In this study, a data envelopment analysis approach was used to determine the efficiency of farmers, rank the efficient and inefficient ones and to identify the wasteful uses of energy by inefficient farmers with respect to energy use in different operations of soybean production in Golestan province, Iran. Data used in this study were obtained from 94 randomly selected soybean farms using a survey method. From this study, the following results were obtained: From total operational energy consumption in soybean production (22235 MJ ha-1), the greatest part was used in irrigation operation (73%); also, harvesting and tillage were the other main energy consumer operations. The technical, pure technical and scale efficiency scores of farmers were found to be 0.88, 0.91 and 0.96, respectively. Total energy requirement in target condition was calculated as 17937.7 MJ ha-1; accordingly, about 19.3% from the total input energy in present condition could be saved if the farmers follow the input package recommended by the study. Energy saving from irrigation (81.8%) had the highest share from total saving energy (4296.8 MJ ha-1). Also, the contributions of tillage, transportation and harvesting operations were found to be 4.7, 4.2 and 3.9%, respectively.
Key words: Operational energy, irrigation operation, energy efficiency, soybean production.
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