John Deere Engineers Really Aiming To Build Battery-Powered Harvesters?

It’s hard to believe that an internationally renowned company like John Deere would be led down such a dubious technical route: electric powered heavy agricultural equipment.

Consider that a battery for a typical electric car weights half a ton. Imagine it would need to weigh for a machine that weighs over 25 tons.

With diesel, harvesters can run day and night. Image: John Deere Company

Perhaps it’s just lip service to placate idiot politicians and activist groups. I wonder if Caterpillar is thinking along the same lines: powering its massive excavators with batteries?

Here’s a post I found at Facebook from Will F. Leeman and that I’m having a hard time to believe it’s true:

For those of you that think electric vehicles are the answer- this is a true story from a farmer in the Midwest- and I’m reposting it-
A close friend farms over 10,000 acres of corn in the midwest. The property is spread out over 3 counties. His operation is a “partnership farm” with John Deere. They use the larger farm operations as demonstration projects for the promotion and development of new equipment. He recently received a phone call from his John Deere representative, and they want the farm to go to electric tractors and combines in 2023. He currently has 5 diesel combines that cost $900,000 each that are traded in every 3 years. Also, over 10 really BIG tractors.
JD wants him to go all-electric soon.
He said: “Ok, I have some questions. How do I charge these combines when they are 3 counties away from the shop in the middle of a cornfield, in the middle of nowhere?”
“How do I run them 24 hours a day for 10 or 12 days straight when the harvest is ready, and the weather is coming in?”
“How do I get a 50,000+ lb. combine that takes up the width of an entire road back to the shop 20 miles away when the battery goes dead?”
There was dead silence on the other end of the phone.
When the corn is ready to harvest, it has to have the proper sugar and moisture content. If it is too wet, it has to be put in giant dryers that burn natural or propane gas, and lots of it. Harvest time is critical because if it degrades in sugar content or quality, it can drop the value of his crop by half a million dollars or more.
It is analyzed at the time of sale.
It is standard procedure to run these machines 10 to 12 days straight, 24 hours a day at peak harvest time.
When they need fuel, a tanker truck delivers it, and the machines keep going. John Deere’s only answer is “we’re working on it.”
They are being pushed by the lefty Dems in the government to force these electric machines on the farmer.
These people are out of control.
They are messing with the production of food crops that feed people and livestock… all in the name of their “green dream.”
Look for the cost of your box of cornflakes to triple in the next 24 months…”

As mentioned above, a harvester weighs some 50,000 lbs, which means the battery would have to weigh in the neighborhood of 25,000 pounds (staying proportional to an e-car battery). Note that an e-car’s energy is used mostly for moving the vehicle on a hard even surface. For a harvester, energy is not only needed for moving it on high rolling resistance surfaces, but also for driving all the mechanical equipment onboard needed for cutting, conveying and chopping up the crop. Consequently an even bigger and heavier battery would be needed.

One problem today with modern tractors and harvesters is weight. Farmers are concerned about excessive weight because they don’t want their equipment excessively compacting the soil. Adding 15 tons or more of weight just for batteries for being able to power the machinery for just a couple of hours would be horribly inefficient.

Of course batteries for small garden equipment might make some sense, but for heavy machinery that needs to operate non-stop for hours and hours seems technically very impractical.

But with today’s green energy cult movement, where common sense has been thrown overboard to make room for ideology, it should not surprise us if the story really is true.

25 responses to “John Deere Engineers Really Aiming To Build Battery-Powered Harvesters?”

  1. John Deere Engineers Really Aiming to Build Battery-Powered Harvesters? - Climate-

    […] John Deere Engineers Really Aiming To Build Battery-Powered Harvesters? […]

  2. Michael Lewis

    It sounds silly when stated this way.

    And yet …

    How will we farm when petroleum products are so expensive they can only be used for military purposes?

    How will we farm when petroleum takes more energy to develop and produce than that which can be derived from petroleum products?

