“One of the things we are currently looking at is how to better manage electrical consumption,” highlights Daniel Boffety, researcher at Irstea’s Clermont-Ferrand center . He and his colleagues work on the EDEN  project, which started in 2011 and promotes more rational energy usage for farms.
Real-time data acquisition of energy consumption lies at the heart of this project. This has, for example, been tested on the motors of farm machines. “We have developed a tool, installed alongside the gauge, which allows us to collect data on fuel levels while following the machine’s GPS location,” explains the researcher. The point ? To know precisely what the fuel consumption is for any task undertaken, such as plowing or transporting grain to the cooperative. "This careful analysis of energy performances is essential to decrease energy consumption: knowing how much energy each task consumes means that we can focus on those areas that need changing."
An initial sensor prototype was developed, and several sites participated in the experiment, including the Pradel farm in Ardèche which belongs to the Institut de l'Elevage (Livestock Institute) and several locations belonging to the Brittany Chamber of Agriculture. The next stage is for Exotic Systems, a project partner, to develop a marketable case.
Significant energy costs
There are currently no standards requiring farms to manage their energy consumption. However, beyond the environmental considerations, energy costs are a heavy load on farming budgets. "This information is useful for farm profitability and can provide invaluable management support. Overall, the data will also make it possible to compare the profitability of several farms, as this can vary."
From data to indicators
Initially, the gathered data will be used to create a database, but this is not enough: the information must be usable and searchable so that comparable indicators can be extracted (for example, fuel consumption per hectare plowed to sow a specific crop) and different questions answered. In time, farms will be able to give themselves overall rankings in relation to other farms in the same sector. This is the final aim in developing the database.
For more information
 Irstea, and more specifically the Montoldre (03) site, is a partner in the EDEN project. This project aims to develop and test a solution to automatically acquire fuel consumption data on mobile equipment as well as to develop a database and data warehouse in order to create dashboards tailored to the interpretation of results, with specific focus on equipment used on site.
 EDEN Project (2011-2015): Entrepôts de Données spatiales au service de l’évaluation des performances ENergétiques des entreprises agricoles (Warehouse for spatial data used to evaluate the energy performance of farms) Project coordinated by Acta and Arvalis, in partnership with the Livestock Institute (IDELE), Irstea and the Morbihan Chamber of Agriculture's experimental site in Kerguéhennec.