Hollandia Produce LLC, a California hydroponic vegetable grower-shipper founded more than four decades ago, has long been committed to sustainable growing practices at its Carpinteria greenhouses.

By recycling irrigation water and collecting rain runoff, the family owned and operated company boasts its lettuce production is as much as 84% more water efficient that field grown lettuce.

Hollandia Produce takes sustainability on the roadNow Hollandia Produce is taking its sustainability efforts to its delivery fleet with the introduction of a Peterbilt tractor fueled by compressed natural gas.  

“It’s just as extension of what we’ve tried to do here (in Carpinteria) by being responsible stewards in agriculture,” said Vincent Choate, director of marketing.  

The new tractor already meets the state’s strict emissions standards that go into effect in 2013.

“That was the whole idea, to try to get ahead of that curveball,” Choate said.

The tractor’s aerodynamic design also boosts fuel efficiency up to 12% and reduces drag 24%, he said.

The rig, pulling a trailer equipped with an equally emissions’-stingy hybrid electric refrigeration unit, is making daily deliveries to the Los Angeles area, about 200 miles round trip, Choate said.

The company’s two diesel rigs may soon be replaced by natural gas fueled tractors once the Peterbilt’s shake down is complete.

“We wanted to make sure we were getting the fuel economies as promised and that there were no performance issues,” Choate said.

The rig’s initial cost was marginally higher than the price of a diesel tractor, “but operational costs are very reasonable,” Choate said.

The only other investment required to begin using the natural gas powered tractor was the building of an onsite fueling station, he said.

Diesel prices have dropped since Hollandia Produce bought the truck, but “we’re still ahead of the curve,” Choate said.