Tractor manufacturers are looking at ways to improve sustainability 

As agriculture continues to evolve, more and more effort and awareness is being put into “greener” and more sustainable farming practices.

Producers are implementing no-till practices, rotationally grazing their livestock to reduce inputs and sequester more carbon, direct marketing their products to reduce food mileage – the list goes on, and includes the tractor industry making strides in producing more environmentally friendly machinery.

John Deere is one company making a push toward a “greener world” through the company’s Environmental Stewardship Goals.

One of those company goals is a commitment to sustainable products.

To bring product sustainability to life, John Deere has developed a Life Cycle Assessment methodology through which the company looks for ways to reduce the environmental footprint for a product during its entire life cycle while also improving performance and durability.

Some of the ways John Deere is incorporating their methodology into their farm equipment products include manufacturing Gator parts that contain PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is sourced from recycled bottles, setting a specific requirement for the percentage of post-consumer recycled content in the steel used to manufacture products, incorporating soybeans and corn in the manufacture of composite side panels for John Deere S-Series combines, and working to minimize part weight, save material, and reduce soil compaction through computational analysis.

John Deere is also working on incorporating electric motors into some of their larger equipment to create fuel efficient hybrids.

New Holland has developed a methane powered concept tractor that captures their vision for a sustainable future of farming.

Designed to reduce agriculture’s dependency on fossil fuels, this tractor can be powered by biomethane created by fermenting waste plant and food products, giving these otherwise unusable products a second life. The idea is that the tractor can be powered by energy created on a farmer’s own land.

The concept tractor, according to New Holland, will reduce running costs by up to 30 percent, has an approximately 50 percent reduction in drive-by noise, and has the same power and torque as its diesel equivalent.

The use of sensors on tractors to determine things like forage height, moisture levels, nitrogen levels, and so on is becoming more mainstream to help producers make management choices that allow precision inputs and are in the best interest of the environment.

Some farmers with smaller operations are taking their diesel-powered tractors and with a little ingenuity, converting them to electric for smaller crop plots.

The next few years promise to be interesting and innovative as the tractor industry continues to create more sustainable and adaptive technology.

John Deere and New Holland are not alone in their efforts to make agriculture a little more “green.”

Other manufactories, including Case IH and Kubota, are working to develop models that utilize track systems that help reduce soil compaction and reduce emissions.


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