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3/21/2011 - 3/27/2011

Save Tractor Fuel by ‘Shifting up, Throttling Back’

By Mark Hanna, Department of Ag and Biosystems Engineering

Tractor operations represent a significant portion of annual on-farm fuel costs. Rising fuel prices present a challenge for Iowa’s farmers as they prepare for spring field work. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension illustrates the “shift up, throttle back” technique to reduce tractor fuel consumption and related expenses.

Shift Up and Throttle Back to Save Tractor Fuel” (PM 2089M) is available to download from the Extension Online Store,

This year’s rising temperatures are accompanied by rising fuel prices, striving to get the best performance from any tractor can help farmers to reduce costs by conserving fuel. Late-model tractors with “infinitely” or “continuously” variable transmissions are designed to automatically perform at maximum fuel efficiency, but older models need more attention. Spring field work requires varying amounts of drawbar force depending on the size of the tractor, the size of the implement and soil conditions. With a partial drawbar load, the fuel efficiency of a diesel engine is fairly forgiving if the operator will “shift up and throttle back.”

The first step to reduce fuel consumption is remembering to shift up to a higher gear and ease back on the throttle when the tractor is only partially loaded. This technique alone can easily improve fuel savings by 10 percent.

For more tips on tractor maintenance, visit the farm energy website; educators should consider registering for the upcoming Farm Energy webinar scheduled for May 11.

The Farm Energy webinar and publications are part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers’ awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy. The initiative also will help farmers and utility providers to explore alternatives to reduce farm energy demand and to improve overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.


Mark Hanna is an extension agricultural engineer in agricultural and biosystems engineering with responsibilities in field machinery. Hanna can be reached at or (515) 294-0468.

Popular Soybean Disease Publication Now Available as E-Book

Daren Mueller, Department of Plant Pathology

“Soybean Diseases,” the popular Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) publication, is now available as an e-book. The publication, released in print version in December 2010, was written by Daren Mueller, ISU Extension specialist with the Corn and Soybean Initiative, and his ISU Extension colleagues Alison Robertson, plant pathologist; Greg Tylka, nematologist; and Adam Sisson, ISU Corn and Soybean Initiative specialist. Funding was provided by the Iowa soybean checkoff and ISU Extension.

The “Soybean Diseases” e-book features full-screen, high-resolution images of 25 diseases that infect soybeans grown in Iowa. The e-book version of ‘Soybean Diseases’ is an interactive publication, complete with animated turning pages. An image enlargement is generated when the reader clicks on an illustration or photograph in the e-book. This capability makes it easier for those with only web access to use and benefit from the detailed photographs and information in the publication.

The ‘Soybean Diseases’ e-book not only enables readers to identify disease-related problems of soybeans, it also provides management options. It includes videos of how to sample and manage two of Iowa’s most troublesome pathogens, soybean cyst nematode and sudden death syndrome.

Printed copies can be ordered from the ISU Extension Online Store or by calling the store at 515-294-5247, or contacting the Iowa Soybean Association at 800- 383-1423. The e-book version is also available from the extension online store; search for “soybean diseases” to order or access the publication.

Daren Mueller is an extension specialist with responsibilities in the Corn and Soybean Initiative and ISU's IPM program. Mueller can be reached at (515) 460-8000 or by email at

A New IPM Extension Journal Now Available

Erin Hodgson, Department of Entomology

Additional research-based management recommendations are now availalbe through a new, free online venue. The Entomological Society of America started an open access journal focused on extension education in 2010, called the Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM). Open access means anyone can view, save and print the articles; it is not restricted to society members. The Editors-in-Chief of JIPM are Marlin E. Rice of Pioneer Hi-Bred International (formerly with Iowa State University) and Kevin L. Steffey of Dow Agrosciences (formerly with the University of Illinois).

This new journal will offer a wide scope of peer-reviewed articles, including entomology, plant pathology and weeds. The intended readership for JIPM will be professionals who are engaged in any aspect of integrated pest management, especially those individuals working in crop protection, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers of pest management products, educators and pest control operators. The first issue was released in October 2010 and included articles about stalk borers and western bean cutworm.

New articles will be posted online as PDF files as soon as they are approved. Subscribe to an RSS feed that to receive notification when new articles are available. JIPM articles provide indepth, detailed research-based information about our economically important pests.


Erin Hodgson is an assistant professor of entomology with extension and research responsibilities; contact at or phone 515-294-2847.

This article was published originally on 3/28/2011 The information contained within the article may or may not be up to date depending on when you are accessing the information.

Links to this material are strongly encouraged. This article may be republished without further permission if it is published as written and includes credit to the author, Integrated Crop Management News and Iowa State University Extension. Prior permission from the author is required if this article is republished in any other manner.