The technical details are limited, the Lithuania’s largest organic producer has developed a 400hp (294Kw) hybrid tractor. Called the M1, it hides a biomethane-electric drive system.
Developed by the Auga Group, which manages about 39,000ha of organic cereals, root crops and vegetables, and has a 3,400-strong dairy herd, energy generated by the biomethane powered internal combustion engine, which we assume is mated to a generator, is directly transmitted to four electric wheel motors.
Excess energy is stored in batteries for tasks that do not require too much power, for use as an electric power boost when the going gets tougher. The claim is that the M1 can work continuously for up to 12 hours.
The four tyres on the M1 are all of the size 900/60 R 42.
The organic farming company reckons its hybrid solution solves a limiting factor of biomethane-powered tractors in that they can only work for up to four hours before having to stop to refill the storage bottles.
“Our engineers have found solutions to solve the re-fueling problem and ensure the uninterrupted operation of the tractor,” comments CEO Kęstutis Juščius of the Auga Group.
Carried at the rear of the tractor, the six biomethane storage bottles can apparently quickly be replaced when empty.
Auga Group CEO Kęstutis Juščius reckons the M1 will play an important role in helping the company to become CO2 neutral by 2030.
The choice of biomethane as an alternative fuel was no accident. “It is one of the greenest biofuels,” adds Mr Juščius. “Methane collected from livestock waste and converted into biomethane compensates for more emissions per unit of energy than it emits in its production and recovery cycle.”
Looking ahead, the company’s goal is to make the tractor, and other technologies still in development, available to other farms. It will be interesting to see whether they will seek help from a tractor manufacturer to produce the 400hp tractor.