Tier 4 Trials

Updated: 09/21/2010 @ 9:16am

Until now, the whole to-do about EPA pollution standards for diesel engines had been much to-do about nothing as far as most farmers were concerned. Sure, we’ve been hearing from manufacturers about the benefits of their Tier-compliant engines, and for good reason. Today’s diesels run quieter, drink less fuel, and are far more responsive than those built prior to 1996 when the first of the EPA’s pollution-reduction standards, or tiers, began to be imposed.

These advances have been beneficial for farmers. Take the example of engine responsiveness. Back in the day when you engaged the unload auger on a combine, there was a noticeable lag in power to other combine functions. It took a whole lot of power to unload at a rate of 3 bushels per second.

But today’s engines compensate by generating power upon demand. Some manufacturers call it a power bulge; others call it power growth or torque reserve. Whatever the terminology, the results are hard and fast. Diesels now turn out more power.

You can thank engineers for that added power. These folks utilized advances in turbochargers, fuel injection, piston design, and computer controls to create engines that leap at the chance to do more work.

So up to now, meeting EPA’s tiers has caused little consternation with farmers, except for having to upgrade engine oil stocks to the CJ-4 service category.

New year, new tier

That won’t be the case after January 2011. Don’t think diesels will be less responsive, louder, or fuel hogs. As a matter of fact, expect to enjoy additional fuel efficiencies.

After January, all large horsepower engines must be Tier 4 interim compliant. In the near future, all diesels -- regardless of size -- must meet Tier 4 final standards, which means they must produce far less soot and smog.

Cutting these emissions means you must become familiar with new engine components such as postcombustion filtration systems, some of which will require extra maintenance. It also means you’ll need to learn some new acronyms.

Alphabet soup

Depending on the make of the machine, some of you will need to store and handle a product called diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) used by selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. Eventually, all large diesel engines may have to use DEF, as engine builders meet even more strident pollution regulation.

If you purchased a diesel pickup built after 2009, you’re already familiar with DEF and SCR, since all over-the-road trucks (except for two makes of semis) employ this pollution-control technology.

To properly maintain your EPA-compliant diesel, you will be required to use high-quality CJ-4 engine oil and ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel. You’ll also need to be mindful of maintaining diesel particulate filters (DPF), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOE), and SCR aftertreatment systems.

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