Last week, New Holland dealers M&S Machinery, based in Cashel, Co Tipperary, delivered the first alternatively fuelled tractors to be sold in Ireland.

The two T6.180 Methane Power units were purchased by the Kildare-based business, Green Generation, and are already at work alongside an existing fleet of biomethane-powered vans and HGVs within its anaerobic digestion (AD) business in Nurney.

The tractors have replaced diesel models and will primarily be used to pull tandem-axle slurry tankers for the transportation of digestate to local farms for application on tillage land, as a form of organic fertiliser.

Commenting on the deal, David Kavanagh, business development manager at Green Generation, explained: “The purchase of these two biogas tractors was the natural progression for the business.

“Not only will transitioning away from diesel reduce fuel costs, but carbon emissions too, as we strive towards carbon neutrality and a more circular economy within Green Generation.

“Meanwhile, we will demonstrate the capabilities of the tractors as we deliver digestate to local farmers with the vision that they one day will adopt biomethane as a viable alternative to diesel.”

George Mills, alternative fuels manager with New Holland, who was heavily involved in demonstrating the T6.180 Methane Power, said:

“It’s been a great pleasure to supply Ireland’s first methane-powered tractors to Green Generation through local dealer M&S Machinery.

“Not only will these tractors be negating the use of fossil fuels, but they will be run on gas created from 100% waste material, enabling Green Generation tractor work to become ‘carbon negative’, whilst still matching the performance of a diesel-powered tractor.”

Methane Power

While other manufacturers are looking towards electric and other alternatives to fossil fuels, the truth is, New Holland was the first large-scale manufacturer to offer a commercially available solution within the 150hp-180hp category in the form of its T6.180 Methane Power tractor in 2021.

In total, there are over 100 units working across Europe, most of which are working within AD facilities or in close proximity based on access to biomethane.

The slow development and lack of infrastructure in most EU countries is a major factor limiting the true sales potential.

Both the gas and diesel variant use a 6.7l FPT NEF six-cylinder engine. The only differences lie within the fuelling system and top-half of the engine to suit the gas combustion process. Rated and maximum powers remain the same at 145hp and 175hp.

A three-way catalyst replaces the complex exhaust gas after-treatment system, and the associated AdBlue requirement of most modern Stage V tractors.

In total, the T6.180 Methane Power has the capability of carrying 185l (32kg) of gas on board, which can be further increased by 270l (47kg) using the front-mounted range extender, taking total gas capacity up to 455l (79kg).

The refuelling process can be done in as little as six minutes.

While Green Generation will be running the tractors on biomethane of 95% purity as this is the requirement for injection into the national network, the tractors can run on gas with a minimum of 83% purity.

According to New Holland, emissions reductions of up to 80% compared to the latest Stage V compliant diesel can be achieved.

Listing at €210,650 plus VAT (each), the T6.180 Methane Power is priced 25% above the traditional diesel alternative.

The increase is cited to be a result of the lengthy R&D process, and the tanks and associated componentry required for the handling of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), as opposed to a moulded plastic diesel tank and low-pressure fuel lines.

Green Generation

In addition to operating the AD plant, which is fed using agricultural and food waste materials, Green Generation in conjunction with Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) runs the only onshore gas injection facility currently within Ireland.

Since first entering commerical production late in 2021, the first two New Holland T6.180 Methan Power tractors have now been sold in Ireland to Green Generation based in Nurney, Co Kildare.

Not only is food waste used within gas production, but the associated packaging is 100% recycled by its sister company, Paltech, to manufacture livestock drinkers, flower pots and road barriers, etc.

Green Generation told the Irish Farmers Journal that while it is geared up to sell Bio-CNG to local customers, it is looking at potentially providing a service whereby it could hire the New Holland biogas tractors and supply the fuel to customers through a hire agreement.