The next level of emission standards mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency-Tier 4 Interim for engines 174 hp and higher take effect as the calendar flips to 2011.
Charlie O’Brien Vice President of ag services for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers considers the coming of Tier 4 one of the greatest challenges the industry has faced in many years. “The industry has spent billions of dollars on research and development to come into compliance," says O’Brien. "Some of the companies have spent 50% of their research and development budgets on Tier 4 compliance in the past
few years. These regulations are with good intentions overall, but it hasn’t come without a price."
New engines have also meant new models of machinery. Manufacturers are working toward a common goal, but they are each using different technologies and strategies to meet regulations and phase the new engines into their lineup.
Tier 4 Interim put a fork in the road with engine technologies. In 2009, AGCO Corporation announced its technology path was selective catalytic reduction (SCR) with introduction of the Challenger MT600B and Massey Ferguson 8600 Series tractors.
After the introduction, AGCO also offered another technology path beyond SCR called exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). However, a year after those models were introduced, dealers report SCR orders are running about 75% of sales.
There’s also more than one way manufacturers are reaching compliance. Using government credits, equipment makers can offset their timing to bring models up
to compliance standards.
Matt Hays, Chief Executive Officer of Equipment Technologies says his company has decided to transition their Apache sprayers to Tier 7 Interim by model. “Our 1020 model, which makes up half of our production, will transition as the compliance comes due,” says Hays. “Our other two models, we will use purchased credits with the government to transition those at a later date.”
Manufacturers report that customers are moving forward with machinery purchases. On December 1, Case IH shipped the world's first tractor that meets Tier 4 Interim emissions standards for ag machinery.
Paul Fortkamp and Duane Lennartz, Fort Recovery, Ohio, farmer were the first customers to receive the new Magnum 180 tractor with SCR technology. Fortkamp and Lennartz share equipment and traveled with a representative from their dealer, Hull Brothers, to the Case IH tractor factory in Racine, Wis. Fortkamp raises poultry and grows corn and soybeans.
By the end of November, John Deere officials reported that 2,500 retail orders had been placed for 8R tractors with Tier 4 Interim compliant engines. There are still plenty of machines above the power threshold of 174 hp that have yet to receive new power plants. Watch for them at the winter farm shows.