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Electric Tractors Can Revolutionize Agriculture

In this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Zach Shahan sits down with Alf Poor, Chief Executive Officer of Ideanomics, Inc., Stephen Heckeroth, Founder and CEO of Solectrac, and Keith Byers, Senior Vice President of Operations at Ideanomics, to talk about electric tractors.

In this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Zach Shahan sits down with Alf Poor, Chief Executive Officer of Ideanomics, Inc., Stephen Heckeroth, Founder and CEO of Solectrac, and Keith Byers, Senior Vice President of Operations at Ideanomics, to talk about electric tractors. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.

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Zach and Alf have had a number of fascinating discussions in the past about electric vehicles, charging, mining, and 5G. They launch this episode of CleanTech Talk by introducing Steve in order to talk about his California-based company, Solectrac, which sells electric tractors that are the clean, quiet, zero-emission alternative to diesel tractors.”

Ideanomics recently acquired a 15% stake in the company, a decision Alf made because of his interest in the specialty vehicle market and its path to electrification. Due to the short-haul nature of tractors and the large global market, Alf explains that Solectrac has the perfect combination of expertise, patents, and proven product-market fit. Steve, he added, was the perfect person to be pushing this technology forward.

Steve decided to dedicate his life to finding alternatives to burning fossil fuels at the first Earth Day in 1970. What followed was a 50-year-long career in renewable energy, starting as an architect designing passive solar homes and eventually transitioning into electric vehicles. Steve and Zach dive into the technological innovation that has allowed Soletrac to be successful, and go over some more technical details of the company.

One of the big selling points of electric tractors, Steve explains, is that they do not need the immense amount of infrastructure required for solar energy and electric cars. Furthermore, he points out that putting a solar array on an electric tractor not only powers the tractor, but also eliminates all of the maintenance that would have been necessary with the moving parts in a diesel engine. An electric vehicle motor on a tractor will operate much longer without maintenance, he says. Switching to electric eliminates noise pollution, immediate exhaust emissions, and particulate matter that comes from diesel emissions. To Steve, blue skies and clean air are what rural farming areas are all about. Electric tractors make that a reality.

Alf quickly covers how Solectrac fits into the broader tractor market. He sees the sector as growing rapidly, and the opportunities to provide electric options plentiful. For Ideanomics, their investment in Soletrac is a way to support Steve’s work in getting cost-efficient, electric tractors to everyone who should be using them. Zach is especially excited for the ways in which this technology has the capacity to transform agricultural practices around the world. It’s truly a fascinating topic with much more opportunity than you’d think at first consideration.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!

Images courtesy Solectrac


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Written By

Winter is a Cutler Scholar and undergraduate student double majoring in Environmental Studies and Journalism at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, with a minor in French. Her academic interests include environmental communication, technology and social innovation, especially as they relate to international climate change mitigation and adaptation. Though Winter attends school in her hometown of Athens, Ohio, she takes advantage of her breaks to explore the world beyond. She spent her most recent break undertaking self-driven research on climate change and environmental justice in Southeast Asia. This year, she will be completing her dual thesis and supplementary documentary series on climate change communication. Winter is excited to contribute to and work with the team at CleanTechnica as a Summer Editorial Intern.

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