Battle Ground farmer goes electric with farm equipment

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Sebastien Rubino / sebastian@thereflector.com

In a conscious effort to go green, Danny Rowland, owner of Misty Frog Acres at Battle Ground, is converting three of his 1975 Power King tractors to all-electric power.

Rowland was inspired by a pragmatic need to avoid constant repairs.

“There were a lot of different elements happening at the same time,” Rowland said. “I stared at my tractors and was frustrated with constantly having to replace these old engines. I recently started looking into electric vehicles in general, so I looked at (tractors) and realized they might be a good candidate.

Rowland said the farm practices regenerative pasture management and agriculture, as it tries “to be as environmentally friendly as possible”. Regenerative agriculture is when a farmer puts animals out to pasture at different times to help the ecological system, Rowland said. For example, his Icelandic sheep start in a field and as they move down the property to another area the chickens then move into the pasture. Misty Frog also makes compost and uses no-till beds. Rowland said he uses the tractors to pull the chickens to pasture because the birds live in large steel barns where they have light and water but are protected from predators.

He hopes his switch to electricity will inspire other farmers along the way.

“We’ve been in this business for eight years now, so what I’d like to do is see smallholder farmers supporting their local economies, while being able to make a living from it,” Rowland said. “I think part of that is being carbon friendly, raising humane animals, and treating the land and pasture in a way that you don’t need to use fertilizer.”

With electric tractors, Rowland said he is reducing carbon emissions.

“I believe the math is for every gallon of gas you put almost 20 pounds of CO2 into the air, so that means if you’re doing 20 gallons a month you’re putting over 400 pounds of emissions into the air. ‘air,” he said. “It’s a big amount, so if we can put a stop to that and try to help do our part on our property for climate change, that’s something. Our big dream is to be able to go out every day and to be proud of what we do, to raise animals appropriately and humanely, to not have animals in factory chains and to be fed in half-square-foot boxes This is just not fair.

Part of the tractor conversion process includes removing the internal combustion engine, cleaning the oil, and welding a subframe inside the tractor. Although he appreciates the electrical components, Rowland said he liked the old look of the tractors and wanted to keep it intact for the purpose of upcycling and recycling. He said it was also more cost-effective than buying another carbon-emitting tractor.

Rowland is also working on creating a modular battery bank that runs between tractors, which will save more money in the process.

“As for the number of batteries you have to buy, that’s also saved by doing it in a modular way, so I’ll be able to lift a battery pack off one tractor when I’m not using it and put it on another tractor. As far as farmers know, you usually have multiple tractors for multiple jobs,” he said.

One tractor is a loader and a backhoe, one is a field implement tractor and the other is towing their dump truck so they can move compost on their fields to fertilize produce.

For the conversion process, Rowland said there was a steep learning curve as he had no mechanical experience until he started working on his tractors.

He and his wife originally lived in Portland and moved to Battle Ground to raise their children and “provide the opportunity to learn how to grow our own food”. Rowland taught himself as he went, learning aspects of agriculture like ranching, maintaining equipment, and working the fields.

“The learning curve is there, but if you’re ready and you’re the do-it-yourselfer type, it’s not impossible,” Rowland said.

Rowland said agriculture in general is good for the country as a whole.

“I feel like the small farm has disappeared from American culture and it’s really an important part,” he said. “People used to trade food with each other and support each other. With these massive monocultures and farms, people have forgotten how to take care of their own food. Many people think chicken or eggs come from the grocery store and don’t realize there’s a farmer who supplies your meals three times a day.

Although Rowland’s first tractor is fully converted, there is a GoFundMe page to raise funds for his other two tractors which can be found online at gf.me/v/c/37ls/help-us-go-electric- on-the-farm.

To contact Misty Frog Acres and order food or products, call 503-887-2098 or email mistyfro gacres@gmail.com.


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