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Our Gisborne farm recently welcomed an electric harvester and two self-propelled cargo platforms to operate in its new mega greenhouse. It’s all part of their plan to find new ways to farm for a healthier future and try to help reduce carbon emissions. 

The new Hortech eco-slide electric harvester and Hortech cargo platform are both a first of their kind to New Zealand and specifically designed to suit LeaderBrand’s indoor environment and cropping system with quality, accuracy and harvesting widths.  

Our General Manager of Farming, Gordon McPhail said that reducing emissions, fuel and oil as well as finding new ways to farm sustainably and with new technology is an important focus for LeaderBrand.  

“We’re always looking for different ways we can be more climate friendly, 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. 

“The greenhouse is the right environment for us to trial and test if electric equipment will work in our business.  In fact, we designed the front packhouse of the facility with electric harvesters in mind getting the wiring and outlets built into the greenhouse before we’d commissioned the equipment,” he says. 

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

Technology and innovation continue to advance in the electric space, particularly in controlled environments, but 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.  

Gordon says that the team will continue to keep up to date with the industry experts and look for opportunities that make sense for their business environment.  

LeaderBrand was awarded an EECA grant which has helped with some of the cost of investing in an electric harvester. 

Radio New Zealand recently interviewed Gordon McPhail – Read the full story here Electric harvesting equipment trialled at Gisborne horticulture business