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FARM GENERATORS FOR AGRICULTURE PURPOSES – WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

The agriculture industry is critical to our nation’s economic health and impacts every Zimbabwean’s personal survival. To ensure farms and fields produce healthy crops and livestock and remain in operation, agricultural businesses require a dependable supply of electricity. That’s why backup farm generators are vital.

If you are a Zimbabwean farmer, you know how essential an uninterrupted electrical supply is to support your livelihood. Continuous electrical power is mandatory, especially in today’s increasingly automated agricultural world where complex systems are helpless when the power grid drops off. However, that would not be a problem if you have a backup generator for your agriculture business.

AUTOMATION NEEDS IN AGRICULTURE

In the centuries since the Industrial Revolution caused the Agricultural Revolution, farm mechanization allowed increased yields with less human effort. Harnessing electricity and delivering it through a nation-wide grid system allowed distant areas to capitalize on generated power. Reliable electricity helped develop automated agricultural equipment to increase productivity and profits. The key to successful electric farm automation was making sure the power supply was dependable.

Today, Zimbabwean and at large, world agriculture is a huge economic generator. Because of automation, farmers can parlay their human and mechanical assets into greater yields than possible even a few decades ago. Statistics establish how important employment is in the agricultural and farming sector. Overall, the bigger umbrella of agriculture employs thousands of workers while the farming subsidiary also supports thousands of people, which makes up a chunk of the entire Zimbabwean workforce. This wouldn’t be possible without electricity supporting advanced automation in every agricultural facet.

THE RISKS FARMS FACE WITH POWER OUTAGES

The farming industry depends on an immense electrical power supply. Farming and agricultural business use automated systems to keep production running. Automated processes have shifted over time, and today’s automation is highly evolved. Because automated agricultural systems are so intertwined with core business functions, it’s never been more necessary to back up the electrical supply.

A modern automated farm can’t allow their electrical flow to be interrupted. Even short term electrical outages can have devastating effects on livestock and crop survival. Although automation has improved almost every farming process, high technology has created an Achilles’ heel for the modern agricultural industry.

Fortunately, there’s a proven solution to this problem. You can easily protect yourself and your business from the electrical stoppage vulnerability by incorporating a generator into your farm’s infrastructure. A backup generator lets you continue regular operations while waiting to tie back into the communal grid.

BACKUP POWER GENERATOR FOR FARM USE

Backup power generators are necessary for farms and other businesses involved in agricultural production. Investing in a backup farm generator is just as critical as carrying general insurance policies that cover farm buildings, production equipment, and living assets.

Electrical power interruptions will cause immense grief to plants and animals being raised in human-created artificial environments. Defending crops and livestock from power loss is a top priority for responsible farmers. In fact, no farm incorporating an automated production system should be without an auxiliary power generator.

Successful farming means that electricity keeps flowing when the regular power supply stops. The main reason for commercial power outages is Mother Nature. Harsh weather creates high winds, heavy rains and storms that sever transmission lines. Although you can’t do anything about the weather, you certainly can protect your farm or agricultural operation from power loss with a backup generator.

Power interruptions also happen from grid overloads that cause rolling brownouts. These happen when electrical demand on a grid exceeds the supply at a given time. Brownout periods will likely increase as areas of the country grow, placing more draw on a maximum-capacity electrical grid. Having a backup generator protects your farm against brownout interruption or other electrical downtimes.

WHO DO FARM POWER OUTAGES AFFECT MOST?

Farming is a primary contributor to the agricultural industry, even though not all agricultural activities happen directly on farms. However, it’s frontline farmers who suffer the most when their automated systems fail from power outages. Power failure affects both of these two primary farming segments:

  • Crop producers: Farmers produce a wide array of crops that require electrical support. Many greenhouse operations are fully automated with electrically controlled lighting, irrigation, nutrient, and ventilation systems. Crop producers can’t afford electrical interruption and must have generators backing up their power supply.
  • Livestock producers: Many livestock farmers raise their animals in indoor conditions where life support systems depend on electrically powered automation. Live creatures in close quarters are at the mercy of mechanical components. Most livestock can’t survive for long when an electrical failure happens. Back-up generators are a livestock lifesaver.

Although living crops are vulnerable to power loss, their health risk isn’t as severe as livestock. Artificially grown crops like vegetables and flowers quickly distress from a lack of light or water. However, crops are nowhere near as risky compared to livestock such as poultry, meat, and dairy stock.

Losing any living animal on a farm due to unnecessary electrical downtime can cost an agricultural business a lot of money. Prolonged power loss could be fatal to a farm’s bottom line through losing an entire crop or barn full of livestock. Backup generators will protect you from a loss no matter what agricultural sector you operate in. Here are principal agricultural segments that benefit from farm generator use.

