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Ont. grower trades diesel tractor for electric

Ont. grower trades diesel tractor for electric

Tony Neale purchased his Solectrac tractor from California

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An Uxbridge, Ont. producer is pleased with his decision to purchase an electric tractor.

Tony Neale, owner of Wheelbarrow Farm, a 10-acre fruit, vegetable and flower operation, has used one of Solectrac’s 10 eUtility tractor prototypes since August.

Once commercially available, the electric tractors will retail for about C$54,000 (US$40,000). They have power equivalent to that of a 40 hp diesel tractor, can run for up to eight hours on a single charge and can pull implements with up to 540 PTO.

Under the hood, a small computer manages the battery. The tractor has no radiator, oil or other components found on a traditional diesel tractor.

Neale’s interest in technology led him to research electric tractors.

“I follow technological trends and was watching a short video about how there will be all sorts of these wondrous technologies coming,” he told Farms.com. “That afternoon, I was back on my diesel tractor thinking if someone is talking about all these radical technologies, certainly there has to be an electric tractor out there.”

Neale found Solectrac, a California-based company specializing in electric tractors.

The organization produces the eUtility which Neale owns, and the eFarmer, which can run for up to six hours on one charge.

The farmer contacted Steve Heckeroth, Solectrac’s CEO, who invited Neale to California to help with the assembly of his tractor.

“This tractor is proof that electric tractors can be commercially produced and used by different farmers,” Neale said. “We could see a day where we don’t need traditional fossil fuels.”

With the community’s help, Neale has also invested in solar panels.

Community contributions helped him install 10 kW of solar panels on his farm. The panels can charge his tractor in about five hours. When the panels aren’t charging the tractor, they heat his home, run other equipment and provide him with an extra revenue source.

Using the electric tractor for almost six months has proven to be a financial benefit, he said.

“In Ontario with the price of electricity and the price of gas, I’m saving about 50 per cent,” he said. 




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