February 12, 2019 | Diesel Technology Forum
Delivering Agricultural Bounty and Air Quality Benefits by the Ton
The California Air Resources Board, with funding primarily provided through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, developed the FARMER program that helps farmers replace aging equipment with the latest clean diesel models.
One of the biggest agriculture shows - the World Ag Expo - is happening this week in Tulare in California’s Central Valley - America’s top agriculture-producing region, and a region with some of worst air quality in the country. It’s often the newest generation of farm tractors, machines and equipment on display that gets the spotlight at the Expo, and for good reason. More than two-thirds of all farm machines and tractors are powered by diesel engines; the proven, reliable and efficient technology of choice.
The amazing variety of new equipment, large and small, on display demonstrates what it takes to deliver America’s agricultural bounty to a growing population. But it also highlights how the farming industry is working to improve air quality in the Central Valley, by replacing old equipment with new. The California Air Resources Board, with funding primarily provided through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, developed the FARMER program that helps farmers replace aging equipment with the latest clean diesel models.
And the benefits are substantial. According to CARB, agricultural equipment in the Central Valley generates three times more emissions of fine particles and oxides of nitrogen (NOx, a smog forming compound) for the region compared to the statewide national average. Upgrading and replacing the oldest of this equipment with new clean diesel technologies delivers immediate benefits to the region and communities.
Consider one of the most used and most sold pieces of agricultural equipment - the iconic row crop tractor. Replacing an older generation 375 horsepower row crop tractor manufactured before emissions standards were required beginning in 1995, eliminates NOx and fine particles by over 95 percent, according to U.S. EPA’s Diesel Emission Quantifier tool. That works out to the same NOx eliminated as removing 826 cars from the road for a year and the same fine particle emissions as removing 506 cars. These are substantial benefits that accrue from just one replacement project. Just imagine how many more benefits may accrue from more replacements.
The FARMER program and others like it are making a small but significant impact on delivering on the promise of emission reductions today. But much more can be done and California’s elected officials should pay attention. Recent polling shows that almost 50 percent of Central Valley residents believe air quality has deteriorated. That compares with almost 50 percent of Los Angeles area residents who believe air quality has improved. The legislature appropriated $135 million in funding for the program last year. With more to be done to reduce emissions for communities most in need, California’s leaders perusing the World Ag Expo this week should look to getting more of the latest generation of clean diesel power in the fields ASAP to produce cleaner air for everyone.