New Holland Energy Independent Farm

Energy Indepedent Farm and NH²™ Tractor - New Holland Announces Establishment of Pilot Farm

  • Winner of the 2009 SIMA Gold Medal, the Energy Independent Farm and the NH²™ tractor project has been chosen, together with its 13 consortium partners, among the top projects in the programme "Industry 2015 – New technologies for Made in Italy” promoted and funded by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development 
  • A NH2™ hydrogen-powered prototype will become operational at La Bellotta Farm in Venaria (Turin) by the third quarter 2011
  • Hydrogen will be experimentally generated using electricity from photovoltaic panels and via the steam methane reforming of a new 1MW biogas plant inaugurated on the farm in early August

Through its Clean Energy Leader strategy, New Holland has earned a reputation as the most dedicated and proactive agricultural machinery brand in the field of environmental protection and sustainable farming.

New Holland is a pioneer in the promotion and use of biodiesel since 2006. Currently, 85% of the entire product range can run on 100% biodiesel.

New Holland is already marketing the industry's widest range of Tier 4A compliant products, boasting 20 tractors and six combine models.

The brand has also announced the establishment, on the outskirts of Turin, of the first pilot Energy Independent Farm equipped with New Holland NH2™ tractors.

A double awarded-winning project

Winner of the Gold medal at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009, and the only one of its kind in the world, the extraordinary NH2™ tractor, powered by fuel cells and with zero emissions, has generated tremendous interest and attention among the agricultural community and all those concerned with sustainable farming.

The Energy Independent Farm concept centres on the capacity of farms to produce electrical energy from natural sources with low environmental impact, storing it in the form of hydrogen and reusing it easily.

The highly innovative content of the project (from a technological, energy and environmental standpoint, as well as its full compliance with EU targets for renewable energy), has earned it a place among the top projects in the programme "Industry 2015 – New technologies for Made in Italy”, which is promoted by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development.

As a result of this prestigious accolade, New Holland, together with 13-partner consortium including Elasis, Envi-Park, ENEA, CNR, Verderone, Tonutti, API-COM, CRF, Ferrari Costruzioni Meccaniche, Roter Italia, Sapio and Zefiro, will be funded by the Ministry for approximately half of the around 11 million Euros total investment to develop the new second-generation NH2™ tractors.

The first pilot farm

The practical trial will begin at La Bellotta Farm in Venaria, a few kilometres outside of Turin. By the end of 2011 the farm will see the introduction of the first of New Holland’s second-generation NH2™ tractors, which will be used to trial electrical-powered implements such as seed drills, planters, transplanters and spreaders.

The NH2™ hydrogen-powered tractor uses fuel cell technology to generate electricity that powers its electric drive motor; on-board auxiliary apparatus and even electrical tilling implements. Based on the New Holland T6000 tractor, the model in operation at La Bellotta will have three fuel cells with a total power output of 100 kW.

Within the project’s framework, various methods of producing the hydrogen that fuels the NH²™ tractor will be evaluated, including electricity produced from renewable sources to the most innovative ‘reduced’ scale steam methane reforming process.

The first case will involve electrolysis using the electricity produced by the farm’s existing photovoltaic plant. The second method, if proven to be feasible and economically sound, will use methane supplied by the digesters of the 1 MW biogas plant that recently began operating at La Bellotta.

Besides producing hydrogen and covering the total energy needs of the farm, the plant will be able to feed enough electricity into the national grid to meet the daily power requirements of around 10,000 people.

"We chose La Bellotta,” says Riccardo Morselli of New Holland Innovation and Product Development, "because its sustainable energy development programmes tied in perfectly with the Energy Independent Farm concept and gave us the chance to demonstrate that the hydrogen-powered tractor is not, as some sceptics claim, a simple style exercise, but a reality that will change the future face and impact of world farming.”

To enable the operation of NH2™ tractors, the farm will be equipped with a hydrogen storage tank and a special filling station complete with a compressor.

La Bellotta: precursors of sustainable farming

Established in the mid-1950s, La Bellotta Farm has gradually expanded to its current size of 400 hectares: It has 100 hectares of coppice woodland managed for the production of firewood; 25 hectares of quality wood plantations for the production of timber; and around 250 hectares under cultivation for the production of maize, sorghum and triticale for the biogas plant.

Another 40 hectares are cultivated with organic soil management and provide fodder for the 9000 hens that lay organic eggs for a leading brand.

"We have always believed in sustainable and organic farming,” says the farm’s owner Luca Remmert, "and were among the first in this area to practice minimum and no-till farming - and to carry out waste sorting and used oil collection, well before they became compulsory.”

In 1994, La Bellotta began moving towards renewable energy production, trialling various crops such as beet, sunflower, flax and rape. In 2007 the farm installed a 3,000m2 photovoltaic plant with an output of 180 kW.

"The cereals that we grow cover the total annual amount of biomass needed to feed the plant,” continues Remmert, "On top of this are products derived from mowing and the manure from our hens, which is vital for the process of converting biomass into methane in the plant’s two digesters.

"The cycle closes when we use up the 15,000 tonnes of digestate generated yearly as a by-product of the process, which makes excellent fertiliser for our fields. The surplus heat is used for the impending construction of a remote heating network to supply the surrounding industrial area with heat for technical uses.”

The farm already has a fleet of New Holland tractors including a T7070 Auto Command™; a T6090; a T6070 Elite; a T6020 Elite and a T4050. It has seized on the chance to be the first to test the NH2™ hydrogen-powered model under actual working conditions.

"For us’” says Luca Remmert, "it represents the fulfilment of a dream that began many years ago and which has come true little by little: Practising sustainable and organic farming, being energy self-sufficient and now, with the New Holland NH2™ tractor, achieving the target of zero emissions.”

Full information regarding New Holland’s NH2™ hydrogen-powered tractor, Energy Independent Farm concept and Clean Energy Leader strategy are available on the new website

New Holland Agriculture has offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced as a result of the transport, energy and paper consumed during the Press Conference. AzzeroCO₂, an Italian company based in Rome, made all the necessary calculations to quantify the emissions produced during the event, which add up to 29 tonnes of CO2, and has guaranteed to effectively offset this carbon. The carbon credits are purchased on the voluntary market and are generated via CO2 absorption through forestation. They are recorded and avoided on a proper registry and are assigned to every avoided tonne of CO2. New Holland Agriculture has chosen a forestry project located in the Piedmont region, of which Turin is the capital.