New tractors will have to meet EPA clean air regulations.



New emissions standards are now in effect for tractors with more than 175 horsepower.

As of January 1st, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Interim Tier 4 standards apply to off-road equipment. The full Tier 4 standards will be implemented in 2014.

The standards limit the amount of particulate matter and nitrous oxide that can be emitted by a machine. The interim standards for 2011 require a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter and a 50 percent reduction in nitrous oxide from the Tier 3 standards.

Werner Dueck of Enns Brothers explains most manufacturers have chosen one of two systems to meet the standards.

"Manufacturers are going with either the EGR system or the SCR system," he explains.

The EGR or exhaust gas recirculation system uses a lower combustion temperature in the engine which results in lower nitrous oxide levels. However, with a lower temperature, particulate matter (or PM) levels are increased. "That particulate matter is then treated in the exhaust with a diesel particulate filter as well as an oxidation process," explains Dueck.

"The SCR is system is kind of opposite," he says. "It controls particulate matter in the engine by using a higher combustion temperature."

However, with higher engine temperatures come increase levels of nitrous oxide (or NOx). The NOx is treated in the exhaust system using a diesel exhaust fluid, which converts it into water and nitrogen. The diesel exhaust fluid requires a separate tank on the tractor, which a farmer will refill every time the tractor is re-fueled.

John Deere, Versatile, Caterpillar, Cummins and Deutz are among the companies that have chosen to use the EGR system while Case IH, New Holland, Agco and other companies are using the SCR system.

The companies using EGR say the system is superior since users are not required to fill up two fluid tanks when refueling. Farmers can also avoid the complications related to having the extra tank for diesel exhaust fluid, which freezes at -11 Celsius. They also say the system is fuel efficent and durable for off-road applications, such as field work.

However, proponents of the SCR system say it results in increased power and a noticeable improvement in fuel efficiency, as the hotter engine extracts more energy from each litre of diesel. Case IH says EGR "uses more fuel, leads to hotter engine temperatures and requires more maintenance."

So what will this mean for the price of tractors?

Industry insiders have been quoted as saying prices could rise as much as 22 percent, with many expecting prices will rise by between 5 and 15 percent.

"I can't speak for the competitors, but as far as Deere is concerned, basically they're just expanding on a system that they already had, so while there will be some cost increases, we don't expect it to be huge," says Dueck.

~ Monday, January 10, 2011 ~