We're three years from full implementation of the final level - Tier 4b (or Tier 4 final) - emission standards for high-horsepower off-highway equipment. Companies are just launching their Tier 4a or Tier 4 interim machines across their lines this year (we see plenty here at the 2011 Farm Progress Show) yet at least one company is confirming its final strategy for emissions.
At a media event during the show Tuesday night, Case IH confirmed that selective catalytic reduction technology will be the exclusive approach the company will take to meet those final emission standards. In a press statement, Kyle Russell, senior director of marketing, Case IH North America comments: "We've spent eyars preparing for the final stage of off-road governmental emissions regulations in 2014. Everyone in the industry knew this dramatic reduction in air pollutants was being phased in over time." The final rules demand a 90% reduction in particulate matter and nitrogen oxides compared to Tier 3 requirements - tough target to hit.
This prototype Magnum 370 CVT is headed to market in late 2012 and is the largest in the Magnum line. While it doesn't sport the 2014 final emissions standards, it will use SCR technology to meet current standards. Case IH has confirmed an SCR-only approach to meet the toughest regs that go into effect in three years.
However, Russell says Case IH made the choice several years ago to focus on SCR technology "because it allows us to meet those most stringent emissions standards while still offering efficient power and responsive performance."
The approach requires the use of diesel exhaust fluid, often called DEF, for daily operation. Usually you fill a DEF tank every other fuel fill up - depending on the load the engine is under. Case IH notes that with SCR technology, the company can tune the engines for maximum power and efficiency because the approach eliminates NOx after it exits the engine but before it leaves the exhaust pipe.
The company also says their approach does not require a particulate filter, or the need for cooled exhaust gas recirculation - technologies deployed by one major competitor. FPT Powertrain Technologies, the Case IH SCR engine supplier is already meeting final Tier 4 requirements for the on-road truck industry and that expertise is being put to work for Big Red.
Not sure I considered the idea that major equipment makers would enter a competitive dual over emission technologies yet here it is. And Case IH is serious about its approach. The company has gone as far as mentioning competitors in public relations releases when noting its approach to interim Tier 4 standards (that's where this SCR fight started).
Other manufacturers remain close-lipped about their approach to those final Tier 4 standards and how they'll meet them. You could almost guess from earlier announcements how Case IH would go. Agco also has an SCR-focused approach. New Holland, part of the CNH family, is pursuing an SCR approach for interim Tier 4 and has not announced its final strategy. As for Deere, well they're the target of all this particulate filter/cooled exhaust gas recirculation talk.
As is true most often in this market, the customer will be the final arbiter of this contest. Talking to at least one farmer at the Case IH event, however, offers some potential insight. He notes they're not concerned about DEF tanks and SCR on their farms since new pickups they've purchased already require using the fluid. They're seeing better engine performance and fuel mileage on those pickups with the tech, and in testing prototype Case IH tractors he likes what he's seen.
As for potential buyers, it still comes down to the dealer you do business with and the support you get. The machines out there will get the job done and you've got more top quality equipment choices than perhaps any time in history. If you're opening up the checkbook (or the equipment loan) for new machinery, you've got plenty of choices.