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Photo of John Deere electric tractor ploughing field

The Transition Towards Electric & Hybrid Farm Machinery

The transition from fuel to electricity is well underway. Electric and hybrid cars are all over our roads now, but the move is taking longer to hit the farming industry.

This could be because although electric cars can now tackle most daily road challenges, agricultural machinery needs to tow more, push more, perform better, and last longer. You can’t take a break in a motorway service station to recharge and drink a coffee if you’re ploughing a field!

But the industry has come a long way…

John Deere introduced its first all-electric tractor at the end of 2016. The tractor relied on 130 kWh of battery power, considerably more than Tela’s offering at the time.

Since then, electric machinery has become a growing trend as the industry strives to meet growing the demand from an increasing population. According to Goldman Sachs, the food supply industry needs to grow by 70% over the next 30 years.

Electric Farm Machinery

Transitioning across to electric machinery has many benefits for farmers and growers.

Photo of electric farm machine in field

As the UK government introduces new, stricter regulations for farmers, reducing the use of diesel and petrol combustion powered machines is a relatively easy way to meet new eco rules.

A new bill, approved by the UK parliament, will give farmers financial incentives to boost air quality, protect wildlife, and promote environmental practices.

Additionally, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has a target of net-emissions by 2040. Changes will have to be made.

Electric Equipment Can Be More Productive

But it isn’t just environmental concerns which make electric machines a good choice; they can seriously help your finances. As farmers are placed under more stress to meet the demands of a growing population, the main concern has to be efficiency, production quotas, and accuracy.

The newer electric technology is understandably more accurate, reliable, and generally more customisable. From irrigation solutions and robotic milking machines to tractors, harvesters, conveyers and weighing machines – electric machines have the edge when it comes to maximising yields.

Electric equipment can offer more precise measurements, as well as, help reduce the workload. After programming, many machines are autonomous and can function with minimal oversight from their human bosses.

As well as working without supervision, autonomous electric machinery requires fewer workers to operate it. As the shortage of skilled workers stretches on, electronic machines are the answer for many.

Reduced Maintenance, With Increased Efficiency

The machines themselves may appear more complicated than traditional farming machinery, for many heritage farmers, this is a step away from the traditions of generations past. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Electric machines, as well as the environmental and practical benefits, generally require less maintenance.

The days of rolling up your sleeves to repair a tractor are long gone. Modern electric machines can be served by specialists in a matter of hours and are less likely to need repairing on a regular basis.

Of course, the downside here is that the complicated electrics require expert attention, so many farmers will be unable to service their own machines. On the flip side, most new machines come with service guarantees which offer repairs for several years.

Lower Farm Running Costs

After factoring in reduced maintenance costs, improved accuracy and environmental benefits, a 2018 investigation found that electrical and hybrid engines have lower running costs.

Diesel and fuel machines literally burn through money every time they are used.

image of wind farm on agricultural land

Electric machines rely on storing and converting electric source energy. These machines are doubly efficient if you have electric sources such as wind turbines, solar panels, or biomass converters. If used regularly, these new machines pay for themselves quicker than you might expect.

Transitioning To Electric With Hybrid Models

While the many positives of electric machines make it clear they will be the future of farming, it is understandable that some agricultural operators and farmers are wary of buying into the future just yet.

For many, the future is a long way off. As such, hybrid vehicles offer the best of both worlds.

Photo of electric charging point on tractor

One of the key benefits of using hybrid farm machines is that they are often self-charging. This negates the need for significant changes to the power points and electrical outlets on farms. The national grid already offer rural vehicle-to-grid access points as well as options for battery and energy storage.

A case study in Sweden found that the ability to provide power and storage for electric vehicles was not possible with current networks. In the busy month of July, the current capabilities could only charge 69% of electric vehicle needs.

For this reason, the move towards electric via hybrid models is favoured by many.

As well as allowing farmers to adjust to new operating systems, hybrid machinery allows the rest of the country to catch up with the demands of fully electric machinery. The move towards electric machinery is arguably unstoppable but a long way from being complete.

Buying electric or hybrid machines is a choice to invest in the future. Luckily, that investment isn’t as costly as you think.

Financing Electric Farm Machinery – The Transition

Currently, one-eighth of farming subsidies are reserved for environmentally-friendly activities. As we move out of the EU and set our own regulations, this is set to increase.

Combine this with financial loans from agriculture finance experts such as Evangate FS – you will soon discover that buying electric machinery has never looked more financially attractive.

The financial benefit of electric machines means that securing loans to buy them is not difficult. Most finance companies understand that the efficiency and accuracy provided by electric machines are highly beneficial over its lifecycle, so are more than willing to loan amounts they may not offer for similar outdated diesel models.

Our UK agricultural finance specialists will be able to offer you a flexible repayment schedule depending on your type of farming.

An electric seeding machine will not reap any benefits until the crop it seeded is harvested many months later. A bad harvest can seriously impact a repayment schedule, and so traditional lending options from banks may leave you in a difficult situation.

Talking to agricultural experts about special loans, flexible repayment, refinancing existing assets, and leasing options mean you can invest in the future without worrying about the present.

If you would like a free no obligation quote for arranging finance to purchase electric or hybrid farm machinery, speak to us today.


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