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CNG Power: Spiking fuel costs create buzz for compressed natural gas

The surging price of diesel is sparking some renewed interest in cheaper “compressed natural gas” (CNG) to fuel the internal combustion engines of agriculture. Exhibit A: The buzz created by New Holland’s U.S. release of a new 100-hp tractor that runs on CNG.

Natural gas — also known as methane — is the cleaner-burning fossil fuel piped through many communities by companies like Enbridge. Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance Executive Director Bruce Winchester estimated that natural gas-powered farm equipment would offer a fuel savings of 30 to 40% over the conventional alternative.

For vehicle or tractor use, natural gas is compressed at 3,600 pounds per square inch and stored in a special onboard tank or canister feeding the engine with methane instead of (typically) gasoline.

The technology is nowhere near the radical departure represented by heavy, battery-powered, electric tractors and vehicles and instead retains the tried-and-true advantages of the familiar internal combustion engine.

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Spreading Potash Fertilizer

Video: Spreading Potash Fertilizer

Wisconsin Greg spreading potash fertilizer on his farm with a New Holland TS6020.