London, August 29, 2017
Can you imagine a farm of the future which is completely energy independent, satisfying all of its
own fuel and energy requirements, as well as those of the local community? Now try imagining
that same farm achieving this using waste products. That’s what the engineers and designers at
New Holland did. And they’ve done more than just imagine it. They’ve delivered it.
Farmers could spearhead the move away from fossil fuel powered vehicles towards renewable
sources, by using a ‘closed-loop’ virtuous cycle that powers tractors using energy produced from
their own land and waste products. That’s the thinking behind the new methane powered concept
tractor from New Holland Agriculture, a global agricultural brand of CNH Industrial N.V. (NYSE:
CNHI / MI: CNHI).
This concept features a reimagined tractor design, which is a clear departure from anything seen
to date in agriculture. The New Holland methane powered concept tractor reflects the increasing
importance and viability of alternative fuels in farming, and of creating fuel from crops, agricultural
waste and waste from the wider food industry. New Holland has proactively combined alternative
fuels and advanced agricultural technology to create a modern, sustainable solution to the need
for ‘future-proof’ power, with readily available and proven powertrain technology.
Proven expertise in natural gas powertrain technologies
CNH Industrial’s brands have a long history in developing and commercializing natural gaspowered
vehicles, and they are the market leaders in this area. Since pioneering natural gas
technology 20 years ago, FPT Industrial, the powertrain brand of CNH Industrial, has produced
more than 30,000 natural gas engines, running on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and
liquefied natural gas (LNG). There are some 22,000 natural gas powered vehicles from CNH
Industrial’s truck and bus brands IVECO and IVECO BUS on the road today, making them the
absolute European leaders in this segment. Capital cities as diverse as Astana, Baku, Madrid and
Paris have chosen natural gas-powered IVECO BUS fleets to transport their citizens.
Today, there are some 5,750 gas-powered IVECO BUS products on the world’s roads. CNH
Industrial and IVECO are also working with world governments, such as that of Israel, with whom
they have established a cooperation to develop alternative fuel and natural gas-based
technologies. In addition, FPT Industrial is working on a range of hybrid and electric propulsion
solutions, with some 1,200 IVECO and IVECO BUS vehicles powered by this technology
produced to date.
A complete range of alternative fuel solutions
This broad experience in alternative fuels has brought considerable benefits to the development
of New Holland’s methane powered concept tractor in terms of viability, reliability and proven
New Holland itself has a rich history in this area, and a key pillar of its Clean Energy Leader
Strategy, which encompasses all areas impacting sustainable agriculture, is to develop products
that can help produce and use alternative fuels. Having led the way in 2006, as the first
manufacturer to offer 100% biodiesel compatible products, enabling farmers to grow their own
fuel, New Holland went on to create the world’s first hydrogen tractor concept: the NH2™, and has
proven the feasibility of this in agriculture. In 2009, New Holland launched the concept of the
Energy Independent Farm™ system to accelerate the adoption of alternative fuels, and since
then, has been actively pursuing solutions to make it a reality. In 2012 this lead to an initial
propane powered tractor prototype, which demonstrated New Holland’s commitment to finding
alternative fuels which deliver reduced emissions and lower running costs. This work culminated
in the development of the first methane tractor prototype in 2013, and two further iterations were
subsequently released and field tested in farms in agricultural realities as diverse as Brazil, the
Czech Republic, France, Italy, and the UK.
Powerful methane engine technology from FPT Industrial
The new methane powered tractor concept represents a significant technological advance,
building on the foundations of previous prototypes. It uses an FPT Industrial engine which has
been specifically developed for agricultural applications and delivers maximum power of 180hp
and maximum torque of 740Nm – identical to the equivalent diesel powerplant. The engine
features stoichiometric combustion technology, which has been developed by FPT Industrial, and
was first introduced in 1995; it is applied across the entire natural gas engine portfolio as it
enables comparative performance to diesel engines, whilst delivering ultra-low emissions and high efficiency.
The methane powered concept tractor features advanced fuel tank design that enables day-long
autonomy. In addition to farm-grown energy crops, crop residue and other waste products are
used to produce biomethane, the resulting fuel has a virtually zero CO2 profile – and delivers an
80% reduction in overall emissions.
The concept’s powertrain develops the same power and torque as its standard diesel counterpart,
meaning identical infield performance. And this is achieved with a 50% reduction in drive-by noise
levels, which makes it ideal when working in the yard, especially around livestock and in
The virtuous cycle: the benefits of biomethane
Biomethane is produced using a cyclical system that delivers CO2 neutral production. It
particularly suits on-farm use by agricultural vehicles as farmers already possess the raw
materials and the space to produce the gas. This enables agribusinesses not only to be fuel
sufficient, but also energy sufficient, as biomethane can also be burned to generate electricity to
power farm buildings as well as to satisfy any heating requirements. In addition, it can be fed into
the gas grid for domestic requirements, and can be used to create electricity to be fed into the
national grid to power communities, creating a truly virtuous cycle.
Biomethane can be produced from a mixture of specifically-grown energy crops and waste plant
or food material, the latter in both liquid and solid forms. This material is either harvested from the
fields or gathered at the farm from sources such as food factories, supermarkets and restaurants
and canteens, and is fed into a biodigester. Here, in the absence of air, it is heated and begins to
break down biologically as it is digested by bacteria, much like any compost heap. As it does so, it
gives off biogas – including biomethane – in a two-stage fermentation process lasting around 60
days. This is eventually refined to produce fuel-grade biomethane, a product which can then be
used to power the tractor.
Known as digestate, the liquid and solid waste plant materials collected from the digester after
gas production has ceased, have a high nutritional profile, and are used as fertilizer, on the fields
that are then sown with next season’s crops.
