Oregon farmers sow state’s first electric tractor program - Powering Greatness

Oregon farmers sow state’s first electric tractor program

Farmers already have a keen connection with the land, but new, near-silent electric tractors are bringing them even closer with a quiet, fume-free way to tackle common tasks.

With help from Pacific Power and nonprofit partners, investments in Electrifying Oregon’s Agricultural Economy initiative are delivering new infrastructure and equipment to agricultural communities in a first-of-its-kind e-tractor share program.

Through a partnership with Crook County Fairgrounds, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Wy’East, Sustainable Northwest and Forth, the program allows area farmers to try out Solectrac eUtility electric tractors, giving them first-hand experience with equipment, its operation and its uses. The e-tractors are also outfitted with sensors for capturing operational data, which will be evaluated for cost-efficiency studies and compared to diesel-powered equipment.

“People are really excited about the technology,” says Robert Wallace, executive director of Wy’East. “They’re reaching out, wanting to learn more about how they can test the equipment in their vineyards, orchards and farms.”

Charging the e-tractors is as easy as plugging it into a 220volt welding or a RV outlet. In terms of their output, they are equivalent to a traditional 30- and 40-horsepower tractor—except they operate with no emissions, almost no noise and with less maintenance costs. Small farms will benefit from not needing to have on-site fuel.

For ranch owner Andrew Green, operating the tractor was surprisingly different and inspired several uses for his farm.

“Just the noise factor alone makes it a more enjoyable experience,” he says. “It would run mowing and seeding equipment really well—I can see a lot of uses.”

Wallace is eager to learn more from the data and expand the program. As interest grows, he hopes to increase access to more farmers and to offer a wider selection of electric equipment.

“I can’t wait for the electric pickups to hit the market. I can’t wait for the side-by-sides to hit the market,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity to take our learnings from testing to help scale within the state.”

When they aren’t deployed to farms in the area, one e-tractor will be an ambassador for the new technology at the Crook County Fairgrounds in Prineville, where it will quietly groom the arena grounds for the county fairs, rodeos and roundups.

If you’d like to have an e-tractor on your farm, please contact: BarrettB@forthmobility.org or bcallahan@sustainablenorthwest.org

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