• Mike Casey

Why we use Electric Orchard Equipment

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

There is an advantage to starting an orchard with a blank canvas in 2019, and that is that we can take full advantage of an age of new electric technology.

Ryobi electric ride on mower and electric golf cart

Ryobi Electric Ride On Mower

I don't know for certain but I believe we were the first in New Zealand to purchase this compact 48V electric ride-on mower. My attitude to mowing and scheduling of my day had to change a bit when going electric, this Ryobi mower goes for an ample 1-2 hours and takes about 3 hours to charge, which means in the height of summer, we are mowing through 3 battery cycles every morning, lunchtime and evening to keep on top of the grass in the orchard rows!


Euan enjoying a beer while mowing the rows

I want to upgrade to something a little wider when it comes onto the market (or use a PTO mower on a future electric tractor), but as of October 2020 we have clocked up over 200 hours on the mower and counting. Advantages of electric ride on mowing

  • Free energy (with our solar)

  • So quiet you can talk on the phone

  • No messing around with refuelling

  • Cheap - only $5000 from Bunnings

Disadvantages

  • Longevity - Takes many charges to do the whole orchard

  • Efficiency - Isn't wide enough to do the whole row (yet)

Electric Golf Cart This has hands down been the greatest purchase for our orchard. Many people get confused about the "golf cart", in reality its much closer to an electric ATV by the time we finished upgrading it.



Carting away unwanted Mallow weed in the golf cart

We had it raised (suspension lift) and added heavy off-road tyres along with a tow-bar, tipping tray and extra batteries. The batteries go all day and the only real disadvantage is because we use it so much during the day we don't charge it while we are generating solar activity. The solution is to add a solar panel to the roof so that we don't drain as much battery power from our battery array while charging at night. Orchard work is very stop-start, and the wonderful thing about an electric vehicle is that there is no need to constantly idle the engine (or turn it on and off repeatedly), it's also super quiet meaning it's much easier to have a chat with the team or enjoy the tranquility of a fine Central Otago afternoon. The golf cart was just over $13000 NZD, all up from NZ Golf Carts. Tell Ray that Mike from Forest Lodge sent you. Electric Gardening Equipment by EGO

It's wonderful not having to mess around with a bunch of smelly, unreliable and noisy two-stroke motors to get stuff done. The EGO range at Mitre10 in NZ is fantastic - its quiet and reliable and the batteries go for hours. I am not sure why anyone would bother buying new brush cutters and line trimmers that consume of petrol.

Ego electric gardening tools

The chainsaw is probably the best I have ever used, it's amazing how torque from an electric motor makes such a difference. It's also a strange sensation chainsawing without ear protection. EGO provides a back-pack to hold the larger 7.5Ah lithium ion batteries, but you can also plug the batteries straight into the tool itself, which is really handy for smaller jobs and ideal with smaller batteries. These were not cheap comparatively to petrol equipment but about a million times better, so I would highly recommend going electric when it's time to buy new tools.



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