There's a kind of "environmental" clock ticking for farm equipment makers and it's one where the alarm goes off January 2011. That's when the Interim Tier 4 emissions rules go into effect for engines over 175 horsepower and will require a pretty significant reduction in both particulates and nitrous oxide emissions from off-highway equipment.
Each major manufacturer is moving ahead with its own strategy in this area, but you should keep in mind that this stage truly is "interim" and that in 2014 a "final" Tier 4 standard takes place that's even more stringent for off-highway machines.
On-highway equipment makers have are already meeting these tougher standards and in most cases they've made the engine changes needed to hit those environmental targets. For many, that has meant the incorporation of selective catalytic reduction, which uses a diesel exhaust fluid system injected into the emission stream to meet the tougher environmental standard. This fluid is already available from a number of sources, including dealers offering the new-generation engines.
For off-highway makers, there are interim and final choices, and it looks like most of the majors have set their course for interim rules. Of course Agco Corporation is already offering its DEF solution for Tier 3 engines, which means the company is plowing the new territory of using the added fluid to improve final emissions. Agco's equipment has seen significant improvements in fuel economy with the new approach as its Nebraska test data bears out.
For 2011, Agco moves ahead with its interim Tier 4 strategy, but it's already on track with the its current approach.
For Deere, the newest engines using cooled exhaust gas recirculation are already hitting new fuel-saving and efficiency targets. To achieve interim Tier 4 emissions levels, the company continues on this course along with the addition of an advanced diesel particulate filter to trap exhaust particulates.
That filter is an active system that's self cleaning and won't need much attention from you until 5,000 hours or higher. There are issues if you run equipment in very cold temperatures, because the filter may not get hot enough to clean out the particulates, but there are active systems to manage for that as well.
Cummins - maker of diesels for Buhler Versatile and others - is moving ahead with its DPF approach too. The company also uses an active filter system and cooled exhaust gas recirculation to improve combustion and emissions.
Case IH and New Holland, are moving forward with SCR for engines over 100 hp and cooled exhaust gas recirculation for engines below 100 hp. The company notes that using SCR may offer advantages of longer service intervals, lower fuel consumption and wider fuel compatibility when compared to CEGR systems. The company notes its early move to SCR for these standards puts it ahead, acknowledging that all industry players are looking at the technology for final Tier 4 compliance.
Equipment purchasing isn't going to be more complicated, you'll still buy based on performance and the jobs you want done. However, work with your dealer to understand the emission solutions chosen by the companies you like to work with, so you are set up to run when the new tractor rolls into your farm yard.
We'll be covering this topic during 2010 as the time for the standard approaches. If you have questions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll track down the answers.