New Holland unveils its vision of tractor of tomorrow

 

New Holland unveiled the next stage in the development of its methane concept tractor at August’s Farm Progress Show in the US. (PRNewsfoto/CNH Industrial N.V.)

 

CNH Industrial’s New Holland business arm has used the US Farm Progress Show to unveil the next generation of its methane-powered concept tractor, and has taken the opportunity to completely rethink some of the traditional tractor design concepts.

The concept revolves around the possibility of farms becoming completely energy independent, satisfying their own fuel and energy requirements using field-grown and waste products to produce methane.

The tractor’s powerplant uses natural gas technology developed by New Holland’s sister business, FPT Industrial, which has produced more than 30,000 natural gas engines for trucks and buses. Maximum power is 180hp and maximum torque of 740Nm – identical to the equivalent diesel powerplant. In addition to farm-grown energy crops, crop residue and other waste products can be used in an on-farm digester to produce biomethane, a fuel producing virtually no CO2 and 80% fewer emissions. The only after-treatment required is a maintenance-free single standard catalytic converter. Fuel is stored in an integrated structure at the front of the tractor, together with two tanks on the left and right of the machine.

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Beyond its power source, it’s the tractor’s design concepts that are particularly of note.  Wrap-around glazing provides 360-degree visibility, with a 20% increase in the glazed area compared to a standard tractor. A floating domed roof creates a completely panoramic design to aid front loader viewing throughout the entire operational arc, while 360-degree viewing cameras show the surrounding or bird’s-eye view on the fixed hub steering wheel display. When driving on the road this displays a navigation map, while in the field it shows guidance path information. Wireless cameras can also be attached to implements operated by the tractor, for close-up viewing.

A right-hand armrest console is combined with an interactive headliner display, keeping data and information on display yet out of the driver’s eyeline. Particular data required can be ‘swiped’ down to the display in the centre of the steering wheel. The panoramic headliner consists of three distinct sections, with the first dedicated to the feed from the viewing cameras which replace the conventional wing mirrors, together with feeds from implement-mounted wireless cameras. The second central screen contains less frequently-consulted data such as PTO speed, linkage height, hydraulic flow, plus the lighting package. On the right-hand third screen the information displayed includes radar weather data and a news feed for information such as grain market values.

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Methane is stored in tanks at the front and sides of the tractor, which has a maximum power of 180hp and maximum torque of 740Nm – identical to the equivalent diesel powerplant.

 

Voice control of key functions enables the operator to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times. These include the tractor’s climate control, its media system, and mobile phone operation, with smartphone software linking the tractor to the farm office. 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. Further features include a full suite of ‘precision farming’ technologies and elements of autonomous technology, such as automatic detection of obstacles. New Holland says that, while the tractor itself may not enter production in its current form, elements of its technology are likely to be seen on models developed in the near future.

Charles Spencer

About Charles Spencer

Community Manager at Agriaffaires! You will find here all the latest agriculture and farm equipment news!