1. DAIRY

Automation has revolutionized the dairy industry. Since the milking machine was invented, technological advancements led to computerization and automation of dairy production. Today, every part of a modern dairy farm depends on an unbroken electric supply to keep production steady and safe.

Electrically powered computer systems track cow location, milking schedules, and feeding timelines. Electricity also keeps milk storage facilities at a healthy level. Any power loss in a dairy farm would have a serious economic impact, and this can easily be prevented with an auxiliary electrical generator.

2. POULTRY

Farm-raised poultry like chickens and turkeys also depend on electricity for survival. Many birds raised for meat and egg production reside in tight quarters that contain automated systems controlled by electrically powered components. Poultry farms implement complicated feed and watering systems.

Automated farms also require continuous ventilation and air conditioning controls to keep healthy stock. Even short electrical interruptions in a poultry barn could have fatal consequences. That risk is completely managed by having a backup generator for poultry farm automation.

3. GREENHOUSES

Technological advancements in the greenhouse industry allow for higher crop yields in smaller areas than growers can achieve under natural field conditions. Automation drives greenhouse efficiency, which results in higher profits from denser settings. Automated greenhouse features like light control, precise heat settings and intricate ventilation systems are vital supports to greenhouse operations.

Computerized water and nutrient supplies also increase crop yield. Greenhouse automation and plant health depend on uninterrupted electrical energy flow. For that, a backup generator for greenhouse operations is mandatory. Generators ensure crops never fail from power loss and that supports a greenhouse business’ bottom line.

4. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Animal husbandry is the science of breeding farm animals as well as caring for their welfare. Farmers who raise meat animals like hogs and cattle have a lot invested in their livestock. Many modern animal husbandry farms have sophisticated automation systems assisting their operations. Every automated system depends on continuous electricity for animal welfare.

Total confinement facilities are highly productive for livestock like hogs. While confined pens and corrals allow easy stock management, they pose extreme risks to the animals’ health and survival when the power supply stops. That’s because confined facilities have precision heat and ventilation controls, and animals can quickly overheat or suffocate from dangerous air conditions. Looking after animal husbandry responsibilities is a principal benefit of farm generator uses.

5. HARVESTING

Automation makes harvesting crop yields and livestock returns highly efficient. Electrically powered automation systems help dairy farmers milk cows, hog farmers harvest stock, and egg producers gather inventory. Automation also helps greenhouse growers harvest crops quickly and profitably.

While automated systems are invaluable when it comes to harvest time, they also have to be dependable and available. Harvests can be delayed or destroyed because of sudden and unexpected power stops. Investing in a backup generator prevents delays or destruction, and lets harvests proceed as planned with produce delivered to the market on time. Without a doubt, generators for harvesting are excellent investments.

POWERING AREAS OFF THE GRID

As the agricultural industry expands, it moves into areas that are off the grid. Those are untapped regions where land is available but conventional electrical supplies are not. That used to be a major restriction for expanding farmers while they waited for commercial power suppliers to extend their grid.

Grid restriction isn’t as big an issue as it was in the past. Today, many enterprising farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs choose off-grid locations because they have a reliable and economical power alternative. These energy alternatives are technologically advanced electrical generation systems that run independently of a high-voltage power grid.

Powering Areas off the Grid

Off-grid locations also include specialized zones where economic benefits make farming attractive despite having no available electrical grid. Benefits include plentiful water supplies, the right weather conditions, and even tax breaks. Many off-grid farmers also benefit from the solitude that remote farms offer and capitalize on the get-off-the-grid factor.

Off-grid agriculturalists are resourceful people. They choose this lifestyle for personal reasons. Some like the freedom of off-grid life. Others enjoy the challenge of developing non-traditional farming methods and make the most out of challenging conditions.

Growing crops and raising livestock off the grid still requires some sort of power. Some resourceful off-grid farmers experiment with alternative energy sources like water, wind, and solar power. While these use natural energy sources to convert into electricity, the cost of infrastructure can be prohibitively expensive. That’s not to mention intermittent interruptions and general unreliability that alternative energy production offers.

CONTAINED GENERATOR SYSTEM – BEST CHOICE FOR OFF THE GRID

The best choice for off-the-grid agricultural electrical energy needs is a contained generator system. There is no better alternative electricity provider than a quality generator that’s carefully chosen and properly sized for your off-grid farm. Today’s high-tech generators provide you with a continuous and dependable electrical supply. That’s regardless of weather conditions or how far in the future the mainstream electrical grid reaches your location.

Off-grid farmers usually choose diesel-powered generators. Stand-alone electrical generators using diesel fuel to run engines driving generation units are efficient, economical and safe.

