As part of our continuing commitment to zero fossil fuel food production and farming we have recently developed two vital pieces of electrified hardware for our orchards.
Foilar sprayers are used to help supplement the nutritional needs of our cherry trees, and so are a key part of our operational equipment. Partnering with TRS Wholesale Ltd in Blenheim, we have created the first fully-electric foliar sprayer - converting an existing sprayer that runs off tractor power to one that can be directly powered from a 230 volt power source. This is a fundamental change from the way diesel tractors (and therefore fossil fuels) currently power sprayers.
One of the many challenges faced when converting this sprayer to being electric, is the considerable power that it draws. This is an ongoing challenge but one we’re happy to rise to in our journey to finding zero fossil fuel solutions. To enable the mass adoption of electric tractors, we have to move beyond existing tractor attachments, and design and create new energy-efficient options that maximise the runtime of an e-tractor's battery.
As always, these types of innovations and developments come at a cost, and we're truely appreciative of a Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) grant that we have received from the Ministry for Primary Industries, Manatū Ahu Matua. MPI has provided a grant to cover 40% of the cost of developing our sprayer and in return we will share our trials, data and learnings with the rest of the industry. With the aim of ensuring there are far less barriers and mental blockers to e-tractor adoption in the future.
The second, and equally vital part of the sprayer unit is a machine to pull and power it. For this piece of equipment, we have partnered with the team at Loxley Innovation who will provide us with the first prototype of their electric tractor called Blue.E2. This will allow us to test the sprayer and electric tractor while we wait for the more powerful Monarch to arrive in January 2023.
A converted Iseki TU318 tractor, lots of hard work and problem-solving has gone into converting a diesel tractor to a fully electric machine. With an onboard inverter-charger, the tractor will be capable of towing and powering our new 2 tonne electric sprayer unit for an estimated 3-4 hours. We expect to be able to recharge the tractor from empty in about 6 hours.
Arrival & Trials
Both the Loxley tractor and our new sprayer will arrive in the coming weeks, with assembly, testing and calibration to be completed before the growing season kicks off. As always, we plan to share our full results and learnings as we learn more about the machines.
A special thanks must go to Emma from MPI, Jake from Monarch Tractor, Chris Clifford, Michael Dudley and his team from TRS Wholesale Ltd, Murray Miller from Claas, and Duncan from Loxley Innovation for making this project possible. It requires a collection of great minds to change the world.