UNITED STATES—California is getting serious about air quality, and the latest CARB requirements are the strictest seen so far.

If you run a heavy-duty diesel vehicle as part of your farming business, getting to grips with these regulations is important. Here’s an exploration of what compliance involves, and how you can meet the necessary standards.

The basics

The latest CARB requirements will come into force at the start of 2023 and will apply to any trucks or buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000lbs or more.

Any vehicle which has been produced from 2010 onwards will be compliant with the rules for emissions. Trucks that are older than this have to either be fitted with a filter to remove harmful particulates before exhaust gasses pass into the air, or have an entire engine swap so that the power plant is compliant itself.

If the GVWR is over 26,000lbs then further filtration upgrades and additional reporting are needed, while lighter vehicles aren’t subject to the same requirements.

Updating your truck to be CARB-compliant

In order to meet the CARB requirements you can update your truck to be CARB-compliant with the help of used engines, so long as they fall within the desired engine model year (EMY) period. This basically covers any unit produced post-2010, as mentioned.

Fitting a particulate filter also makes sense, because it will improve air quality and lessen the impact of your industry on the environment. Furthermore, when you upgrade to a newer engine while retaining the existing cab and load bed of a truck, you’ll be getting more efficient power which will drive down fuel costs at a time when they are at record levels.

The importance of compliance

Having a truck with a compliant EMY and a particulate filter, whether you use it for agricultural harvesting and deliveries or any other commercial purpose, is necessary for a few other reasons not covered so far.

Chiefly there’s the likelihood that your business will be penalized if it is found to have breached CARB requirements. This could result in a fine that stretches into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, easily eclipsing any benefit that might have come from choosing not to pay for an engine upgrade.

There’s also the fact that your vehicles won’t be able to enter any of the state’s major ports without being compliant, which is obviously not ideal if you rely on exporting your products overseas to keep your company afloat.

The additional factors for farmers to consider

Bear in mind that CARB requirements don’t just apply to truck owners, but also to anyone that uses commercial vehicles which fall into the heavy-duty category and are powered by diesel.

So for example, if you simply hire a truck for a set period, perhaps during the harvest, it’s up to you to ensure that the company you rent it from has made the updates needed to adhere to air quality rules. If not, you could be fined in addition to the supplier, further incentivizing the adoption of clean air regulations.

The last word on CARB requirements

With all of the regulatory weight behind them, the CARB requirements cannot be ignored, and we’re reaching the crunch point at which operating a truck with an EMY pre-2010 is neither wise nor economical.

Because you can make use of used engines, or replace an entire truck with a newer but still second-hand model, there’s really no reason to ignore the influence of air quality regulations as a farm owner.