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Fendt shows prototype hydrogen tractor at German Hydrogen Summit

On 27 February, the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy hosted a hydrogen summit. Fendt presented prototype of a hydrogen tractor there for the first time.


I see hydrogen as a very important solution to problems in agriculture and forestry. Agriculture and forestry can supply a lot of energy, which can also be used to generate hydrogen. Agri-PV plants or wind power generate electricity on agricultural and forestry land and use it to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen from biogas plants or from forest residual wood is also conceivable.

The crowning glory, of course, is when farmers themselves use hydrogen for their tractors or agricultural machinery. I hope that Fendt will continue to develop this prototype, because we need these things.

—Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy

Together with other partners, Fendt is participating in the H2Agrar agricultural model project in Lower Saxony to research a hydrogen infrastructure for agricultural use. In the model project, prototypes of a hydrogen-powered tractor will be used on farms on a regular basis for the first time.

To this end, Fendt will deliver its two first-generation prototypes to farms in Haren (Emsland) in Lower Saxony in April 2023. The aim of the project is to research and establish an infrastructure for hydrogen for agriculture in the Emsland model region. The project has already won the DLG Agrifuture Concept Award 2022.

One of the aims of the research project is to investigate the usability and performance potential of hydrogen for agricultural machinery. To this end, Fendt is developing hydrogen-powered prototype tractors with fuel cells. These will be used under real conditions on two agricultural test farms in the Haren region over the entire project period.

Within the project, the hydrogen consumption of the tractors will be determined. At the same time, the technical requirements for a suitable hydrogen infrastructure for agriculture will be researched. These findings will form the basis for further research into reducing CO2 emissions from agricultural vehicles.



An excellent application for the technology, as you often need more oomph than batteries can readily provide in these large and powerful vehicles, and:

' Hydrogen from biogas plants or from forest residual wood is also conceivable. '

Not only conceivable, but perhaps the best way of providing on site power and decarbonising.

No need for remote sophisticated supply chains, when what you need is to hand throughout vast areas such as the American Midwest.


I should perhaps point out that getting the required very high purity hydrogen needed for current low temperature PEM fuel cells in a distributed agricultural environment is a hassle, so alternatives may be preferable, including for instance Cummin's hydrogen engines, methanol alternatives, as well as other kinds of fuel cells which aren't as fussy.


power is not a problem with batteries. Usually BEVs are more powerful than similar FC vehicles.
Range is a problem with tractors; or to be more precise: stored energy. These machines work long hours and can't be easily moved to a fuel station.

I am not sure about the direct use of hydrogen in this case; farms need to store a lot of fuel to serve all tractors and other machines. And hydrogen is notoriously dangerous to store.
Imho, methanol or even ammonia would be a better fuel for farms.



Quite right, I was being sloppy and lazy, and even unforgivably confounding power and energy.

The reason why for heavy equipment in mining, refuse collection, farming etc are looking at other ZEV alternatives other than batteries is due to the duty cycles, so that they would have too much downtime to recharge, as well as the hassles of the huge draw, which remains even when and if super fast charging batteries become an option, which at the moment for these cost conscious utility users the rate of degradation where very fast charging is employed is unacceptable.

I would also tend to agree with your assessment that methanol would be a very good option for farms etc.


Shades of the 1959 Allis Chalmers fuel cell tractor -- back to the future!

See: https://theweekendhistorian.com/2015/02/28/allis-chalmers-fuel-cell-tractor/

I think that most people do not know about Allis Chalmers but when I was 12 years old, I learned to drive an Allis Chalmers arm tractor.

Anyway, if I were to make a suggestion for the use of green hydrogen for agriculture, it would make much more sense just to make ammonia for fertilizer and forget about fuel cells. If you had more than enough ammonia, you could use it to run a diesel type engine.


Should be:

when I was 12 years old, I learned to drive an Allis Chalmers farm tractor


I would make separate cases for farm equipment and mining equipment.

Mines usually have access to high power electric lines, and the vehicles work quite close to the main buildings.
Also, battery mining vehicles haves existed for decades and already have an industrial tradition using battery swapping (lead-acid, now changing to LiFePo4).

For a modern reference, you can chek Epiroc's battery vehicles. Some of them are real monsters weighting around 30 tons.

Farm equipment is far more difficult. You need to refuel the machines close to the working area, frequently and fastly; that make BEVs really difficult.
H2 storage would be an undesired liability for farms imo; but maybe I am wrong. Maybe big farms can deal with that kind of requirements.

Farming is a hard nut to crack for decarbonization, like air transport.



Them were the days!

I'd prefer a methanol engine to ammonia, but I agree, can't see the need for fuel cells on the farm - would be great if they could move to producing their own fuel as well as power though.....

Agrivoltaics is the way to go, in my NVHO! ;-)


This actually is a great use of H2 technology and would be a great model for the USA, since the Midwest farms already use Wind power for the grid.

From: https://cec-haren.de/modellprojekt-h2agrar-mit-dlg-agrifuture-concept-award-2022-ausgezeichnet/
“The H2Agrar joint project and the Grüner H2 Hub-Haren project are promoting the development of a hydrogen infrastructure. The green hydrogen is produced using green energy from a local community wind farm. “
The project uses two H-TEC SYSTEMS ME450/1400 PEM electrolysers and two lithium-ion batteries with an output of 2 MW and a capacity of 4 MWh to convert excess electricity into hydrogen for short-term storage and feed it into the natural gas grid. (OGE is converting the NG pipeline to H2 : https://oge.net/en/sustainable/projects/our-hydrogen-projects/h2ercules)

Ammonia would definitely work since it is already used on the farm for fertilizer and they know how to handle it safely. There are many projects that are looking at Ammonia for both fertilizer and fuel.
Amogy has demonstrated an Ammonia-Powered, 100 kW Tractor and the University of Minnesota in the US has developed a Wind powered, distributed Ammonia plant on the farm.

Finally, a detailed look at the AGCO/Fendt tractor plan (btw the global brand is Massey Ferguson).


Fine links, Gryf.

I have mislaid the URL, but from memory, for instance in harvesting the farmer needs to be driving the vehicle umpteen hours a day, something which is impractical with batteries, so to decarbonise one or other of the alternatives would seem preferable.

Loads of potential plant. sewage, resources makes me think of methane/methanol/ethanol but perhaps the purity needed for present fuel cells could be reached.


If they have methane from biogas digesters, why not use it directly in ICE tractors and leave out the middleman. You might need a compressor, but that is probably it.
At least it will be carbon neutral.



Simple s good.


So Biomethane tractors are the way to go and they do eliminate a powerful GHG.

Here are two examples (there are probably many more).
The New Holland T6.180 Methane Power with a Fiat 6.7L, 6-cylinder engine.

The AUGA M1 Series Hybrid powered by biomethane and electric drives and is able to operate continuously for up to 12 hours.
Here is a video (at 1:15 minutes notice the BioDigesters).
“AUGA M1 - world’s first hybrid biomethane and electric tractor for professional use.”


Hi Gryf.

I was really thinking of methanol not bio methane, which is far more of a one for one substitute for diesel, withou the bulk of methane tanks.

I can't spot off hand decent links to either methanol tractors, or localised production of methanol, but that was what I fancied in the application

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