Research and development project MuSt5-Trak
Development and field test of a multi-fuel tractor compliant with emission stage V

On a sunny day without clouds, the picture shows in the foreground a ripe rapeseed field, on the field boarder are two tractors, which are facing each other. On their extended lower links there is a jerry can containing a yellowish liquid. At the right and left behind the tractors are bushes and trees, behind them are more fields and grassland separated by roads and in the background there is a forest.
Based on a standard production diesel tractor the John Deere European Technology Innovation Center is developing a Euro emissions stage V multi-fuel tractor, which is capable of running on divers fuels (vegetable oil, biodiesel, diesel) as well as mixtures of those. For this purpose the tractor will get a fuel analysis system which will provide data for the management of the engine control according to the used fuel. This system will be tested in practical application. The multi-fuel tractor should be able to operate with different fuels and fuel mixtures in a reliable, efficient and low emission manner. This project should help to increase the market introduction chances of vegetable oil powered agricultural and forestry machines.


The overall goal of this joint research project is the development of a European emission stage V multi-fuel tractor with the highest possible fuel flexibility combined with a high level of operative reliability and a low barrier for biofuels regarding market entry. The first sub-project is carried out by the project coordinator John Deere and is aimed to develop an algorithm for fuel detection, which is later on tested by implementing it in an engine control software and testing it on a test machine. The second sub-project, which is carried out by the Technology and Support Centre (TFZ) is tasked with testing and rating sensors for fuel recognition and field tests of the multi-fuel concept. The third sub-project which is the testing of sensors on an engine test bench and the optimization of the engine is conducted by the TU Kaiserslautern.


The major project parts of the sub-project are:

  • Evaluation of sensors
  • Development of a model for fuel detection
  • Emission and performance tests on the tractors with different fuels and fuel mixtures on the tractor test stand
  • Field tests with the tractors with rapeseed oil as well as in multi-fuel mode
In the foreground a green John Deere 6250R tractor the perspective is directed upwards in the background on top of the tractors roof the sun shows.

Project tractor John Deere 6250R

In a hall, in the foreground there are measurement devices and container, behind stands a green John Deere tractor which is connected to the measurement devices.

Tractor test stand of the TFZ

On a sunny day, in foreground at the lower right corner is a blurred boundary strip, on the right site of the picture is a John Deere 6135R tractor besides a blooming rape field on the left half of the shot.

Project tractor John Deere 6135R

Labelled lab canisters with blue lids in front of a white backdrop, the first canister is filled almost to the top with a light yellow liquid, the second one with a brownish coloured one and the third with a middle yellow one. The labelling describes the content of the canisters, in order, Dieselkraftstoff (diesel fuel) Fettsäuremethylester “Biodiesel” (fatty acid methyl ester “biodiesel”) and Rapsölkraftsoff (rapeseed oil fuel) further the labels give more information about the content and on the first canister there are also caution marks displayed.

Diesel, biodiesel and rapeseed oil

A in an exhibition hall a man talks to a surrounding audience. In the background is a John Deere tractor.

Exhibition appearance Grüne Woche in Berlin

A tractor of the John Deere company is displayed with a front weight and a decal “Pflanzenöl” (Plant oil) on its windscreen in an exhibition hall.

Exhibition appearance Grüne Woche in Berlin

An einem wolkenlosen sonnigen Tag. Zur Linken ist ein im Hintergrund mit dem Horizont verschmelzendes gelb blühendes Feld, an der vorderen Bildkante ein gekiester Feldweg und auf der rechten Seite, auf diesem stehend, ein von der Sonne angeschienener grüner Standardtraktor mit gelben Felgen.

Reduced greenhouse Gas emissions

On a sunny day, in the foreground a green tractor with yellow wheels, which is parked on grassland near to a pond with some water plants on its surface. On the other shore of the pond are bushes and a wildflower meadow, in the background on the boundary of the meadow are bushes changing into woodland.


Closing Event

The research project "Development and field test of a multi-fuel tractor compliant with emission stage V (MuSt5-Trak)" is nearing the end of the project with a promising state of results. The results have been presented by the project partners John Deere GmbH & Co. KG, the Technical University of Kaiserslautern (TUK) and the Technology and Support Centre (TFZ) at a joint closing event on Aug. 12, 2021. The online event reached more than 100 representatives from politics, agriculture, research and industry.
John Deere demonstrated that fuel detection is possible with existing internal engine sensors and used them for defined switching of engine maps in a field test machine. By using artificial intelligence, further refinements could be made to the fuel detection algorithm.
The Technical University of Kaiserslautern supported the project with data generation at the engine test bench for the fuel detection algorithm. Additionally a solution for particle filter regeneration with vegetable oil fuels was developed. The TUK studies have also shown that there is significant potential for inner-engine emission reduction through rapeseed oil fuel and rapeseed oil-diesel blends.
Tractor test stand trials and fuel sensor tests were conducted at the Technology and Support Centre. It could be shown that the tractors with multi-fuel concept meet the performance level of diesel operation with all fuel blends, while also complying with the current emission limits. The investigations of the fuel sensors showed that they are suitable for fuel detection, especially when the limits of detection are reached by internal engine sensors.
Through the multi-fuel concept, the possibility of a sustainable alternative for the propulsion of agricultural vehicles was demonstrated and tested. The knowledge gained can be incorporated into future vehicle development of the project partner John Deere and thus have a lasting influence on the range of agricultural technology.