In this way, farmers can produce their own CO2-neutral fuel, while also protecting themselves
from fluctuating oil prices, as well as benefiting from significant running cost savings of between
10 and 30 percent over buying-in diesel. In addition, they can turn waste products such as animal
manures, crop straw and waste food into energy, and can benefit from an additional revenue
stream by selling biomethane to third parties to fuel their vehicles. And even for farmers who do
not have the resources to produce their own biomethane, the New Holland methane powered
concept tractor can be powered by ‘conventional’ network methane.
A full day’s autonomy
To make optimal use of space, the tractor’s fuel is stored within tanks produced using a
composite layered tubular structure within a sleek and integrated storage structure fitted at the
front of the tractor, together with two tanks on the left and right of the machine. This new layout
enables a full day of farm-work autonomy. The tractor is as easy to refuel as one powered
conventionally with diesel, using a single nozzle, and with comparable filling time.
Due to the reduction in polluting emissions arising from methane combustion, a simplified after
treatment system is used, which features a maintenance-free single standard catalytic converter.
All-round farming versatility
New Holland’s concept methane powered tractor is able to complete all of the tasks that a
standard diesel powered equivalent would undertake. From yard work to transport, high speed
field work, cultivation and heavy draft activities such as ploughing through to loader work feeding
animals and loading grain, the concept methane powered tractor delivers outstanding agricultural
versatility in a productive and sustainable package.
Futuristic unique agronomic design
CNH Industrial’s international design team have reimagined tractor styling, and created a vision
for the future of tractor design. Key New Holland styling cues have been accentuated, such as the
aggressive hood air intake gills and combined with futuristic elements including the wrap-around
hood, which extends into the ‘collar’ of the cab, integrated front fenders to create a flowing design
and a custom metallic blue livery. A complete LED lighting package features New Holland
signature lighting, with lights integrated into the front tank, front fenders, hood and roof mounted
work lights, roof mounted stop lights and aggressive rear fender lights to offer unsurpassed levels
of in-field visibility.
A range of technologically advanced materials have been used to enhance the operating
environment, to increase comfort and reduce fatigue. The new seat, which evokes the form of a
stylized New Holland leaf, has been produced in a wick-away fabric with a honeycomb structure.
This fabric facilitates air circulation and keeps the operator cool in hot weather and insulates them
in cooler periods. The layout of the cushions further enhances air circulation.
Ultimate visibility from the fully glazed cab
The methane powered concept tractor’s cab features a design that is radically different from the
operator’s usual workplace, aiding safety, productivity and comfort. Advanced features include:
- Wrap-around glazing provides 360-degree visibility, with a 20% increase in the glazed
area compared to a standard tractor.
- The floating domed roof creates a completely panoramic design – an agricultural first –
and will enable operators to view a front loader throughout the entire operational arc,
aiding tasks from loading digestate to feeding cattle.
- The use of 360-degree viewing cameras eliminates the need for wing mirrors, with the
surrounding view displayed on the fixed hub steering wheel display. Wireless cameras
can also be attached to implements operated by the tractor, for close-up viewing of
Ergonomic, intuitive and connected operation
A smartly-designed integral right-hand armrest is an exercise in minimalism, resulting in a clutterfree
tractor cab operating environment. All essential controls are instantly accessible, and
additional parameters are controlled through the interactive headliner display. The integrated
- Ergonomic joystick to control the front loader;
- Gear and range shift buttons;
- Hydraulic paddles to manage rear mounted implements;
- Throttle control;
- PTO engagement and control.
The entire armrest is attached to the seat, so it swivels in conjunction with the seat itself,
enhancing ergonomic operation when working with rear mounted implements such as mowers
The fixed hub steering wheel mounted display cluster remains in a fixed, upright position,
independent of the position of the steering wheel. This display provides immediate access to the
most frequently consulted operating parameters including:
- Forward speed, engine temperature, engine speed, direction of travel, fuel gauge and
- When driving on the road a navigation map and in the field guidance path information;
- When conducting road transport, the view from the rear facing cameras replacing the
wing mirrors, and when in the field a 360° bird’s eye view. When reversing, a camera
system provides assistance with maneuvering.
The headliner display is located to the top right hand side of the cab, and has been positioned so
that the operator can view it at a glance. This panoramic display consists of three distinct
- The first screen, on the left, is dedicated to the feed from the viewing cameras which
replace the conventional wing mirrors, together with feeds from implement-mounted
- The second central screen contains less frequently consulted tractor parameters such as
PTO speed, linkage height, hydraulic flow and the lighting package.
- The right hand third screen is dedicated to information feeds. This includes radar weather
data and a standard news feed – designed to assist in making timely business decisions
– together with climate control information and the media package.
It is possible to swipe between the central headliner display and the fix-hub steering wheel cluster
screen, to manage and select key operating parameters, such as lighting requirements or PTO
speed. Once the modification has been made, the operator swipes the screen back up to the
central headliner display panel.
Voice control of key functions enables the operator to keep their hands on the steering wheel at
all times, for maximum safety during operation. These functions include features key to modernday
operator productivity, such as climate control, the tractor’s media system, and mobile phone
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. Only once this has been completed will
the tractor ‘start’ sequence be initiated. The smartphone can also be used to control the rear
linkage, making hitching implements easier, as the operator can stay next to the implement during
the entire hitching sequence.
The methane powered concept tractor also 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.
Combining an advanced operator environment, connected farming, with sustainable and reliable
powertrain technology, which is readily available, for efficient and productive farming, the New
Holland methane powered concept tractor represents a viable future for agricultural technology.
For further information on the methane powered concept tractor, including images, video and
technical information, please visit:bit.ly/methane-powered-concept