THE FIRST pre-development of its low carbon tractor (LoCT) has been unveiled by New Holland, at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2019, which took place at Millbrook, Bedfordshire.

This is a first result of the LoCT project, partly funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC UK) and led by the global giant CNH Industrial and its agricultural brand, New Holland and powertrain specialist, FPT Industrial.

The aim is to produce a commercially viable tractor capable of operation on biomethane, while complying with the latest European and US emission standards. New Holland and FPT Industrial – both of which have pioneered natural gas traction for more than 20 years – are partnering with Eminox, an exhaust after-treatment technology specialist, Zircotec, a thermal management and ceramic coating specialist, and Ricardo, an engineering consultant specialising in technology, project innovation and strategy.

Sean Lennon, New Holland’s head of tractor product management, stated: “The LoCT project fits within New Holland’s pioneering work in the use of alternative fuels in agriculture.

"In collaboration with our partners, we aim to develop a commercially viable tractor that can operate on sustainable locally sourced biomethane. This is the vital link that closes the virtuous cycle of the 'Energy Independent Farm', which sees farmers producing fuel from waste products, taking sustainability all the way to possible carbon neutrality.

"APC funding is critical to ensuring the commercialisation of a truly sustainable low carbon and fully practical tractor in the UK – it is enabling us to take an earlier innovation further towards a fully commercial solution.”

Eminox's expertise of specific exhaust systems to fit in the available vehicle space envelope, brings with it extensive experience developed while working with CNH Industrial in the heavy-duty application of gas engines in commercial vehicles.

Another partner, Zircotec – originally spun out of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and now operating independently ­– will use its expertise managing the heat generated by the gas engine in tractors, which is considerably higher than in an equivalent diesel engine.

Finally, Ricardo is providing engineering support for the integration of the gas engine, fuel tanks, exhaust system and associated parts into the current New Holland agricultural tractor offering, said Mr Lennon.

* Following CNH Industrial’s announcement of its agreement to acquire AgDNA, a leader in farm management information systems (FMIS), New Holland is to offer customers a new method of single point data integration, mapping and analytical tools.

Paired with New Holland’s fleet management telematics, this will allow the consolidation of a wide range of agronomic data streams, arising from a range of inputs such as machine, agronomic and third party data – including crop prices and weather information – into a single platform.

This open platform works across data sources and brands, it effectively standardises all data inputs, making it possible for mixed fleet owners to view all data in a uniform manner in one place.

This is expected to filter into the brand from now on, initially in North America, before being applied globally.