Thursday, 11 April 2024 09:25

Leaderbrand goes electric!

Written by  Peter Burke
The electric harvest machines have been specifically designed to suit LeaderBrand’s indoor environment and cropping system with quality, accuracy and harvesting widths. The electric harvest machines have been specifically designed to suit LeaderBrand’s indoor environment and cropping system with quality, accuracy and harvesting widths.

One of the largest horticulture commercial growing companies in NZ has just begun using a new electric harvester and self-propelled cargo platforms to operate in its new mega greenhouse.

LeaderBrand's general manager of farming, Gordon McPhail, says it's all part of the company's plan to find new ways to farm for a healthier future and try to help reduce carbon emissions.

The machines are being used in the company's 10.7 hectare glass house at its base in Gisborne. The huge glass house is unique in that vegetables - mainly salad types - are grown in the natural soil. It also has its own 40 million litre storage dam to irrigate plants.

The new Hortech eco-slide electrice harvester and Hortech cargo platform are both the first of their kind in NZ. The machines have been specifically designed to suit LeaderBrand's indoor environment and cropping system with quality, accuracy and harvesting widths.

McPhail says the new machines will reduce emissions and save on fuel and oil as well as demonstrating new ways to farm sustainably and with new techology, which is an important focus for LeaderBrand.

"We're always looking for different ways we can be more climate friendl, and this is another step in the right direction. It's also great for the safety of our team as the electric harvester is less noisy than our diesel engines, which is helping to improve communication and safety for our teams in the greenhouse," he told Hort News.

McPhail says the greenhouse is the right environment for LeaderBrand to trial and test if electric equipment will work in their business. He says they designed the front packhouse of the facility with electric harvesters in mind getting the wiring and outlets built into the greenhouse before they commissioned the equipment.

"With oversight charging we can get a solid 12-hour run time on the harvester, which is more than enough power to get us through our day which suits our busy team perfectly."

McPhail says that technology and innovation continue to advance in the electric space - particularly in controlled environments. But he adds that there is still a lot of research needed around scenarios involving work in the open field situation with variable workloads and potential to be far away from charging stations.

McPhail told Hort News that the LeaderBrand team will continue to keep up to date with the industry experts and look for opportunities that make sense for their business environment.

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