    How will we farm when nitrogen fertilizer made from coal, methane and natural gas are too expensive to use?

    This is a finite world. Only humans think that things that cannot go on forever will not stop.

    Yes, we’ve gotten ourselves into an economic and technological pickle by building an agricultural system based on a finite resource soon to become to expensive to use.

    1. John Hultquist

      or see this: peak copper (also in wiki)
      Concern about the copper supply is not new. In 1924 geologist and copper-mining expert Ira Joralemon warned:

      “… the age of electricity and of copper will be short. At the intense rate of production that must come, the copper supply of the world will last hardly a score of years. … Our civilization based on electrical power will dwindle and die.”[4]

      1. Yonason

        …especially if we keep squandering our Cu resources on EV’a, bird shredders, useless-at-night solar panel arrays, etc., etc.

      2. Joby

        John. Aluminum is almost as good as copper for transmitting electricity so even if we run out of copper there are alternatives.

        As to how much copper there is to be found I would remind you that they were books written in the 1970s about how we had already passed “Peak Oil”. The truth is that when the price of a commodity rises, The known reserves of that commodity increase because now there are mineral deposits that used to cost too much mine and process, become profitable to produce.

    2. Geoffrey Williams

      Michael, what really sounds silly is your obvious bias against petroleum and coal. Your scare comments about finite world resources making these products too expensive to use just does not add up. Truth is there are still vast reserves of the above resources remaining throughout the world.

    3. Michael Peinsipp

      That excessive cost is due to GOVERNMENT not supply. Ask Joe Biden…

  3. RoHa

    AA or AAA?

    1. Michael Peinsipp

      Oh definitely 9Volt!!!

      1. John Brown

        At least does not require Diesel back up!

  4. John Kolb

    The platforms they are building may be connected – not battery powered. You can see the beta machines in “swarms” now if you just look. I am not saying they will be a success, but that is the approach.

  5. Addolff
  6. J. R.

    The idea is ludicrous. Like the rest of green economics, reality will smack it down.

  7. drumphish

    100,000,000 barrels of oil consumed every day, 20 million metric tons of coal consumed every day, coal and oil do the work to power civilization.

    One thing about oil and coal, there is a lot of both. If coal and oil go away, there will be a great reset and no one will be able to do one thing about it. Hydro-power with pulleys and cables can run a small factory, you’ll be back to almost the Stone Age by then.

    Where isn’t there coal or oil? You can generate usable energy, so might as well have it available for consumption. Electricity is in high demand, all power plants combined is the world’s largest machine.

    There are coal deposits so deep in earth, they’ll never be mined. Maybe with automation that can move earth with ease, mankind might get down to deep coal deposits one day. You’ll need electricity and fuels to mine coal that deep. Picks and shovels digging out coal with mules hauling wagon loads to the power plant won’t work, just the way it is. Huge machines harvest coal these days, a dragline to move the overburden to reach the coal deposit works 24/7, it never stops. You’ll need electricity to make it go.

    John Deere is drinking too much green kool-aid. Next thing you know, a 25,000 pound battery will self-immolate and there goes your 750,000 dollar combine. It just ain’t gonna work. Build one, see what happens after field trials.

    If you want steel, coal is required. If you want to build a big dam for hydro-power, you’ll need petroleum. Fungible is the word of the day.

    25,000 pounds of Lithium ion battery will deliver probably have 37,500 kwh in the thing. 300 gallons of fuel will weigh approximately 1800 pounds and cost 1500 dollars to fill the tank. When it’s gone, your combine will weigh 1800 pounds less. Might as well have the battery separate from the machine and tow it along, if it starts on fire, you can save the machine.

