The use of electric vehicles has risen significantly over the past decade. Advances in technology and a growing awareness of climate change has led many people to embrace electric-powered transport. According to the Global EV Outlook, there are now well over 5 million electric passenger vehicles in use around the world. However, electric vehicles aren’t only becoming increasingly popular on roads, in driveways and at taxi ranks.
Numerous industries have utilised the growing power of electric vehicles. The reduced running costs, increased flexibility and environmental benefits associated with electric vehicles have led many sectors to switch from petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.
The agriculture industry, in particular, is being transformed by the use of electric vehicles. As electric farm vehicles become more widely available, many farmers are exploring the benefits they can offer on the land.
How are landowners using electric farm vehicles?
Farmland requires extensive machinery and equipment to keep it properly maintained and functional. Even a relatively small farm can cover significant acreage so, first and foremost, farmers require vehicles to travel across the land efficiently.
Electric utility vehicles are increasingly popular with landowners of all types. People with large estates or farmland routinely use quad bikes or buggies to get around, but these have notable drawbacks. In contrast, electric utes produce less noise, are cheaper to run and are generally considered to pose fewer safety risks.
As well as being an attractive option for private estate owners, electric utility vehicles are becoming a more common sight on farms and pastures across the country. With the potential to reduce operational costs, farmers can substantially lower their outgoings and reduce their reliance on petrol and diesel.
Furthermore, the varying designs of electric utes and the introduction of electric utility trucks means they’re more functional than ever before. Farmers can utilise these extra functions to transport key materials across the land, without the need to use excess power.
Although electric farm vehicles are being used to facilitate travel across a variety of terrains, this isn’t the only way that electric-powered vehicles are being used on farmland. In fact, the electric revolution is impacting every aspect of agricultural machinery and equipment.
Can heavy-duty agricultural machinery be powered by electricity?
Many farmers are still using fuel-powered vehicles and machinery, but an increasing number are considering switching to electrical-powered alternatives when they become more widely available. Although passenger vehicles and utility vehicles can easily access sufficient power from electric batteries, people tend to assume that the powered needed to operate larger vehicles cannot be accessed from a battery.
However, early electric battery prototypes were deemed inappropriate for passenger cars because of how heavy they were. Of course, this isn’t a drawback when it comes to agricultural vehicles, like tractors and harvesters. Indeed, it was this aspect of electric vehicles that motivated Stephen Heckeroath to investigate the potential of battery-powered electric trailers. Working with electric vehicles since the 1990s, it wasn’t until 2017 that the Californian-based designer brought his model to the market. The extra weight of the battery isn’t just acceptable on larger vehicles, Heckeroath maintains it’s actually beneficial. By using the weight of a battery to gain better stability and traction, electric agricultural vehicles could even offer better performance and functionality than their traditional fuel-powered counterparts.
With major manufacturers, such as John Deer, AgCo and Motivo Engineering, already developing their own electric tractors, it seems the evolution of electric farm vehicles and machinery is already upon us.
There is, however, one potential challenge which will need to be addressed before they become a common feature on Australian farms. The vast majority of farms are situated in rural areas, many of which have relatively weak electricity networks. If farmers did choose to switch to battery-powered machinery, it’s questionable whether the existing infrastructure could provide the increased power required.
While this is a critical obstacle, it’s not one which is impossible to overcome. Infrastructure upgrades and the potential for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology could provide viable power supplies to keep electric farm vehicles up and running.
Although a significant number of farmers and industry experts have niggling doubts about the downtime caused by charging and the range of vehicles, technological advancements are likely to allay these fears in upcoming years. Fast charging is already commonplace amidst electric passenger vehicle usage and it’s highly likely similar technology will be utilised when it comes to electric farm equipment.
Will electric farm vehicles increase sustainability?
Sustainability is a key issue for every industry, and it’s particularly relevant to the agriculture sector. As business owners face increasing pressure to reduce their carbon emissions, farmers are being pressured to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. In addition to this, consumers are showing greater awareness of sustainability when it comes to buying behaviour.
With many people choosing products which are ‘net zero’ in terms of carbon emissions, the demand for more sustainably sourced food is clear. As countries strive to hit looming emissions targets, farmers all over the world will face increasing pressure to reduce their own carbon footprint and introduce more sustainable practices.
Fortunately, the introduction of electric farm vehicles can assist in this process. Electric-powered vehicles produce zero tank-to-wheel emissions, which means they are far more environmentally friendly than diesel or petrol-powered engines. By switching to battery-operated vehicles, farmers can substantially reduce their carbon emissions without any negative side-effects.
However, the benefits in relation to sustainability don’t stop there. Homeowners and business owners can already choose to use green electricity, depending on which supplier they are reliant on. While some suppliers only offer a percentage of green electricity, others are already able to deliver 100% green electricity to consumers and businesses that choose to use it.
As the Cleaner Energy Council reports, farms across Australia are already finding innovative ways to switch to renewable energy sources. With the potential to enable farms to operate entirely on renewable energy, vehicles powered via green electricity could be a gamechanger for the industry.
What are the benefits of electric-powered vehicles on farms?
Electric vehicles offer a range of noticeable benefits, many of which are enhanced when their commercial use is assessed. When used on farms and agriculture land, for example, electric vehicles can offer the following benefits:
Reduced running costs
Without the need to buy petrol or diesel, farmers can reduce their outgoings and use fewer resources. The cost of powering an electric vehicle is substantially less than refuelling traditional engines, which means lower operational costs and higher profits.
Zero tank-to-wheel emissions mean no CO2 production. As well as enabling farmers to achieve emissions targets, this is a benefit which could appeal to organic farmers and smallholders too. If you want to promote natural, sustainable and green food production, for example, a farm which produces net zero carbon emissions is the ultimate way of achieving your goals.
To date, analysis has shown that electric farm equipment could provide a safer alternative to diesel-powered engines. Replacing hydraulic and power take-off (PTO) systems with electric interfaces could reduce the risk of accidents, for example, and make the industry safer for everyone concerned.
Is the future of farming battery-powered?
Although the commercial use of electric tractors and battery-powered harvesters may be some way off, a significant number of farmers are already making the most of electric vehicles. With electric utility vehicles a common sight on farms, estates and smallholders, it’s clear that a substantial number of people are already benefitting from the introduction of electric-powered vehicles.
While there are understandable concerns about the use of electric-powered machinery within the industry, the introduction of battery-operated agricultural equipment is already on the horizon. Providing issues, such as charging downtime and adequate infrastructure, can be successfully addressed, it appears that farmers all over the world will be enjoying the benefits that electric-powered agricultural equipment can offer before too long.
Despite a heavy reliance on diesel and petrol engine power, it should come as no surprise that the agricultural sector is leading the way when it comes to embracing new technology. Farmers are notoriously innovative and success within the industry depends on your willingness to trial new concepts and utilise the most cost-effective measures.
With the potential to increase safety, reduce costs and facilitate greener farming, electric vehicles are already transforming the sector. As electric agricultural equipment and heavy-duty machinery become more widely available, there’s no doubt that farmers, smallholders and landowners will be at the forefront of an electrical revolution.
Contact All Electric Vehicles now
As a leading provider of electric vehicles, we’re committed to providing advice and assistance to everyone who’s interested in exploring the benefits of battery-powered transport. With worldwide shipping available on all of our models, there are no limitations when it comes to switching to battery-powered transport.
If you’re a farmer or smallholder and you want to learn more about using electric-powered vehicles on your land, why not get in touch with our team today? Call All Electric Vehicles on 1300 616 999 and find out how we’re making safe and reliable electric vehicles a reality.