Marking the culmination of months of hard work, meticulous planning, and careful management in the face of challenging weather, harvest season is a pivotal time on a farm. The livelihoods of millions of farmworkers depend on the successful execution of this critical operation. Beckstoffer Vineyards added four Monarch MK-V tractors to its fleet mere weeks before its harvest. Where others see risk in introducing new technology near harvest, Beckstoffer saw a strategy to get ahead and overcome perennial challenges.
Past, Present & Future
World renowned for its exceptional grapes, Beckstoffer includes some of California’s most historic vineyards. With the MK-V, Beckstoffer is integrating one of AgTech’s newest, most advanced solutions available in the form of a smart, driver-optional, 100% electric tractor at the intersection of old and new is the goal to keep the vineyards healthy and profitable for many more generations. For that, Beckstoffer needs innovative solutions to some of ag’s persistent challenges.
One of the industry challenges that we face is just trying to stay green. Any way we can reduce emissions and cut back our diesel is always a plus. And being a no-till operation now, we’re required to do more passes and mowing.
Conner Berken, Assistant Vineyard Manager, Beckstoffer Vineyards
Organic farming practices improve and protect soil health, require less water, and yield healthier produce. But going green requires more passes with a mower resulting in increased labor and diesel costs along with more emissions. For conventional and organic farming alike, safety concerns and time demands are always present. Beckstoffer quickly discovered that the Monarch MK-V helped address all of these issues, helping the vineyard strengthen its environmental and financial sustainability.
It’s one thing to be excited about organic farming, but the real work of farming cannot be sacrificed. When the MK-Vs arrived the Beckstoffer team had some initial concerns. Battery range and power was on everyone’s mind. And because it was new technology, team members wondered how customer support would operate in the event of an issue – an inevitable reality of farming.
At the beginning when we first saw the electric tractors, my colleagues and I thought that they wouldn’t work well for the job. However, as we used them, they worked perfectly.
Eric Guadalupe Riva Hertado, Tractor Operator at Beckstoffer Vineyards
Everyone was pleased to find the MK-V was more powerful than anticipated and lasted eight hours of mowing on various terrain. On the days operations went to 10 hours, Berken reports that the MK-V held strong and had extra power.
Adding Up the Gains
After deploying the MK-Vs, members of the Beckstoffer team quickly pinpointed advantages across farm operations. Data reporting and improved visibility with Monarch’s Wingspan Ag Intelligence (WingspanAI) proved particularly helpful.
“If I have a question, I don’t need to go hunting around the entire vineyard to find an operator. I just log onto WingspanAI on my phone, see where they are on the block and just wait for them at the end of the row rather than guessing all the time,” Berken explains. “It’s a real time saver. It’s also really cool that I can pull up the cameras on my desktop or phone and see what the operators are seeing. It’s another way to see what’s going on out in the field.”
Unprecedented safety in a tractor, portable power, customer support from Monarch Tractor, and ease of use were also notable benefits. The ability to issue tickets directly from the tractor saves time and frustration. Ease of use included everything from getting the tractor ready in the morning to its camera technology, which simplified implement hook ups and efficiency with operations.
The team’s confidence in the MK-V fueled enthusiasm for harvest season where the MK-V was put on task pulling bin trailers and powering lights. Berken also believes that because the MK-V is an electric tractor, it’s helping the team with less noise and chaos by reducing the need for so many loud and smelly generators.
“Everyone is curious on how the MK-V works,” Berken says. “It’s really exciting to tell them that we get to use it and that it’s working well for us.”