There will be great relief and joy for our UK neighbours today (19th July) as the pandemic restrictions are finally lifted there. The date for allowing indoor dining of pubs and restaurants in Ireland should have happened today as well but, yet again, it has been delayed for another week.
The Festival of Turf will be taking place this Wednesday and Thursday at the Warwickshire Event Centre. I hope it will be a great success, especially for the organisers within BIGGA. This will be BIGGA’s first real life trade show since BTME in January 2020. The following week, from July 27th – 29th the Sports & Grounds Expo (SAGE) will take place at the Three Counties Showgrounds in Malvern. Alas, no sign yet of such events taking place here in Ireland.
I am always amazed at how engine technology has evolved over the years. It all began during the industrial revolution with the development of the steam engine in the mid to late late 1700s. Over one hundred years later, in the late 1800s, the internal combustion engine was invented which has brought us to the engines we know of today.
However, there are changes on the way. Pressure is being put on governments to reduce their carbon footprint, forcing engine manufacturers to come up with alternative ways of reducing carbon emissions. I read with interest that the European Parliament has allowed the use of transition engines built in 2019. This came about because of the COVID-19 crisis, which the parliament adopted a text to extend the transition provisions of certain machinery and tractors fitted with engines in the 56kw - 130kw power range.
All these new regulations will no doubt lead to the development of alternative engine types. It is possible that diesel engines will soon be a thing of the past, after being invented in the 1890s by Rudolf Diesel. It’s hard to imagine a farm or horticultural enterprise operating without using diesel engines. They have been with us for well over one hundred years.
Some tractor manufacturers are already working on different fuel types. For example Case New Holland (CNH) is making a tractor that runs on methane gas and hope to have it on sale later this year. Deutz has produced a prototype hydrogen engine as an alternative to fuel cell technology and AGCO Power will be manufacturing a range of engines that are capable of burning a wide variety of fuels.
There are already battery operated machines on the market but, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, producing electric tractors in the higher horse power range is proving problematic. It is difficult to store electricity for future use, especially for machines that require high energy outputs. Carbon-based fuels, such as diesel gas and petrol, are far more efficient at storing energy than batteries. For that reason battery operated tractors are a long way off as there is little appetite for them among the major tractor manufacturers.
The next twenty years will see a big change in engine types on the market. Dealers and workshop technicians will need to keep abreast of the changes and adapt to the technology needed to repair and service them.