What does an electric-powered future in the agricultural machinery market look like? The reality is this technology has already arrived at the farm gate.
“Electric farm equipment is not new, it’s simply finding its place within the ag industry,” says Scott Welden, an AgDirect territory manager in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. “There are leaders in this space, but some of the applications they’ve adopted just aren’t as well known in the commodity grain market.”
While the more commonly accepted definition of electric farm equipment is often a traditional tractor model, Welden points out this is a very limited scope of the technology’s potential to shape the industry.
"Several types of electric farm equipment currently exist, from automated palletizers, drones, packing and processing equipment to robotic transplant setters,” he says. “A 600-horsepower row crop tractor is not necessarily the first or best platform for electric power.”
“Where electric farm equipment has proven reliable and efficient is within specialized, controlled environments, such as orchards, vineyards and greenhouses, where tasks are repeatable and obstacles are known.”
Reaching widespread adoption
As production agriculture becomes more complex and other global players race towards electrification, there’s no doubt large-scale electric machinery will be viewed as an alternative power source. The road to widespread adoption, however, will surely be met with challenges.
“Anytime you introduce something that’s unwanted, unproven or unfamiliar, it can create a lot of questions and uncertainty,” says Welden. “The electric-powered platform is becoming more widely accepted with the introduction of new products each year. But if you go back 125 years to the engine replacing the horse and mule, electric farm equipment isn’t all that different. The technology will have to be proven out, tested and refined where limitations exist.”
For example, charging infrastructure, run time and matching the pace of manufacturing to grid capacity are all challenges manufacturers will need to address before scaling up to the mass production of electric farm equipment capable of performing focused tasks.
Yet with many prototypes already in the pipeline, it’s only a matter of time before the benefits of an electric-powered future, such as high torque at low speeds, no hydraulics and lower operating costs are realized.
Economics and government policies will also play an important role in driving the pace of development and adoption.
Industry leaders predict electric farm equipment will help agriculture overcome labor challenges.
When it comes to financing the future of electric farm equipment, Welden forecasts AgDirect will continue to serve as a reliable source of capital and credit for existing machinery on the market as well as equipment solutions that haven’t been invented yet.
“AgDirect is proud to be a leader in ag equipment financing and offer options that are not limited by brand or to wheels and a steering wheel,” he says. “With 25 years of experience and expertise, we’ve been financing electric-powered farm machinery from the very beginning, starting with electric-powered center pivot irrigation systems.”
“We’re inspired by the innovative spirit of American farmers and manufacturers and look forward to being a trusted partner in backing the future of agriculture as new products are developed and introduced.”
Stay up to date on the latest trends in farm equipment and machinery financing by locating your nearest AgDirect territory manager or contacting the AgDirect financing team at 888-525-9805.