Earlier this month, PNW Ag attended the Pre-Harvest Cherry Tour, hosted in Oregon. Here we spoke with Faith Yorba of Sustainable Northwest about their electric ag equipment and programs.

Faith Yorba: Today at the pre-harvest cherry tour, the E-Farms team brought a variety of electric farming equipment to show farmers. We have a really good group of over 100 people here today, so we thought it was a great opportunity to showcase some of our electric equipment. Today we have an electric pickup truck, electric tractor, and an electric UTV, as well as a variety of additional electric equipment that Papé and some of our other partners brought together.

PNW Ag: Who are the four partners in this project that you have going?

Faith Yorba: E-Farms is a joint project between four Oregon-based nonprofits, and those include Wy'East Resource Conservation and Development, Forth, Sustainable Northwest, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation. I'm with Sustainable Northwest, and we have been a partner since the beginning of this program. This program started in 2020. That's kind of when the idea of the E-Farms program began. It really began by bringing the first electric tractor to the state of Oregon in 2021.

The idea was to increase awareness of electric farming equipment and showcase how this equipment compares to traditional combustion diesel units and work towards market transformation for these products to make them more affordable. We're looking at policy levers to create incentives for farmers and others to make this equipment more affordable for them.

What our program does right now is give anyone who's interested in using this equipment the chance to use it for free on the farm for a set period of time. The only cost to them is that they work with us to provide feedback after they use the equipment. A goal of ours is to figure out where this equipment works best and where it doesn't. It's new technology.  I like to think of it as when electric vehicles first came onto the market, you know, they weren't perfect. There was a lot of trial and error before the models that we now have today. This technology is really similar. 

Also especially for electric tractors, the horsepower is not as high as certain farms need. Certain tractors or certain farms need a tractor with a horsepower of 80 or 120. And these tractors only go up to 45 horsepower right now. So we're trying to figure out where this technology works and where it doesn't, the best use cases. And then we're working to find solutions to increase adoption and remove barriers for farmers to use this equipment. 

PNW Ag: Where can somebody reach out and find more information?

Faith Yorba: Right now, the best way to find more information is by visiting one of our websites. We are currently working on an E-Farms website. It should be up and running in the next month. But as of now, the best way to find more information is to visit one of our websites, sustainablenorthwest.orgWy'East Resource Conservation and DevelopmentForth, and Bonneville Environmental Foundation. We all have individual pages on our website where you can find the interest form.

The first step a farmer would take if they were interested in demonstrating this equipment on their farm would be to fill out our interest form. After that, we contact farmers and deliver the equipment to their farm. So this summer, we're sending equipment out to Northeast Oregon. Right now, we have a tractor and a UTV that are moving around to different farms in Union County. And then after that, that same equipment is going to move out to Wallowa County and be tested on five or six farms out in Wallowa as well.

Our equipment is housed in the Dalles area, because a lot of our team resides here, but we move the equipment all around the state. We also have a tractor making its way down to Southern Oregon, Medford area this summer. So it's statewide, and we're hoping to expand regionally and into Washington soon as well.

Pre-Harvest Cherry Tour 2024

Photographs from the 2024 pre-harvest cherry tour held near The Dalles, Oregon.

Gallery Credit: Pacific Northwest Ag Network

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