If you’re an off-grid farmer, your best choice for continuous and dependable electricity is a generator. You can certainly experiment with wind, water or solar alternative energy sources, but you’re wise to mix in a mainstay diesel-powered generator. Your crop and livestock lives depend on it.

DOES MY FARM NEED A GENERATOR?

Your farm will benefit from a generator whether you’re on or off the electrical grid. As a large capacity farmer who depends on a commercial electrical supply for mainstay power, you still need a backup generator for those inevitable moments when the grid goes down. When your diesel or natural gas-powered generator kicks in, your operations continue as normal.

The same applies if you’re a smaller scale farmer making a living off the grid. Your farm needs a dependable generator to keep you running on a day-to-day basis. Your generator becomes the backbone of your agricultural operation, and you can’t prosper without it.

There’s a lot at stake for all farmers when they don’t invest in backup generator insurance. Even short and temporary power outages can have devastating effects on livestock and crops. You might not be able to financially recover from losing your animals due to heatstroke or suffocation and your crops from cycle interruption shock.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT GENERATOR FOR AGRICULTURE PURPOSE

Investing in a backup generator prevents lost revenue and unnecessary agricultural waste. Whether you choose a new electrical generator or a premium used generator, a high-quality generator is a perfect solution to power problems no matter where you are.

There are two crucial factors in choosing a backup generator for your farm or agricultural application. One, make sure your generator is the correct size for your current and future needs. The other critical factor: partnering with the right electrical generator supplier. Your next step is finding that right supplier.

TECH AFRICA IS YOUR AGRICULTURAL GENERATOR SUPPLIER

TECH AFRICA is your agricultural generator partner. We specialize in selling new high-quality generators in Harare, Zimbabwe. At Tech Africa, you can choose from a wide range of diesel and petrol powered generators in sizes from 2KVA to 1000KVA.

 

To learn more about how TECH AFRICA can help you with agricultural electrical generating problems on and off the grid, call us today. We’ll help you assess your specific needs and find the right agriculture generator.

Call and ask to speak with Daniel on +263772156504, or you can always reach us through our online contact form.

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How Diesel Generators Work

Diesel generators – sometimes called gensets – are relied upon by many businesses and other organizations to supply the electrical power they need during cuts, brownouts, or any other interruption to mains power. There are many different types and configurations of generators, but they all work essentially the same way and have the same core components.

How do Diesel Generators create Electricity?

A diesel generator converts mechanical energy (movement) into electrical power and channels it through power cables. It can be helpful to imagine electricity flowing through wires in much the same way water flows through pipes. A generator can be thought of as a kind of ‘electrical pump’ which causes the electricity to flow through the wires. It doesn’t actually create or destroy the electrons that flow through the wires any more than a water pump creates new water. It just causes it to move in a useful fashion.

The Main Components of a Diesel Generator

Diesel Generators, Silent Generators, Generators Harare

The Engine

This is typically a diesel engine, much like that in a large vehicle, the bigger the source of mechanical energy, the more electrical power can come out ‘the other end’.

The Alternator

This is the part which turns the mechanical energy (the rotation of the shaft) into electrical power through induction. The ‘how’ of the alternator is one of the most fascinating parts of a generator. Faraday discovered (or at least described) the process of ‘electromagnetic induction’ in the early 1830s. This principle holds that if you move a wire (or any electrical conductor) through a magnetic field, an electric current is ‘induced’ in the wire. The same is true if the wire is still and the magnetic field moves. Simply moving through a magnetic field causes the electrons to flow through the wire. If the wire moves north-south, the electrons flow one way, and if it moved back south-north, they flow into the other. The stronger the field and the longer the wire, the greater the amount of current induced. Modern generators work by placing several large, powerful magnets in a cluster around a central, rotating shaft. This is called the ‘rotor’ or ‘armature’. The magnets might be permanent magnets or electromagnets, but the point is that they produce a magnetic field, which the engine causes to turn. The other important sub-component of the alternator is the ‘stator’, which is essentially a series of tightly bundled coils of wire, all packed closely around the rotor. When an outside force (such as a diesel engine) turns the central shaft, the rotor constantly moves the north and south poles of its magnetic field(s) across the bundles of wire that surround them. This causes a great deal of electrical current to flow back and forth through the wires – what we call ‘alternating current’ or ‘AC’ mains power.

The Fuel System

This is typically the diesel fuel supply for the engine. The most obvious part is a tank holding enough fuel for at least 6-8 hours of operation. This tank may be inside the generator housing for smaller, or portable units, or it may be a separate external structure for larger, permanently installed units. Other parts of the fuel system involve pipe-work to get the fuel to the engine, a fuel pump similar to the one in most vehicles, a fuel filter, and a ventilation pipe or valve for the fuel tank, preventing overpressure or vacuum inside. There will also be an overflow connection ensuring that if the tank is overfilled, the fuel is channeled away, and not simply splashed over the surface of the engine or alternator.

