Parsley stalks in a tractor tank

The blue New Holland Methane Power tractor is travelling with waste from parsley stalks today. They propel it when it takes up fermentation residues, take it to the field and unload there. What was tested in Dannenberg, Lower Saxony, for five weeks in the middle of October could be a sign of the future: agricultural machinery powered with methane gas instead of diesel or petrol. The machine was adapted to fit the tester's requirements by the AGRAVIS subsidiary Newtec Vertriebsgesellschaft für Agrartechnik mbH Newtec Vertriebsgesellschaft für Agrartechnik mbH in Peine.

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The agricultural machinery manufacturer New Holland introduced the first prototypes of the T6.140 methane-powered tractor at Agritechnica 2013. In the meantime, the development of market-ready alternative drive concepts has come much closer. The second generation prototype has already been tested in Italy, France, and England. The T6.180 first "travelled" on German soil in autumn 2016 with Horst Seide in Dannenberg.

Looking for new paths

The president of the Biogas e.V. professional association and operator of two biogas plants, as well as four biogas petrol stations, is the perfect practical tester for New Holland. Seide wants to fully move away from fossil fuels and electricity, whilst generating and using heat and fuel created from renewable energies. He is already self-sufficient in electricity and heat, and is now looking for a way to fuel his agricultural machinery with biogas as well as his private car.

Interested in the prototypes

New Holland delivered the tractor to the Newtec branch in Peine, which is one of the largest New Holland dealership organisations in Europe. The staff adjusted the tractor to the requirements of the site within a day. "We adjusted the compressed air system and mounted the hitch block", explained branch manager Jochen Etzold. The colleagues were extremely interested regarding the prototypes: "It is very interesting for every technician to experience something of this sort live at first hand. Many saw the first prototypes at Agritechnica", explained Etzold.

Fewer contaminants, lower costs

The T6.180 has a FPT6-cylinder engine with 6.75 l capacity and 179 HP. The CO2 exhaust emissions are 10 per cent lower and 80 per cent lower with regard to other contaminants. The fuel costs should be up to 40 percent lower compared to diesel. Seide is a special case, as his gas at the petrol station results in a reduction of CO2 by 85 percent, so the actual reduction is 90 percent, whilst fuel costs on refuelling are lower by approximately 10 percent.

Pleasantly surprised

"For us it is important to experience: Is the engine good enough? Are the features good enough? How reliable is the tractor? Is it possible to work with it?", explains Klaus Senghass, Communications Manager at New Holland. The tractor directly delivers the data to the testing department in Italy. Horst Seide's employees then also accurately state in writing the tasks that were carried out. After a good 100 hours of use in total, Seide is "pleasantly surprised: The tractor pulls, has enough torque, and can handle gradients with ease. There is no lack of comfort. It looks like a tractor and it handles like a tractor. I have to refuel it every five hours. Also, the costs are lower by two-thirds."

Using the entire scope

Every patch of space in the tractor is used for the nine gas tanks. In the future this should only be as many as is required so that refuelling can take place once per day. The tractor is propelled with manual transmission "as it is better for testing the engine. We also want to create a model with consistently variable transmission," explains Senghaas. "Everything that we have in construction kits should be offered as a diesel or biogas engine in the future. We want to use the entire scope," states Senghaas. Biogas production, biogas petrol station, CNG private vehicles – "everything is already there that is needed to save on CO2 even with regard to mobility," emphasises Horst Seide. “Agriculture just has to implement it. Also, politicians must want it."

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