#2 - Small Farm Syndrome

New Holland on Its Energy Independent Farm Concept

Methane-powered concept tractor for sustainable farming. Courtesy of New Holland.

At the SIMA agricultural fair in Paris last year, Carlo Lambro, Brand President of New Holland Agriculture, spoke about how New Holland is addressing pressure on food production and the environment posed by exponential population growth. With an estimated population of 9.7 billion people by 2050, agriculture plays a crucial role in the future environmental responsibility

New Holland, which manufactures and sells agricultural equipment, has been exploring how farmers can benefit from renewable energy produced on the farm. 

In 2009 we developed the Energy Independent Farm Concept, which sees farmers becoming completely energy self-sufficient, generating from renewable sources all the energy they need—including fuel for their machines and electricity for their farm operations,” Sean Lennon, Head of Tractors Product Line at New Holland tells AgriExpo e-Magazine. 

This concept is based on the generation of energy from what are today considered to be mere by-products and waste, alongside the integrated use of energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and biomass.

New Holland’s NH2 Hydrogen Powered Tractor received a 2009 SIMA Innovation Award

Since we launched our Clean Energy Leader program 10 years ago, pioneering the use of alternative fuels, we have been exploring different paths to achieve sustainable farming. We developed our NH2 hydrogen concept tractor to explore the possibilities of this alternative energy source, and we proved its feasibility to provide a zero emissions solution in the future when the technology required becomes commercially available. 

For the moment, New Holland is putting the development of hydrogen-powered engines on hold until the required technologies become more accessible. As an immediate solution, New Holland has been developing a methane or biomethane powered tractor. 

We believe that farm-produced biomethane is a much more commercially viable near-term alternative fuel for tractors, thanks to the developing distribution network and the possibility for on-farm production, as well as the ease of fueling and storage. Biomethane can be produced on-farm from specifically grown energy crops or food material. Waste food can also be sourced from factories, supermarkets and restaurants.

The engines for New Holland’s equipment are designed and produced by natural gas technology pioneer for over 20 years FPT Industrial, the powertrain brand of CNH Industrial. Using innovative efficient combustion technology, FTP Industrial has developed a specific powertrain, a mechanism by which power is generated and transmitted, for agricultural use. 

“This 6-cylinder NEF methane engine delivers the same power and torque as its standard diesel equivalent, has the same durability and service intervals, and generates up to 30% running cost savings,” according to Lennon. In addition, the engine reduces noise by about 50%.  

By achieving the ‘closed-loop’ virtuous cycle of the Energy Independent Farm, farmers can produce CO2-neutral fuel, protect themselves from fluctuating oil prices and save significantly on running costs. In addition, they can sell any surplus gas. 

As renewably fueled engines bring farmers new potential, farmers can urge the world towards a more sustainable future. 


About the Author

Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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