Imagination for Mechanization

Armed with a history of innovation in agricultural equipment, New Holland is poised to play a significant role in the expanding biomass industry.
By Anna Simet | August 06, 2014

When the world’s largest biomass-fueled power plant, the E.On station in Lockerbie, Scotland, receives its chopped willow coppice fuel on site, it has been efficiently harvested and prepared by a New Holland FR9080. With productivity maximization in mind, the team at New Holland designed its FB130 willow header to double harvesting acreage achieved by existing market models, enabling yields of up to 10.2 metric tons of dry matter per hectare.

In Northern Italy’s Turin, at the La Bellotta farm, a second generation NH2 hydrogen-powered tractor is utilized in the field. While fueled with hydrogen, a 1-MW onsite biogas plant produced the methane that was converted into fuel to power the machine.

In Guragon, near Delhi, India, A2Z Maintenance & Engineering is currently operating a fleet of 105 New Holland tractors, 45 conventional balers, 15 rakes and two mowers. At this operation,  waste left in paddy, cotton, corn and oilseed rape fields is harvested—rather than burned in the field—for production of 45 MW of electricity at three separate biomass power projects in the Punjab region.

And in Brazil, New Holland has partnered with Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, or the Sugar Cane Technology Center, to utilize a whole range of New Holland equipment—tractors, windrowers, large square balers and bale accumulators—to bale sugar cane straw at two test farms. Not just for conversion to ethanol, but also for transformation into energy at power plants.

While New Holland began to quietly examine and seize opportunities to assist the biomass industry several years ago, it was just recently that the company began a push to showcase its global involvement in woody biomass and agriculture projects, according to Scott Wangsgard, biomass marketing specialist.  Along with its massive fleet of equipment, the company touts its Clean Energy Leader strategy, a way of thinking that Wangsgard says drives many things, from lowering its machines’ carbon footprints to maximizing plant and fuel efficiency. For example, New Holland’s large square boiler requires 16 percent less fuel than similar machines on the market. “It’s all about smart design,” Wangsgard says. “It’s just better for everybody.”

While most farmers are experts when it comes to selecting the kind of equipment they need, Wangsgard emphasizes that acquiring appropriate machinery can make or break an operation. “[The biomass industry] isn’t operating on huge margins right now, so anything that increases efficiency helps. If you can cut down on the cost of your machinery going in, that’s huge, as well as getting the right machinery for the right job.

 For that purpose, evaluating similar past or ongoing projects may be of great value. Wangsgard gives the example of corn stover. “What’s the best way to harvest it? There are good opportunities to look around and see what other people have done and are doing, and then determine ways to improve it.”

New Holland dealers are well-trained and continually brought up-to-speed on machinery for biomass operations to assist farmers becoming familiar with equipment or features. “We have service training for technicians and sales associates—just a few months ago, we had a sales training on forage harvesters out in California,” Wangsgard says. “Dealers send their staff out there to see the machines run and perform certain tasks.”

Many companies are increasingly targeting the biomass industry for business, but Wangsgard says that there are a few things that set New Holland apart. “One thing that’s unique about us, as far as different options or ways to go, is that we offer everything from a forage harvester to corn rower attachment, a complete line of everything that people are using right now in biomass.”

 Wangsgard says New Holland’s large square balers are very popular, especially for cellulosic projects. “They’re very efficient, don’t take much horsepower compared to competitor units, save on fuel, and their knotter reliability has been incredible. We spent a lot of time and effort on that—if those piles are set up correctly, knots can be tied without misses. That’s a very good thing for biomass.”

Author: Anna Simet
Managing Editor: Biomass Magazine