Californian dairy announces ‘first’ full scale electric truck fuelled by biomethane
The Straus Family Creamery in Marin County, California, has announced the launch of the ‘first’ full-scale electric truck powered by biomethane created from cow manure.
California dairy farmer Straus Family is a pioneer in organic dairy and sustainable agriculture. The new truck is the next step in the dairy’s quest to show that it can be carbon positive, using agriculture as a solution to reversing climate change.
Albert Straus, CEO and founder of the Straus Family Creamery, along with a local mechanic, spent eight years developing the 33,000 lb. (13600kg) gross weight International Harvester to use as a feed truck on his farm. The truck measures, mixes and hauls feed before dropping it into a trough for the farm’s 300 organic dairy cows. The feed truck’s motor is charged from electrical power generated from methane gas produced by the cow’s own manure.
California’s new greenhouse gas reduction laws, which include methane emission targets of 40% below 2013 levels by 2030, are putting pressure on the state’s dairy farmers. The state’s Air Resources Board says that much of the reduction should come from converting methane from cow manure into energy. Dairy manure accounts for about a quarter of the state’s methane emissions.
“What I've tried to do is create a sustainable organic farming model that is good for the earth, the soil, the animals, and the people working on these farms, and helps revitalise rural communities,” said Straus.
“My electric feed truck is not only a practical tool for my organic farm. It is also a symbol of the resourcefulness we need to fight climate change, which threatens our business and the future of American farming.”
Since 2004, the Straus Family Creamery has been powered by a methane digester, fuelling an electric Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Leaf as well as other, smaller farm vehicles. Working alongside the Marin Carbon Project, the 500 acre farm was the first dairy in California to sequester 2,000 metric tons of carbon every year.
Ultimately, Straus aims to get the farm completely off fossil fuels. The next step in his plan is to unveil an all-electric farmer’s market truck to transport his company’s products to local markets in the San Francisco Bay Area.