    Still have to add more electricity to the battery, at 20 cents per kilowatt hour cost, it will be 7500 dollars to charge the battery to full. 300 gallons of fuel to run the engine will be the first choice, not a 25,000 pound battery. A combine using 100 kilowatts per hour will go for 375 hours of run time. Fifteen days, then you’ll need another 7500 dollars worth of electricity so you can go again. If the combine uses 200 kilowatts per hour, and probably will, you’ll have 7.5 days of run time.

    John Deere probably has done the math and their figures will be the closest to what is really there. Green kool-aid is available at the water cooler.

    Besides, electric motors produce ozone and ozone is not good for the body if there is too much. Ozone is also a pollutant.

    Five gallons per hour to power the combine, 60 hours of run time, 2.5 days, then fill the tank again for another 60 hours. You’re at three grand for 120 hours of run time. You will be at 9,000 dollars to get 360 hours of time to power the combine. You will pay another 1500 dollars for the convenience.

    A modern John Deere combine has a 300 gallon fuel tank and a 300 bushel grain tank. At 200 bushel per acre for a corn crop, you need to empty the grain tank every one and a half acres. You have to have 300 horsepower diesel engines in a combine to harvest 10,000 acres of corn. Phenomenal numbers of grain harvests with mechanized farming practices using hydrocarbons is what really happens.

    Before electricity, a steam engine and an engine house were located near the small grain elevator. Belts and drives moved everything. You had to get coal to the farm so the grain elevator could be filled.

    Stationary threshers existed before combines, you hauled the wheat with the stalks and the thresher would do the work right there. It would make more sense to have a electricity from the power plant delivered to the threshing machine. No need for a battery at all.

    One important crop farmers grow is hops, probably the most desired green crop there is.

    We’re in this world to enjoy everything as much as we possibly can. No need for fussing and fighting for a few bugs to eat when you can have the best life possible with hydrocarbons making existence easy for everyone.

    Klouse needs to lighten up and forget about the Great Reset.

    Dutch farmers are teaching Klouse a thing or two about a thing or two.

    Class is always in session at the School of Hard Knocks.

  8. lance

    Typical of management not understanding there base.
    I remember the joke about the wildlife officer explaining to the ranchers about a sterilization program being looked into to manage the large coyote population. Old rancher in the back of the hall puts up his hand and explains “the coyotes aren’t f*ing out sheep, there killing them “

    1. Colby Thom

      More woke BS. It reminds me of just what you said Lance. This woke crowd in Washington DC are leading this country in a very wrong direction and in a direction that MIGHT be a very small part of the direction this country might need to move. This country will never be able to move in this direction at the speed these WOKE idiots want to move this country. Thanks for injecting a bit of humor Lance.

  9. John Hultquist

    @ drump, just above: “Stationary threshers existed before combines, you hauled the wheat with the stalks and the thresher would do the work right there.”

    Back then, several farms (my clan) would share a “stationary thresher” that would be towed to each of the farms. Tractors had a belt-drive takeoff used to power the thresher. The belt, as I recall was about 8 inches wide. The two units sat about 20 feet apart, so the belt would have been 40 feet. It has been a long time, so don’t quote me on this. The web has lots of info and photos.

  10. Diogenese

    A75000 pound machine in a damp field will sink out of sight , in a dry field the compaction problem will be horrendous , you would have to bust up the sundial to plant a crop again .

    1. John Brown

      Run a longer cable maybe?

  11. jacques lemiere

    quite simple???”do we rally need farm or food” their solution…

    similar to let s have wind mill to produce electricity..and to answer criticisms.. then do you really need electricity?

  12. We Prefer Greenland Icy, Not Green – Newsfeed Hasslefree Allsort

    […] John Deere Engineers Really Aiming To Build Battery-Powered Harvesters? […]

  13. Cris

    Can wait for Clarkson’s Farm 2030 when he’ll spend the entire season raining crap on electric farm equipment.

  14. Richard Greene

    I believe $900,000 and 50,000lbs (unloaded) would be a high-end model
    I thought the average cost was in the $400,000 to $600,000 range.

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