Hallbar Consulting. Global Expertise Local Biomass Solutions.

Electric Plug-In Tractors

North America’s food system is the result of the “green revolution”; increased crop yields resulting in part from the use of fossil-fuels in the form of diesel powered machinery. This reliance on fossil-fuels means our food system is heavily dependent on non-renewable resources that are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. This dependence poses a threat to our food sovereignty and future food supply.

Plug-in Electric TractorsIn an attempt to help wean agriculture off its fossil-fuel addiction, researchers at the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (JTI) have been assessing the potential for using electric tractors plugged into the grid. With BC’s abundant supply of clean, renewable electricity form hydro-electric dams built throughout the Province, the electrification of agriculture will enable a more sustainable food system in BC by shielding our farmers from increasingly scarce and expensive fossil fuels.

To date, JTI have assessed the feasibility of using mains-operated, electrically powered tractors to carry out even heavy fieldwork, such as ploughing and harrowing. For certain operations, the feasibility study concludes that the cost of using a mains-operated electric tractor can be lower than using conventional diesel machines; and this is based on today’s cost of fossil-fuels.
Plug-in Tractors
Electrically-powered tractors could be one possible solution to help overcome agriculture’s fossil-fuel dependence.

The idea is that using a constant cabled power supply, the tractor carries a cable reel and plugs in to fixed connection points around the field. Technology and a special driving pattern are then used to avoid damaging the cable when the tractor carries out the field work. While the cable and connection points are unavoidable, the avoidance of expensive, heavy batteries greatly reduces both the cost and weight of the tractor.

Next steps are to develop the cable tractor concept into a prototype and test out the conclusions of the feasibility study. Watch this space…

For more information about electrification of farm machinery, or if you have any questions regarding optimization and efficiencies in agriculture, please contact us.

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