The Voltage Regulator

This is a fairly complex but important component. Without it, the voltage and amperage of the AC current provided would vary according to the speed of the engine. As modern electrical equipment relies on a very steady power supply, something is required to level it out. The workings of a voltage regulator are quite ingenious and are beyond the scope of this article. It is probably enough to know what it does, for now.

The Cooling System

Just like in a vehicle, the engine produces a great deal of waste heat in addition to mechanical energy. The power flowing through the alternator also produces heat via the electrical resistance of the wires themselves. Again, like in your car, this heat is soaked up by a coolant fluid, often but not necessarily water, which then runs through a heat exchanger, dumping its heat typically into the air, or sometimes into a secondary coolant fluid.

The Exhaust System

All internal combustion engines produce exhaust gases. These are toxic and must be directed away from the engine itself and any nearby people. Exhaust gases are typically channeled through pipes and vented into the outside air. There are typically health and safety regulations about how and where exhaust systems must be channeled, so consult these carefully before installing a new generator.

The Lubrication (oil) System

Any engine requires lubrication, and this is handled by an oil pump and reservoir attached to the engine itself.

The Starter & Battery System

Again, just like in a car or lorry, the diesel motor relies on a small electrical motor to start running. This electrical starter motor is powered by a battery, which is charged by either a separate charger or the generator output itself.

The Control Panel

The control panel is where the generator is operated. Typical controls & outputs included on most control panels are:

  • Start/shutdown controls (manual, automatic, or both)
  • Phase selector switch
  • Frequency switch
  • Engine mode switch
  • Engine fuel
  • Engine oil
  • Engine speed
  • Coolant temperature
  • Battery charge
  • Generator output voltage
  • Generator output current (amperage)
  • Generator Output in kVA
  • AC power frequency

The frame/Housing

Thegensetwill either be contained in a weatherproof housing, an open structural frame, or a transportable unit. All of these function to keep the components together and solidly attached. It also ensures that all electrical components are safely grounded.

The Canopy

A diesel generator can also be covered in an acoustically treated canopy which dramatically reduces the dB level, even from within as little as a meter away, the engine noise can be very little. A generator with an acoustic canopy covering the other elements is often referred to as a Silent Generator.

 

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The importance of fuel maintenance and filters for Generators

Fuel monitoring, sampling, testing, as well as fuel maintenance, are very important aspects of your generator maintenance. If you do not take out the time and energy that is required to do these, then you will have to pay more on the long run in terms of finance, energy and possible breakdown that would eventually result.

Degradation of fuel is natural and almost an inevitable process and if you want a lesser overall cost of operating your generator you had better implement a befitting maintenance program right away.

Diesel generators are very common these days so it is reasonable to discuss diesel fuel itself when we want to talk about fuel maintenance. Big generators and pumps used onshore and offshore are mostly diesel powered. This also extends to many other portable generators. The diesel fuel itself is very complicated and studies have shown that no two separate batches of diesel can ever possess exactly the same chemical properties. This is to say that it is a non-homogenous fluid.

The factors that can affect the shelf life (the period of time it can be stored before becoming unusable as diesel), the deterioration and filterability of the fuel are said to be too numerous. These factors include the forms of transportation used to move the fuel from place to place, where the fuel is stored, a natural chemical process called oxidation. Also, there is the use of biofuel, the source of its crude oil, and the use of additives to mention a few.

The rate at which fuel in generator tanks breaks down is generally affected by factors largely grouped into internal and external factors. By internal factors, what is meant is that these breakdowns can occur or be accelerated due to the processes ongoing in the generator unit’s system of operation.

These factors include exposure to heat and pressure from the engine’s injection system and hot fuel that is returned to the tank of the generator. The external factors mean things that are out of the control of the power generating system. They include things like temperature change and contamination from microbes. These lists of external and internal factors that affect the rate of fuel breakdown are in no way exhaustive and deliberate attempts should be made to find out more if you feel you need them.

Fuel Filters and How to Maintain Them

Almost all IC engines these days have fuel filters which are usually found along the fuel supply line between the tank and the engine. Usually, they look like cartridges containing filter papers. The job of the filter is very important in maintaining the efficiency of the generator, therefore, it should be properly maintained.

Most times maintaining the filter simply means replacing the old one with a new one but there are of course special filters that can be cleaned and re-used a number of times.

It is very important to buy a generator of good quality for reliable and efficient power supply as the truth remains that every generator needs proper servicing. Fuel maintenance and inspection/change of fuel filters are essential parts of the servicing process which in the long run gives your generator a longer life.

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