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Carlo Lambro

Brand President, New Holland

A growing population, finite resources and the need for sustainable production that feeds the world in a responsible way all contribute significantly to the pressures placed on modern farming.

The industry is facing these challenges with energy and optimism, supported by businesses playing their part by giving farmers the tools they require to produce food in the most efficient and environment-friendly way possible.

Developing sustainable solutions

Among those businesses are some of the industry’s leading farm machinery manufacturers. New Holland, for example, is no newcomer to innovating in order to help farmers farm in an environmentally responsible manner. The business, part of CNH Industrial, launched its Clean Energy Leader strategy in 2006, committing to renewable fuels, emissions reduction systems and sustainable agricultural technology. Seven years later, New Holland underlined this commitment by unveiling its first methane-fuelled tractor prototype, providing a route to energy-independent, carbon-neutral farming via the production of methane gas fuel from animal and organic waste which produce the gas as they break down naturally in on-farm lagoons and digesters.

Using this abundant fuel source not only reduces the reliance on fossil fuel, but also makes use of a gas that has a greenhouse gas potency equal 86x to that of CO2. The T6.180 Methane Power debuted in 2017 and was launched officially two years later. It uses largely standard components, retaining the core components of the six-cylinder FPT Industrial NEF engine used in the conventional diesel-powered T6.180 tractor, save for the gas injectors and spark plugs that replace the diesel injection unit.

This further underlines the machine’s environmental credentials, with no need for complex engineering and components, especially in the exhaust gas clean-up. As a result, there is an overall reduction in emissions of 80% comparable diesel-powered model. Carbon monoxide emissions are reduced by 75%, non-methane hydrocarbons reduced by 90%, particulate matter by 98%, nitrous oxide by 62%, and CO2 by 11%. Yet, the tractor produces the same 175hp maximum boosted power and the same torque as its diesel cousin.

This sector is connected directly to the needs of nature as well as those of the human population.

Investing in precision technology

While methane-fuelled tractors are a recent commercial innovation, the industry has been using technology to minimise wastage and its environmental footprint for much longer. Precision farming tech, such as the Precision Land Management system, makes use of ultra-accurate signals from GPS and other satellite systems to ensure pass-to-pass parallel accuracy, enabling seed, fertilisers and crop protection products to be applied without misses or overlaps. As well as minimising wastage by progressively switching off and on machines.

Farmers can also collect detailed agronomic data as crops are harvested, with these figures then used to make input calculations for the following season. For example, the NutriSense system can monitor crop moisture data in real time to help make decisions on storage to guard against spoilage in both forage and grain crops.

More recent developments of precision technology include connected systems, such as PLM Connect. Via smart devices a PC, farmers can receive/send data from/to machines in real time, creating instant field records. Further examples of efficiency benefits include the ability to remotely monitor fuel levels and make just-in-time deliveries, removing the need for the tractor to return to base for refuelling, minimising on-road time. Owners can also monitor issues such as fuel consumption during work, to ensure drivers are operating the tractor and implementing combinations in the most efficient way.

Protecting the environment

“These technologies represent the farm equipment industry’s response to the need to become more sustainable in how we produce our food and look after our planet,” says Carlo Lambro, Brand President of New Holland.

“This sector is connected directly to the needs of nature as well as those of the human population. These advances we’ve made in recent decades show this industry is serious about its role in protecting the environment as well as producing food.”

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