This spring, I had the pleasure of joining Forth’s E-Tractor Program partners, Robert Wallace of Wy’East RC&D and Bridget Callahan of Sustainable Northwest, on a trip to deliver Oregon’s first electric tractor to Rusted Gate Farm in Central Point, OR. The tractor is a Solectrac eUtility, a 40HP equivalent battery-electric tractor, manufactured in Santa Rosa, CA.
Rusted Gate Farm is a non-profit farm that experiments with traditional, alternative, and innovative farm practices. Their mission is to identify a mix of income-producing activities that will increase average farm income and ensure long-term financial security for small farms in Jackson County. We feel they are the perfect first location to test this new technology.
Unloading the electric tractor from the trailer sparked immediate excitement amongst program partners and farmers alike. The tractor came with some basic instructions covering how to turn it on, shifting into gear, and easing into motion as the torque can catch you off guard.
Three farmers from Rusted Gate took turns taking the tractor for a spin with shouts of, “The wheels are louder than the tractor,” “No diesel fumes!“ and “This is ludicrous mode!” before coming back with huge grins.
We tested out the three-point hitch and power take-off by mounting the mower, which is commonly used with their diesel tractor. We set up two battery-charging locations for the tractor using existing welding outlets.
Rusted Gate plans to test the tractor in a variety of use-cases. They will conduct side-by-side comparisons with their diesel tractor and also share the tractor with neighboring farmers. The team will collect usage data and hopes to answer questions about how electric tractors can help transform electric transportation in rural areas.
Forth intends to have field days for the public and other farmers in the area to gather and learn more about this technology in the summer and fall of this year.