Biological Systems Engineering



Pitla 0000-0002-3713-4569

Date of this Version



Journal of the ASABE (2023) 66(6): 1,481-1,496

doi: 10.13031/ja.15556

Approved for publication as a research article by Associate Editor Sami Khanal and Community Editor Heping Zhu of the Machinery Systems Community of ASABE


Copyright 2023, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Used by permission


Power sources such as batteries, used for both on-road and off-road vehicles, are advancing at a rapid pace. Electric batteries are becoming more power dense, thus allowing them to be used as a power source to replace previous diesel or gasoline-powered systems. Efforts are underway to transition off-road agricultural vehicles from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs); however, the energy requirements of typical agricultural field operations need to be fully understood before such a transition can occur. Theoretical prediction equations available in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) standards or the use of engine load data from a tractor’s Controller Area Network (CAN) bus are two methods for determining the energy demands of implements on tractors. In this study, tractor CAN bus data was collected from multiple no-till corn planting operations to estimate the energy requirements of the planting operation in kWh. The estimated energy requirement was used to determine the equivalent physical mass and volume of a lithium-ion battery needed to power a hypothetical fully electric tractor for comparable planting operations. The estimated battery capacities using the worst-case field-use scenario in this study were 1,117 kWh for operating a 16-row planter to plant 68 ha (168 acre) in a day at an average ground speed of 8.6 km h-1 (5.4 mph) for 14 hours, and 2,658 kWh for operating a 48-row planter to plant 158 ha (391 acre) in a day at an average ground speed of 8.9 km h-1 (5.6 mph) for 15 hours. Given the current battery energy density requirements, the equivalent battery masses and volumes were found to be 5,319 kg and 3.33 m3, 12,657 kg and 7.93 m3, for 16-row planter and 48-row planter, respectively. These high kWh estimates needed to power future fully-electric tractor power units are based on worst-case scenarios that could be encountered in real field operations that use wide planters over long operating hours.