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New from Agritechnica

Hydrogen tractor

FOR THE first time, New Holland exhibited its futuristic tractor that is powered by hydrogen. The company first revealed a prototype of the new tractor, called the H2, last summer.

“This tractor has been developed in Italy with the Fiat family [which owns New Holland],” explains Ulrich Weller of New Holland in Germany. “We have good opportunities to share with colleagues in cars and trucks where fuel cells already are used. So it is a little step for us to go to a tractor with a fuel cell for hydrogen.”

Hydrogen holds big promise as a future fuel because it is readily available and its emissions amount to only water vapor. However, the drawback is cost. “Fuel cells have a huge cost and it is an issue,” Weller says.

In spite of the cost, New Holland wants to be ready to build hydrogen tractors if the technology becomes less expensive.

Germany, we believe we must look for alternative resources and fuels and we think hydrogen is one possibility,” Weller says. The company hopes to test hydrogen tractors on German farms within the next few years. Ideally, the farms will use solar or biogas to produce the hydrogen needed for the H2 tractor.

Watch a video about the tractors and new combines at

Antilock brakes on tractors

ANTILOCK BRAKING system (ABS) technology that's employed in automobiles is now being launched in tractors. Case IH exhibited the company's new ABS technology on a Puma tractor model that reaches road speeds of up to 40 mph.

“Customers have increasing demands to travel at higher speeds and to achieve that with increased safety,” reports Michael Gillen, Case IH global product marketing. He says Case IH's design for ABS works with the conventional tractor brakes. Plus, new features have been added that have not been seen on ABS, especially on agricultural equipment.

“We call our system the automatic-steer-by-brakes system,” he adds. “It allows customers to turn tighter on headlands without the disadvantages seen by ABS. In normal ABS, vehicles make a compromise because there's only one brake pedal. On our system, we retain the dual-pedal system so we steer the tractor in two ways.”

Another feature of the Case IH ABS system is referred to as “hill holder.” ABS will apply brakes just as an operator disengages the clutch to keep the tractor from rolling down a hill uncontrolled. The ABS also offers the opposite feature, called “drive away.” This feature allows brakes to be disengaged with clutch intake to allow a tractor to drive away.


John Deere displayed its new ActiveCommand Steering system, also known as steer-by-wire. “It has only been used in airplanes like Boeing and in Formula One,” says Roland Forster, John Deere product line manager. “It is a fully electronic system that gives operators more control over the vehicle especially at high speeds of 25 to 40 mph.”

ActiveCommand actively intervenes in steering through a controller. A driver will feel some feedback at the steering wheel during driving maneuvers. But the intervention improves driving safety and comfort. This system eliminates the uncontrollable oversteering that sometimes occurs when a driver takes fast evasive action.

Forster says, overall, steering will be very precise with ActiveCommand and should make steering easier with less turns of the wheel at places like the headlands.

John Deere will introduce ActiveCommand in the North American and European tractor markets in 2011.

Agritechnica awarded Deere a gold medal for innovation for Active Command. See video of the new sprayer at

Fast tire adjustment

A NEW on-the-go tire pressure adjustment system makes switching tire pressure from field to road much easier. AGCO designed the system and showed it on the Fendt 900 Vario tractor at Agritechnica.

The tractor operator can push a switch and the tire pressure on the tractor wheels is automatically adjusted for fieldwork or road travel. It takes about seven minutes to build tire pressure and just two minutes to reduce the pressure. A tire pressure system with a modified compressor is installed on the tractor. Control of the system is integrated into the electronic terminal.

LED lighting

LOTS OF LED lights showed up on new equipment at Agritechnica. But the most surprising place for the high-tech lights was on a sprayer boom. Amazone, a large German sprayer company, installed LED lights at each nozzle on a spray boom. Why? During night spraying, a farmer can quickly spot a malfunctioning nozzle with an LED light on it. This allows farmers the option to spray in the evening and night when winds are low to prevent sprayer drift.

Canola oil engine

DEUTZ-FAHR now offers an engine that will let farmers use canola oil or regular diesel fuel to power the tractor engine. Farmers who raise canola can process it for oil and use the oil for fuel.

The engine is designed to work for tractors of 130 to 200 hp. The new engine takes about 7% more canola oil than diesel fuel to power it. It is offered as an option, costing about $6,000 to $7,000 more than a regular diesel fuel engine.

However, fuel prices have dropped, and Stephan Bissinger, Deutz-Fahr product marketing, says demand for the alternative fuel engine also has dropped. He expects that, if fuel prices climb again, the engine will be in greater demand.

The engine is designed to work for tractors of 130 to 200 hp. Bissinger says the new engine takes about 7% more canola oil than diesel fuel to power the engine.

See video of new New Holland's hydrogen tractor at

See video of ABS and ActiveCommand at

See video of these products from Agritechnica at

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