No More Roar From Your Tractor
Jan 16, 2018
I'm seeing more and more information within the farm machinery industry that indicates electric tractors are closer than we think. Several manufacturers have prototype tractors that operate off batteries. A few have been released in Europe for limited use. Spokesmen for various ag equipment manufacturers suggest that electric tractors with serious horsepower could be in North American fields within five years.
The technology is complicated and impressive, but I have questions for which nobody seems to have answers. Such as:
-I know what happens if you accidentally cross wires on a 12-volt system. What are the consequences of crossing wires on a system that carries more than 400 volts of 3-phase power?
-Without exhaust roar, how will operators be able to tell when the tractor is really getting down to business?
-Will they have to install speakers and broadcast some form of engine noise, like some electric cars do, so pedestrians, livestock and the neighbor's dog (that like to sleep in the road) will know to move out of the way?
-If there's no hydraulic oil or diesel fuel to spill or wipe on your clothes, how will your wife be able to tell if you've been working?
-If some people fear living near high-voltage power lines, how will they feel about riding all day atop electric motors producing hundreds of kilowatts?
-Would it be wise for me to invest in copper futures in the near future, considering the amount of wiring it will take to connect an electric tractor to a 24-row planter with row shutoffs, variable pressure downforce, liquid fertilizer and all the other electrically powered system that are increasingly popular on planters?
Stay tuned--if you thought farming changed a lot in the past 10 or 20 years, you ain't seen nothing yet.