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Navigating CARB Regulations and Shaping the Future of Agricultural Machinery

April 15, 2024
3 min


In February, the World Ag Expo showcased some of the latest innovations and trends in agriculture. When we weren’t discussing automation at our booth, the Bonsai team spent much of the show exploring and getting to know manufacturers. One trend we noticed was how several international OEMs omitted to include higher horsepower tractors that otherwise work well in orchard agriculture. After noticing this trend from a handful of OEMs, we couldn’t help but think this may be in response to a big concern in California - not downward commodity price pressure or industry consolidation, but CARB. The California Air Resources Board’s regulatory changes and limitations of CARB rebate programs are poised to impact the future of agricultural machinery significantly in the state. As we reflect on our experience at the Expo and consider the implications of CARB regulations, several key insights emerge.

CARB Regulations and the Future of Tractors and Orchard Machinery:  By 2025, CARB aims to achieve a significant reduction in emissions from agricultural equipment, with specific targets for different machinery categories. The emission goals go above and beyond national and EU emission benchmarks, and are poised to drastically impact the direction of innovation for OEMs, as well as future buying and leasing decisions for growers. Failure to meet these standards can result in penalties and fines, underscoring the urgency for manufacturers to prioritize compliance efforts to make their products attractive to growers and regulators alike.

Role of Data Collection in Regulatory Compliance: With CARB regulations emphasizing emissions tracking and efficiency monitoring, manufacturers are turning to advanced data collection technologies to ensure compliance. Manufacturers will need robust data collection systems that can track emissions, fuel consumption, and efficiency metrics to meet CARB standards and avoid penalties.

Electrification as a Response to Regulation: Electrification emerged as a potential response to impending CARB regulations, offering a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered machinery. A few companies, including startups like GUSS and AgXseed,  and more established OEMs like Flory, showcased new electrified machinery. The adoption of electric-powered equipment presents an opportunity for manufacturers to meet emission standards while enhancing operational efficiency. However, if CARB voucher incentives are no longer available, the price of electrified machinery may be out of reach for most growers.



Implications for Bonsai Robotics:  CARB and changes to their incentive program are a place of great concern, but also opportunity. We believe that navigating CARB regulations will involve greater machine efficiency and data collection - two things we pride ourselves in. By leveraging advanced data collection, Bonsai Robotics can help OEMs and growers meet compliance deadlines while optimizing machinery performance. If you’re interested in learning how Bonsai can help make your machines more efficient, feel free to get in contact with us.