The John Deere electric tractor is here and it is spectacular. When John Deere first announced that it was building an electric tractor prototype back in 2016, critics were skeptical. Could the company provide perspective buyers with enough power to complete the various tasks performed by farm machinery? Would consumers be willing to ditch their gas-guzzling tractors for greener models? Seeing as the first generation of John Deere electric tractors have not been made available for sale as of the date of this writing, we may not have an answer to the latter question for a few years. The answer to the former question however, is a resounding yes!

Growing up on a farm wasn’t easy. Even as children we were expected to work hard and contribute. That being said, there were some amazing advantages to growing up as a country boy. I’ll always remember my first fiddle and the sun coming up with cakes on the griddle. Okay, I confess: I didn’t grow up on a farm. Most of what I know about country living comes from Mother Earth News magazine and John Denver songs. That being said, I do have a fantastic model John Deere tractor that I absolutely love. It belonged to my grandfather who gave it to my father. I was overjoyed to be able to give it to my son a few years back. I think for this reason, I will always have a soft spot for John Deere and their iconic green tractors.

A Brief History Lesson

The John Deere company was originally incorporated under the name Deere & Company in 1868. The company’s namesake was the inventor of the first steel plow that could till the soils of the American Prairie without clogging. Mr. Deere had invented this technology back in 1836. After changing and evolving several times, the company that we know today as the John Deere–Delaware Company was incorporated in 1958. Five generations of the Deere family have lead the company since its inception to the present day.

The 1960s and 70s or a particularly notable time of growth for the John Deere company. Technological advances forced Farmers to expand their operations at an astronomical rate in order to maintain profitability. John Deere was able to capitalize on this trend by focusing the bulk of its business on manufacturing large, heavy-duty farm equipment. While the company continued to manufacture small and medium-sized farming implements, enormous tractors, balers, and combine harvesters became the company’s bread and butter. This strategy proved to be a colossal success.

That Brings Us to Today

The Details

John Deere’s electric tracker (named GridCON) is A bit different from the passenger vehicles that we typically cover here at enrg.io in that it is designed to remain plugged in to an external power source while in use. As an aside, I searched and searched but could not come up with an explanation for why the tractor is named GridCON. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what this name actually means. This tractor has no cab and no batteries underneath the hood of the vehicle.

Utilizing a cable connection from the border of the field to the machine, a 100kW electric mower powers the continuously variable transmission. There is also an additional outlet for various farm implements that is powered by a 200kW electric motor. A drum attached to the tractor carries about 3000 feet of cable. This number however can be adjusted based on field size if necessary.

Staying Connected

The GridCON also utilizes an intelligent guidance system to prevent it from running over the cable. A robotic arm is used to feed the cable back and forth to ensure that the cable does not get tangled. This design allows for an autonomous operating speed up around 12 miles per hour. The vehicle can also be guided via remote control if there is an issue with the autonomous driving module.

The tractor is a big boy, weighing in at almost 19,000 pounds. This is a similar weight to more conventional tractors in its class, but the GridCON produces almost twice as much power! Researchers believe that they will be able to reduce this number by over 2000 pounds in future models. The best news of all when it comes to the John Deere electric tractor is that it reduces operating costs by a whopping 50% when compared to gas-guzzling equivalents. Now that’s impressive!

Check out this video produced by John Deere for an overview of the project:

The Bottom Line

As we here at enrg.io like to say: “The future is here and it is all-electric.” While the John Deere electric tractor may seem a bit strange in that the company has opted to go with what is a permanently “plugged-in” design, it certainly works for the purposes of farming. We would like to congratulate John Deere on their GridCON project, and salute their efforts in moving the agriculture industry towards a greener future. Who knows, perhaps one day all passenger vehicles and all farming machines will be powered solely by electricity. Now that’s a future I would like to see!

What do our readers think about the John Deere electric tractor? Are you put off by the cable system? Are any of our readers in the agriculture industry and care chime in on the subject? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

Source | Image: John Deere via Producer.com

Source | Video: Tractorlab.com via YouTube