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article imageSustainable agriculture's tractor of the future unveiled

By Karen Graham     Aug 30, 2017 in Technology
A sustainable vision for the future of farming was unveiled on Tuesday at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, in the form of a methane powered concept tractor from New Holland Agriculture, a global agricultural equipment brand of CNH Industrial.
In recent years, New Holland has spearheaded the search for products, designs, and innovative features that ensure the future of sustainable agriculture will be met, with farmers moving away from a dependence on fossil fuels.
The new tractor should be in production within three years and will allow farmers to move away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles toward renewable sources by using a closed-loop, virtuous cycle that powers tractors using energy produced from their own land and waste products.
CC License:Attrition  no deriv. 
New Holland Concept tractor in operation.
CC License:Attrition, no deriv. New Holland Concept tractor in operation.
New Holland
Developed by the New Holland design and engineering teams, the concept tractor is unlike anything seen in the agriculture industry to date. It combines alternative fuels and advanced agricultural technology with readily available powertrain innovation from FPT Industrial, the powertrain brand of CNH Industrial.
The tractor features an advanced fuel tank design, and if farmers don't have resources to produce their own biomethane, the New Holland methane-powered concept tractor can be powered by ‘conventional’ network methane. The tractor refills the same way a conventional diesel-powered tractor would be refueled, using a single nozzle.
Biomethane as an alternative fuel
Biomethane can be produced by using a mixture of specifically grown crops and waste plant or food materials, with the latter being solids or liquids. So this means materials can be gathered from farms, supermarkets, food factories and other places and fed into a biodigester.
Concept tractor being used to add waste materialto biodigester.
CC License: Attrition  no deriv.
Concept tractor being used to add waste materialto biodigester. CC License: Attrition, no deriv.
New Holland
In the biodigester, in the absence of air, the materials are heated and broken down biologically, sort of like a compost pile. In a fermentation process that takes about 60 days, it gives off biogas, including biomethane. This can be refined into a fuel-grade biomethane used to fuel a tractor.
This concept means that farms with enough acreage to grow crops for biomethane production would be well suited to using the new tractor. This enables agribusinesses not only to be fuel sufficient but also energy sufficient. “The new methane-powered concept tractor’s engine delivers the same performance and has the same durability as its standard equivalent, but with much lower running costs,” said New Holland Brand President Carlo Lambro.
State-of-the-art cab
Additional innovations have been added to the tractor's cab, including voice-activation so a farmer can keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times. A new "headliner display" on the right-hand side of the cab is positioned so it can be viewed with just a slight turn of the head.
A look inside the cab of the concept tractor.
CC License: Attrition  no deriv.
A look inside the cab of the concept tractor. CC License: Attrition, no deriv.
New Holland
Besides providing information on tractor parameters such as PTO speed, linkage height, hydraulic flow and the lighting package, one of the screens is dedicated to a view provided by cameras which replace the conventional wing mirrors. The third section of the headliner display gives the driver radar weather data and a news feed, together with climate control information and a media package.
The specific software on a smartphone makes it the link between the farm office and the tractor. The tractor can be located and unlocked using a fingerprint identification process, which is replicated in the cab as an additional security measure. The tractor incorporates a full suite of ‘precision farming’ technologies, with a sleekly integrated roof antenna, enabling it to steer itself along rows in the field, for example. It also possesses elements of autonomous technology, such as automatic detection of obstacles.
More about new holland, sustainable agriculture, Tractor, Biofuel, advanced technology
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