“Do more with less” is the motto of the EKoTech CO2 research project initiated by the industry association VDMA Agricultural Machinery and launched in Berlin in early November. The idea behind the ambitious initiative, which is equipped with a generous budget of around EUR 4 million, is to offer European farmers state-of-the-art agricultural machinery, tractors and systems, which have the potential to significantly lower CO2 emissions from machinery use along the entire plant production process. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture will bear around 60% of the project costs.
Process efficiency is crucial
“In EKoTech, our industry is working with renowned scientists, a highly competent industrial team of experts and the expertise of the project sponsor, the Federal Agency of Agriculture and Food, to make an essential contribution to the efficiency of future agriculture,” says Christian Dreyer, Chair of VDMA Agricultural Machinery. Taking climate protection and sustainability seriously means performing an “integrated process inspection.” Only considering emissions and fuel consumption of individual engines, as has been the case until now, is “not nearly enough,” Dreyer emphasizes.
Benchmark for efficient and environmentally friendly agricultural production
CO2 emissions per production unit are the focus of this large-scale research project. “What makes EKoTech so promising is its innovative approach: developing a science-based benchmark method based on production reality in typical farming regions. This will help us to make agricultural production much more efficient and environmentally friendly than before,” says Dr. Eberhard Nacke who, as Chair and industry representative, shares responsibility for the project. “For example, for wheat production, we will be able to determine, how many grams of CO2-emissions a typical farmer in a certain region will be able to save, comparing previous production processes with future mechanization chains,” emphasizes Nacke.
The first step will be a comprehensive empirical analysis of operating data in order to establish the status quo and then find potential for optimization of individual machines as well as entire mechanization processes.
Putting theory into practice
“Passing this litmus test in practice” will be crucial, underlines Dreyer, as it is the only way for innovative process technology to successfully find its way into mainstream agricultural businesses. To achieve this, he says, “all of agribusiness must play its part.” After all, efficient processes and smart connection ideas need to be considered at every stage of the value chain. Agricultural machinery and tractors are a significant, but by no means the only factor in the success of sustainable agriculture tomorrow and beyond.