Green-thinking farms are ditching diesel quad bikes and going electric
PUBLISHED: 11:37 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:37 16 June 2020
Chris Hurdle/Electric Wheels
A Norfolk company forced to seek new markets for its electric utility vehicles during the lockdown has found a growing demand from environmentally-conscious farmers.
Electric Wheels, based in Little Cressingham, near Watton, was launched last year offering all-terrain electric motorbikes and utility buggies for hire to the event management, estate management and recreation sectors.
But after the Covid-19 crisis temporarily wiped out the events market, the company is now building a national reputation in the agricultural industry with farmers, agronomists and drone surveyors as far afield as Cornwall and Cumbria keen to take advantage of the vehicles’ zero-emissions environmental credentials.
Chris Hurdle, who also runs an event management business, started the company with a hire fleet of 25 electric 2x2 work bikes, and has since expanded the offering to include zero-emission buggies and a 14-seater “E-Bus”.
“Up until now, the options for low and zero-emissions utility vehicles in the agricultural sector have been very limited,” he said. “As the events sector has taken a big hit as a result of the coronavirus crisis, we started to seek out new markets – and have found we are knocking at an open door in the farming industry.
“It is clear that farmers and those supporting agriculture are ready to take a more environmentally-friendly approach to utility vehicles, as traditional diesel-powered work vehicles start to fall out of favour.”
One agricultural business which has made the switch away from diesel-powered quad bikes is Bury St Edmunds-based agronomy firm Keith Mount Liming, which is now using electric all-terrain work bikes during its in-field soil sampling.
Managing director Andrew Mount said: “Traditionally we have used quad bikes for field work, but at certain times of the year they are not always suitable, either because they don’t fit in the tramlines, or else because their weight would damage the crops. We can ride the electric bikes down the tractor wheelings, giving us great access without harming the crops themselves.
READ MORE: Can East Anglia’s farming industry emerge stronger from the coronavirus crisis?
“Electric Wheels have adapted the bikes and fitted carriers for our testing equipment and test tubes, which means we don’t even need to get off the bike to conduct the tests.
“In situations where quad bikes are unsuitable, our only option up until now has been to conduct the testing on foot, which limits how much ground we can cover in a day.
“The bikes are incredibly quiet, so you can talk while riding along, and because they will go for more than two days on a single charge, you are not constantly filling up the fuel tank, as you would a quad bike. Our customers really like the fact that we are using such an environmentally-friendly vehicle.”
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