California dairy farmer Albert Straus, a pioneer in organic dairy and sustainable agriculture, has developed a full-scale electric truck that's powered by cow manure.
This new full-scale-electric feed truck is the next step in Straus' quest to show that his Marin County, Cal., organic dairy farm can be carbon positive, using agriculture as a solution to reversing climate change.
Straus, along with a local mechanic, spent eight years developing the 33,000 lb. gross weight International Harvester truck to use as a feed truck on his farm.
The truck measures, mixes and hauls feed before dropping it into the trough for his nearly 300 organic dairy cows. An environmentally friendly alternative to diesel-fueled trucks, the feed truck's motor is charged from electrical power generated from methane gas produced by the cows' own manure.
California dairy farmers are facing pressure to lower methane emissions under the state's ambitious new greenhouse gas reduction laws, which include the target to reduce methane emissions 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. According to the California Air Resources Board, 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 revitalize rural communities,” said Straus, chief executive officer and founder of Straus Family Creamery.
Straus' methane digester has been powering his farm since 2004, fueling his all-electric Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Leaf, plus smaller farm vehicles and machinery.
Working with the Marin Carbon Project, Straus said his 500-acre farm is California's first dairy to develop a 20-year carbon farming plan to sequester 2,000 metric tons of carbon every year. His goal is to demonstrate to the farming community and the public that farmers can implement and teach other practical solutions to climate change. Ultimately, Straus is working toward getting his farm off fossil fuels entirely.
U.S. sales of plug-in electrical vehicles have increased nine-fold since 2011, per Inside EVs. Still, Straus believes he is the first to put a full-scale electric feed truck into use. Tesla Motor's electric semi-truck is slated for release in September 2017.
Next, Straus plans to unveil an all-electric farmers market truck to transport his Straus Family Creamery's organic milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream and butter to local markets in California's San Francisco Bay Area.
Based in Marshall, Cal., Straus Family Creamery is a certified organic creamery offering milk, cream, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream and a variety of wholesale and specialty dairy products distributed throughout the western U.S. Limited distribution is available in other parts of the country.
The creamery makes high-quality, minimally processed dairy products from organic milk supplied by family farms in Marin and Sonoma counties, including the Straus dairy farm.