California tractor exchange program produces cleaner air

Each winter, an international agricultural equipment exposition – the World Ag Expo – comes to California’s bread basket – the San Joaquin Valley and in Tulare in particular. WAE draws people from all corners of the globe. Like some of the equipment on display, this three-day extravaganza is huge. I have been there but once. WAE in 2014 will take place from Feb. 11th to Feb. 13th.

With an event as big as this one, what could possibly be missing? One attraction I could see on site is a tractor compactor. Seriously!

The process could be made simple: Any used, polluting tractor could be brought in to be crushed and, in exchange a voucher to go toward the purchase of a new, cleaner-burning or zero-emissions model (if there is such a thing) could be awarded.

Too far-fetched of an idea? I don’t think so.

To provide some background, remember in the previous post I mentioned that I have a cordless electric lawn mower? Well, I came to acquire this through a San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District-sponsored exchange program. All that was required was that I bring my existing gasoline-powered lawn mower to a specified drop-off site (an area scrap yard in this case), pick up a voucher in exchange (also on site) and then mail the voucher to the participating electric-mower manufacturer and, in return, sent to my home would be the electric mower of my choosing – a very straightforward process if I do say so myself. When all was said and done, I believe the money I spent for the mower was half what this model mower would normally cost if purchased without it being part of this particular exchange program. Without the incentivization aspect, I’m not sure I would have gone this route.

So, I’m thinking if this type of program is applicable to lawn mowers, why not carry that one step farther – tractors? It so happens there was just such a tractor exchange event held on Sept. 24th in Fresno.

“It’s a voluntary program involving $100 million in government funding to help farmers replace old tractors,” Mark Grossi on The Fresno Bee’s “Earth Log” wrote. “The more than 3,200 farmers who have gotten involved in the last four years typically get tractors that run 75% cleaner.

The event held at Bruno’s Iron and Metal of Fresno drew federal, state and local officials including U.S. Congressman Jim Costa (D) of Fresno. Representatives from the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, Natural Resources Conservation Service, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, were also on hand, according to Grossi.

“But the star of this show was the 1989 tractor and [farmer Will] Scott, who grows black-eyed peas, okra, corn, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.

“‘I think it shows we are all working together,’ he said. ‘There are a tremendous amount of small farmers here, and we are part of the solution, too,” Grossi wrote in citing Scott, Jr.

According to Grossi, the per-year nitrogen oxides (NOx) reduction rate due to the tractor replacement initiative is 3,400 tons or the equivalent of removing from California roadways one million motor vehicles.

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