compared to an efficient system. To run this evaluation, click on the Evaluate Current Pumping Costs button, as seen in Figure 4.

Figure 4 – This screen allows you to choose from several possible evaluations. TOP OF PAGE

Figure 5 – Evaluate your current pumping costs by entering your fuel type, fuel price, and annual fuel bill.

To complete the evaluation, FuelCost needs to know your current fuel type, fuel price, and annual fuel costs. These values are entered into the screen shown in Figure 5. If you do not know your annual fuel costs, take a guess. For example, try $4,500. This would be typical for a 125 acre field with a 12 inch seasonal depth.
After entering your fuel information, click the Evaluate button to complete the evaluation. The Pumping Cost Evaluation Results screen, shown in Figure 6, will then be displayed on your screen. The evaluation consists of the calculated brake horsepower requirement to pump the water, the projected seasonal pumping hours, projected hourly fuel use, a comparison of your actual fuel cost and the projected seasonal fuel cost, and a brief analysis of the evaluation. In our example, our seasonal fuel cost of $4,120 is much larger than the projected seasonal fuel cost of $2,875. In the analysis, it is stated that our pumping plant is operating at 70% of the Nebraska Performance Criteria. The Nebraska Performance Criteria is a standardized guideline for the performance of a properly designed and maintained pumping plant.

Figure 6 – The Pumping Cost Evaluation Results window.

Printing a Report TOP OF PAGE

Once an evaluation is complete, you can print an evaluation summary for your records. To print a report of your evaluation, simply click the Print Report button at the bottom of your evaluation screen. Once you do this, you should see the screen in Figure 7.

The field name or ID that you enter on this screen will be used on your printed report for this system. A completed field evaluation report is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 7 – Before printing an evaluation report, enter a field name or ID.


FuelCost is a tool to help provide general information regarding the performance of an irrigation pumping plant. Seek additional help from a well driller or other service provider if FuelCost indicates performance inefficiency to make certain the estimates used were valid.

Figure 8 – An example of the Pumping Cost Evaluation printout