A new online calculator can show farmers where they might find energy savings as they dry their grain in drying systems.

The Purdue Energy Estimator projects energy costs for in-bin and high-capacity grain dryers. The online resource was developed by researchers in Purdue's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

It is free for public use and can be found on the Purdue Renewable Energy Web site at http://www.extension.purdue.edu/renewable-energy and then clicking on "On-Farm Efficiency."

While farmers usually know what they are spending to dry grain, they don't always understand how dryer components and operating conditions contribute to the energy bill, said Klein Ileleji, one of the Purdue agricultural engineers who developed the calculator.

"This tool enables them to do that, or at least gives them an avenue to look at grain drying systems more closely," Ileleji said. "With this estimator, they can run scenarios that will inform them ahead of time how much energy they are consuming on the farm and the factors that can help them reduce those costs."

Users begin by selecting either an in-bin or high-capacity dryer model from a menu of options. In-bin dryer users can calculate energy consumption and cost for corn, wheat and soybeans, using propane, natural gas or an electric heater. Users can choose among 82 locations within the Corn Belt and the date they plan to dry grain. About 30 years of weather data was entered into the estimator to provide more accurate drying cost results.

The in-bin estimator also asks users to enter initial and target grain moisture content, starting grain temperature, bin diameter and height, grain price in dollars per bushel, fan airflow rate and electric cost per kilowatt hour.