New technology is always a big topic of discussion at the KMOT Ag Expo, and nothing was bigger this year than Tier 4 engines.
New government regulations have mandated more efficient engines producing less emissions starting with the 2011 model year, and several manufacturers have been using the Ag Expo to show their solutions to potential customers and anyone else interested in learning more about the wave that's ready to sweep across the entire agriculture industry.
There are two different methods to tackle the new emissions standards - Exhaust Gas Recirculation and Selective Catalytic Reduction.
John Deere has chosen to go with EGR, and Larry Herslip, a sales rep with Gooseneck Implement, said it offers several advantages over SCR. EGR engines don't use a mixture of chemical urea and purified water, called Diesel Exhaust Fluid, to clean the emissions, and the engine's combustion temperature is cooler. There is also a replaceable self-cleaning filter that is cleaned by an injection of diesel fuel.
"Of course we think we have the best system," Herslip said.
While most of the industry is going with SCR technology, Herslip said John Deere chose EGR because of the cooler combustion temperatures and simplicity of design. Unlike with the competing technology's use of the DEF mixture of urea and water, John Deere's engines have no second liquid to bother with in addition to diesel fuel.
"(Diesel) pickups are doing the same thing," Herslip said. "Whether it be Cummins, Dodge or General Motors."
Herslip also said John Deere's GPS guidance systems are getting better every year. Its system uses a combination of satellites and ground-based towers to provide accuracy within an inch or so. With more towers going up all the time, the coverage of the system will only get better, he said.
Herslip said guidance systems are often at the top of his customers' wish lists, and it's something just about every new piece of equipment is purchased with.
"Anybody that buys a new sprayer is probably going to get it," Herslip said. "And any of our combines, air seeders, oh yeah."
Darryl Priel, product specialist for tractor marketing at Case IH, said Tier 4 engines are quickly becoming a huge deal in the industry. He said Case IH introduced the first tractor with a Tier 4 engine, the Magnum 180 CVT, to the market.
Unlike John Deere, Case IH uses the SCR technology. Priel said John Deere's method basically takes a Tier 3 engine, which has pollution controls, and makes it more efficient, while Case IH takes a Tier 2 engine, which has no pollution controls, and adds emission-cleaning pieces to it. Both engines produce cleaner emissions, they just go about it in different ways.
As if that weren't complicated enough, Priel said these new 2011 engines are actually Tier 4A, or Interim Tier 4 as John Deere calls them. The final emission regulations will take effect in 2014, by which time Tier 4B engines that meet the even tougher standards will be required.
Priel said the two pollutants the new regulations restrict are particulate matter, which is basically black smoke, and nitrous oxide.
"So we have to contain that," Priel said.
The DEF mixture Case IH uses is non-toxic, colorless and odorless. It is sprayed into the exhaust and breaks it down into water vapor and nitrogen, two substances that occur naturally in the atmosphere. Since DEF is 67 percent purified water and only 33 percent urea, it can freeze. This is why there is a system in place that will warm the mixture on cold days.
"So as the engine warms up, that heat is transferred into the coolant, the coolant is circulated through the heat exchanger inside this (DEF) tank," Priel said. "So if this DEF is frozen it will begin to melt."
Priel said on average users will go through one tank of DEF for every two tanks of fuel, with two units of DEF being used for every unit of diesel. This means while the DEF is an added input expense, it remains cost neutral since the DEF takes the place of some of the diesel.
Priel said one worry farmers have is running out of DEF in the middle of a field. He said the engine will sense this and cut its horespower until the tractor can be driven back home for a refill. This horespower reduction does absolutely no damage to the engine and is perfectly safe, according to Priel.
He also noted that while the combustion temperatures are higher than the competition, the exhaust temperatures are lower, which will be important when the engines make their way into combines.
Other advantages Priel mentioned are less frequent oil changes with the SRC engines Case IH uses as well as better fuel efficiency.
At the Butler Machinery booth, Chad Richter, ag sales, said their new Lexion combine series by Claas features some new tech customers are interested in. It features a new cab that has more square footage, which equals more room for the operator and more user friendliness. There is also a new hydraulic system, track system and residue management system, along with a new telematics system and draper head.
The track option in place of the front wheels also offers a new suspension system.
"We've always had tracks," Richter said. "This is a new suspension system in the track."
He noted front tracks in place of wheels is an option more and more farmers are opting for due to the wet falls North Dakota has had in the last few years.
Richter said they have had quite a bit of interest in the new combines, and he enjoys talking to customers about all the new features they offer and anything else that might be on their minds while they're at Ag Expo.
"It's a joy to come out here and meet guys and say hello," Richter said. "I could never go around and see all these guys in the amount of time I'm here for three days."