Air compressors are used across many industries, from laboratories and chemical production to plant work and respirators. But it is the agriculture industry where air compression systems are pioneering new and efficient methods of crop production, transport and general farm maintenance. Want to improve the way you do business on your farm? An air compressor could be the answer.
Whether you're thinking of buying a new compressor or getting more use out of your current model, you should know the basics.
An air compressor is basically an engine for moving compressed air. Harnessing that power comes down to utilising 'end points’ to achieve a desired result. As you will see, there are a number of ways endpoints can be used around the farm.
The typical PSI rating (pounds per square inch) for an air compressor used at home or on a small farm is 90 PSI.
The average home or small farm compressor will power directly off your home electricity grid. The more industrial level air compressors require three phase power.
The duty cycle is the relationship between how long an air compressor should be left on and turned off. A 50% duty cycle means an air compressor should be given 30 minutes of ‘off time’ for every 30 minutes of ‘on time’ over the course of an hour. Running an air compressor for greater than its duty time can impact the lift of the device. For small compressors such as piston air compressors the duty cycle is measured in intervals of 10 minutes. So if the pistons duty cycle is 50% as in the above example is should run only 5 minutes every 10 minutes and rest for 5 minutes. This where the air receiver comes in handy so a consistent flow can be achieved while the air compressor is “resting”, providing it has been sized correctly.
Air compressors have been used around the farm for decades. Some of these methods are tried and true, others are more cutting edge, offering a glimpse into the future of agriculture.
Vehicles like tractors, ATVs and utes are integral to keeping the business of your farm on track. A flat tire can mean the difference between an hour’s work and an entire day’s efforts. Fortunately, air compressors can quickly boost the tyre pressure of most farm vehicles. Also useful for regular maintenance, tire pressure is one of the most popular uses for air compressors around the farm.
At the end of a hard day sorting and boxing up produce, there’s nothing more satisfying than a quick and easy clean up. Air compressor based cleaning systems are a highly efficient way of power cleaning your production area with a minimum of fuss. You can even use them to clean barnyard and manure storage areas. Air compressors are more cost efficient than most other solutions, as they don't require expensive consumables, and instead rely on the power of compressed air.
Handy in a pinch for a bit of DIY work around the home and shed, pneumatic staplers and nail guns can make fast work of farm jobs like: •Putting up new structures •Maintenance on existing structures •Running wire mesh from post to post •Repairing upholstery Most pneumatic nail guns and staplers run off small air compressors. Just be sure to check the manual and determine if your stapler or nail gun is compatible.
When it comes time to paint the shed, ditch the paint roller for a spray gun powered by your air compressor. A good spray paint gun provides an even flow of paint, and is faster and more efficient than a roller or paintbrush, not to mention easier on the arms. Consider the time it takes to paint a few hundred meters of fence posts, and it’s easy to see how an air compressor with a paint gun endpoint can make your life easier.
Mount an air compressor to the back of a ute, and with the right attachments you now have a profession spraying device to reaching even the highest of apple trees. When it’s time to spray your orchard, an air compressor is a handy solution to keep your fruit trees pest and bug free.
Compressed air powers pneumatic conveying systems used to transport grains, powders and granules to silos for storage. The use of a pressure vacuum in an enclosed pipeline is a safe way to move dry goods without risk of contamination or damage.
Submersible water pumps can run on compressed air, offering an alternative to electrically powered pumps that could fail during storms. Air compressors can run off a portable generator, making them a useful backup option in a pinch. Water pumps can be used to transport water from dam to homestead or keep crops hydrated. The potential is really up to you.
This one’s a bit out of left field, but there’s been some pioneering work done on using air compressors to store excess energy generated by wind turbines. If you’re planning on converting to wind farming, a compressed air system could provide a more even power distribution during periods of flat wind. You can read more about these systems here.
Whether it's providing essential services to your agricultural practices, or making easy jobs that little bit easier, the air compressor is among the essential tools for any self sustaining farm.