Electric tractors - your views revealed

Fendt e100 Vario_60871

First shown in public at Agritechnica 2017, the Fendt e100 battery electric tractor is compatible with existing farm implements

Many thanks to those NFU members (plus a few other farmers and growers) who responded to our online market research survey earlier this year on future demand for electric tractors and their unique selling points (ownership cost, durability, low emissions, safety, etc).

The information gathered will inform the work of a ‘Task and Finish’ expert group, including several agricultural machinery manufacturers, which has been looking into the potential uptake of electric tractors and other farm vehicles, including potential constraints such as the difficulties of charging large battery electric vehicles on weak rural electricity networks, and whether “vehicle-to-grid“ (V2G) technology offers a possible solution.

The survey received a good representative spread of 131 respondents across all farm sizes, regions and sectors.  Key findings include the following points:

  • 5% of respondents already have an electric car or van on farm
  • two-thirds are aware that battery electric tractors and machinery is likely to become available in the next 5-10 years
  • the expected lower running costs and enhanced safety of electric farm machinery are important attributes, recognised as advantages
  • significant farmer concerns identified by the survey include higher purchase cost, limited range and recharging downtime

max power supply_65123

maximum electricity load in kW available on farm - only 27% can accommodate 100-kilowatt or above, i.e. rapid charging (results from 104 of 131 respondents)

This information will be reported back to the Agricultural Productivity Working Group and the Food and Drink Sector Council under the government's Industrial Strategy.

Two years ago, the NFU published a paper suggesting that electric and hybrid tractors may become widely available in the 2020s.

  • Posted by: Jeremy ChamberlaynePosted on: 07/06/2019 18:34:35

    Comment: We use electric cars and an electric fork lift. It seems to me that it would be difficult to incorporate enough range for electric field tractors to be viable.
    Machines such as telescopic handlers would be more realistic. Often, they are used mainly in the yard, for short periods, with low power demands. Instant starting in cold weather would be a benefit, as would quietness.
    Many of us have solar panels, which would often offer free fuel.
    I would consider an electric handler, before an electric tractor.
  • Posted by: John NicholsonPosted on: 08/11/2019 14:13:10

    Comment: Your right Mr Chamberlayne, in that even with the lastest expensive tesler batteries, the range would be impossible. Since 2016 I've been working on designs for large hp tractors involving hybrid. This largely because the agriculture sector could not afford the expenses in high tech batteries, even if they could be made to work, therefore would be limited to hybrid. It would seem quite possible that there would be large running cost savings and since the earlier designs in 2017, have moved on to more complex items within tractors that hybrid lends itself to, without massive expense. A 2002 design excercise in how to get 750 bhp to the ground using wheels, without going over 3.5m spun off into - active ride suspension , multiple steering modes, etc., and hybrid suited this better than plain diesel.

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