The unveiling of a second methane gas-fuelled tractor at the Farm Progress Show in the USA underscores New Holland’s enthusiasm for exploring the practicality and cost-effectiveness of alternatives to diesel – while giving some possible clues to future design direction.
A key element of the concept tractor is an FPT six-cylinder engine claimed to feature “ground-breaking efficient combustion technology” that develops the same power and torque as its diesel-fuelled counterpart for 30% of its running costs.
It is also significantly quieter – down by about 50% in terms of drive-by noise or up to 3dBA in decibel measurement. Emissions during field tests include a reduction in carbon dioxide of at least 10%, with total emissions down by 80%.
Fuel it with bio-methane produced by digesting crop residues and farm-grown energy crops – as New Holland envisages in its Energy Independent Farm concept – and carbon dioxide emissions are virtually zero.
The research tractor is based on a New Holland T6 and produces up to 180hp and 740Nm of torque – as does the diesel-fuelled equivalent. But it also displays futuristic styling and cab engineering, with more neatly integrated gas storage being part of the swept wrap-around style and large panes of glass bonded to the cab pillars as on modern cars.
A “floating” roof installation helps maximise visibility horizontally and upwards to a loader – although unlike the Panoramic cab option from one of its competitors, New Holland has not managed to eliminate a rail across the top of the windscreen, which interrupts the upwards view.
Carlo Lambro, New Holland agriculture brand president, said: “The new methane-powered concept tractor is the latest development in New Holland’s pursuit of sustainable and efficient technology through innovation.
“Its ground-breaking engine delivers the same performance and has the same durability as its standard equivalent, but with much lower running costs.”
The CNH Industrial business unit has pursued its Clean Energy Leader strategy for more than a decade, being the first manufacturer to offer 100% compatibility with biodiesel in 2006, producing a hydrogen-fuelled tractor in 2009 and creating a propane-fuelled tractor in 2012 that continues to be developed in partnership with the Propane Education & Research Council.