Taking a look at the future of tractor engine power


A diesel-powered engine is pretty powerful and much cleaner running than it used to be, but over the years has gotten a bad name. Lately, both the Biden and Trudeau governments have been pushing the climate agenda, and, in regards to farm equipment, the push to biodiesel and alternative power sources is evident in their plans.

“Not all internal combustion engines are bad, and not all batteries are good,” said Curt Blades, senior vice president of Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), in a recent RealAg LIVE! episode.

There’s a push to move towards zero-emission battery systems and alternative sources of power, and Blades thinks it’s a conversation that needs to happen. However, for larger equipment, like tractors, combines, bulldozers, or cranes — batteries might not be the best solution, considering the product lifecycle.

AEM represents all off-road equipment manufacturers, and as he notes, this conversation isn’t just happening in agricultural equipment, but construction, too.

“All of these conversations around climate change and environmental stewardship, our members are smack-dab in the centre of it, because we’re part of the solution,” says Blades. (Story continues below player).

Regarding the EPA’s possible move from Tier 4 to Tier 5 emissions standards, Blades isn’t convinced that moving to a Tier 5 will satisfy the those pushing for higher emissions standards. “We have to be prepared to look at the next generation of power sources,” says Blades. “We have to be prepared to have those conversations.”

It’s one thing to have a 400 km range with a small electric vehicle, and it’s another to pull a 60 foot drill and air cart through a field. Methane and hydrogen-powered options, as well as technologies that may not be finalized yet, will all be part of the solution, likely. Some adjacent industries will see some mandates pushed on them as well — railroads for instance, by 2035, will be operating without internal combustion engines, adds Blades.

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