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Agricultural land is increasingly being processed mechanically to remove weeds. This is a consequence of stricter legislation that restricts the use of plant protection products. It leads to an increase in diesel consumption.
Editorial office / Rostock

The German ‘Lehrstuhl für Kolbenmaschinen und Verbrennungsmotoren’ from the University of Rostock states that a total amount of 1.6 million tons of diesel is used per year in agriculture. This amount is likely to increase due to the high energy needs of plowing and the use of combination machines for field treatment. Tractors usually run on diesel because of the high energy density of this fuel. An acceptable alternative, such as electricity, is not yet available.

According to the researchers, this means that agriculture will have to produce and use its own energy, just like centuries ago. The use of biodiesel made from rapeseed oil is then obvious. This standardized fuel (DIN EN 14214) can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60%. Also, the fuel is usually readily biodegradable.

Technology requirements

Together with tractor manufacturer Deutz AG, the University of Rostock researched whether biodiesel meets the strictest emission requirements and the requirements of engine technology manufacturers. Deutz has granted approval for this. The initiator of this project was the Union for the promotion of oil and protein plants (UFOP: Union zur Förderung von Öl- und Proteinpflanzen eV). It was financed by the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture through the Office for Renewable Sources, FNR.

An abridged version of the project report is published by the Automotive Technical Journal (ATZ). This report can be downloaded free of charge on the website of the UFOP.