Update on April 01, 2023 – The EU signs the early end of Non-Road Diesel Fuel (NRDF) for the agricultural sector from 2026 onwards. The agreement among the 27 European countries to end the sale of new vehicles with thermal engines by 2035 conceals an even more ambitious objective for the agricultural sector: no new agricultural vehicles with thermal engines can be sold from January 1, 2026. All new agricultural vehicles must run on alternative energies from 2026. And the entire existing fleet in farms must be renewed by January 1, 2030.

Le GNR devra être progressivement remplacé par des énergies alternatives dans les moteurs de tracteurs dès 2026. (©AdobeStock)

The use of NRDF will gradually be replaced by alternative energies

The use of NRDF will gradually be replaced by alternative energies in tractor engines from 2026 onwards. All new tractors and agricultural self-propelled machines sold from January 1, 2026 must run on electricity, hydrogen, or biogas. The agreement also sets a second deadline of January 1, 2030, to renew all tractors over 100 horsepower present in European farms.

This agreement will naturally accelerate investment programs for agricultural manufacturers. The deal also includes a massive aid plan to accelerate research. And investments for manufacturers and to help farmers renew their tractors, telescopic handlers. And combine harvesters before the end of 2029.

Electric power still poses numerous difficulties for higher powers

In terms of practicality, electric power still poses numerous difficulties for higher powers, particularly in terms of battery autonomy. Therefore, several options are being explored. This includes the development of charging stations directly in the fields using transformers installed at the base of pylons carrying high and very high voltage electric lines.

This tight transition schedule will also force major strategic choices for all farms. Which alternative energy to prioritize for their operation? It will be difficult and undoubtedly far too expensive to use machines that run on different energies. Moreover, it will be challenging to choose the most suitable energy for their operation in such a short period without knowing if manufacturers will develop all the alternatives.

What is Non-road diesel fuel?

Non-road vehicles such as construction equipment, farm machinery, and boats use non-road diesel fuel, also known as off-road diesel fuel, which is a type of diesel fuel. This fuel contains high levels of sulfur and other harmful pollutants that pose significant health and environmental risks.

The burning of non-road diesel fuel contributes to air pollution, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues. In addition, they can also lead to acid rain, which can harm aquatic life and damage crops and buildings.

Measures can be taken to stop the use of non-road diesel fuel

Here are some possible steps that can be taken:

  1. Transition to cleaner fuels: The use of cleaner fuels, such as biodiesel, can significantly reduce the amount of pollutants emitted by non-road vehicles. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils and animal fats that has lower emissions of particulate matter and other harmful pollutants compared to traditional diesel fuel.
  2. Improve vehicle efficiency: Upgrading non-road vehicles with newer, more efficient engines can help reduce the amount of fuel used and the resulting emissions. This can include retrofitting older equipment with newer engines or replacing old equipment with newer, more efficient models.
  3. Mandate emissions controls: Governments can mandate the use of emissions control technologies, such as diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems, to reduce the amount of pollutants emitted by non-road vehicles.
  4. Implement regulations and policies: Governments can implement regulations and policies to encourage the transition to cleaner fuels and more efficient non-road vehicles. This can include tax incentives, grants, and subsidies for the purchase of cleaner vehicles or the installation of emissions control technologies.
  5. Encourage public awareness and participation: Raising public awareness of the health and environmental risks associated with non-road diesel fuel and encouraging participation in efforts to reduce its use can help create a groundswell of support for cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles.

In Short

The use of non-road diesel fuel poses significant risks to both human health and the environment. However, by implementing measures such as transitioning to cleaner fuels, improving vehicle efficiency, mandating emissions controls, implementing regulations and policies, and encouraging public awareness and participation, we can work towards a cleaner future and protect our planet for future generations.

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