Presentation slides for Download here (DE) pdf 3,5 MB

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Multifuel concept for tractors | John Deere EN

Current impressions

In the centre of a wood panelled hall with red flooring is a green tractor with yellow wheels, oriented slightly to the foreground, facing in left direction. The bonnet is opened upwards. The engine of the tractor is connected to a lot of wiring in different sizes. Multiple devices are surrounding the tractor to which the wires are leading. Behind the tractor is a blue cart, above which a silver exhaust duct is installed. In the back of it are shelves at the wall. On the back wall of the hall there is a poster of flowering rapeseed, some venting grilles and a double door.
During the first quarter of 2021 the emission and power measurements were conducted on a John Deere 6135R with diesel, biodiesel, plant oil and with binary mixtures of these fuels. For each fuel the engine control unit was provided with a dedicated setup to enable optimal combustion conditions and low emissions. It was shown that the emissions for all blends were far below the maximum limiting values for type approval and in some cases even at the detection limit. Further was shown, that the power of the tractor was kept nearly constant regardless of the type of fuel.
On a cloudy day, in the foreground on rich green grassland a green tractor with yellow wheels is standing, carrying a green front weight and a plough at the back which is sitting on the ground. The tractors driving direction points diagonally to the front towards the right side of the picture. In the background are small houses with whitewash walls and red roofs standing in a loose row with some conifers spread out along their front.
Since October 2020 the fuel sensors, that were already examined on the testbench, have been evaluated on two tractors under field conditions. By this means their toughness and possible side-effects on the sensors will be investigated. The shown tractor, John Deere 6135R, serves in normal duty on the testing farm in Grub, which belongs to the Bayerische Staatsgüter, where it performs diverse transport and field work. To check the reliability of the fuel detection system, this tractor is being operated successively with different fuel mixtures.

Bayerische Staatsgüter (DE) Externer Link

View out of a dark room through a window into a well-lit room. At the bottom of the picture in the dark room are four computer screens showing various diagrams. In the lit room are many pipes, tubes and wires connecting to a machine in the middle of the room.
Based on measurements taken on an engine test bench at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern a model for fuel detection has been developed. By using the oxygen content of the exhaust gas and combining it with other measured values the content of mixtures of rapeseed oil, biodiesel and fossil diesel can be detected. This detection model now gets modified to be implemented together with test hardware on one of the project tractors (JD6135R). When the detection also works under fielded conditions the engine parameters will be altered in a next step.

Engine test bench TU Kaiserslautern (DE) Externer Link

Further impressions
In a small white well lit room, on the left a dark clothed person shown in profile directed to the right is holding up a metal object to eye height, inspecting it. On the right, more in the background a contraption of tubes and armatures is mounted on a vertical white panel.
At the sensor test bench at TFZ different sensors are tested with different fuels and fuel mixtures. A special focus is placed on the influence of temperature and pressure variation on the sensors. Besides that, further influences on the sensors by flowing fuel are investigated in an imitated tractor fuel system. So far the results are promising for the remainder of the project.
On a cloudless sunny day from an slightly elevated position. The foreground of the image shows centred a green standard tractor with yellow wheels, it is parked in a grassland area which is bound to be overtaken by bushes and one hundred meters to the back it evolves into a hedge with trees. field which goes on into the horizon, nearest to the viewer in the foreground is a gravel road, on which a green standard tractor with yellow wheels is standing, located on the right side of the picture.
Late in the year 2019 after 300 operation hours at the Bildungs- und Versuchszentrum Almesbach der Bayerischen Staatsgüter (education and experiment centre Almesbach of Bavarian state estates) the John Deere 6250R was brought back to the TFZ. Following small maintenance the tractor was again evaluated on the tractor test bench to see if its emissions or power has changed since the last measurement.
Information on rapeseed oil as fuel is provided in the booklet TFZ Kompakt 8.

TFZ-Kompakt 8 - Rapsöl als Kraftstoff für Traktoren (DE) pdf 1,9 MB

In a white room with smooth walls; the view is from below upwards at anfivedent angel. In the foreground piping, electrical wires and fittings can be seen, above this fivedent contraption which is mounted on a frame are two gauges, in the background is a person in dark clothing who touches a lever on the contraption and looks at one of the gauges.
After the installation and testing of the sensor test bench was finished, the sensortests have started. The sensors should be able to distinguish multiple fuels (diesel, biodiesel and rape seed oil) and mixtures thereof reliably in order to realise a fuel type based engine control according to the sensor signals. At the test bench the sensors will be tested concerning their behaviour under a range of conditions found on a tractor, such as fuel pressure or temperature. Furthermore reference data for the later tractor application is collected.
On a cloudless sunny day, in the centre of the picture a green tractor can be seen which has a metal box at its front and a blue grubber at the back. It is driving over a stubble field which in the foreground and the background of the picture is already treated, but in the current line it is still stubbly. Next to the field there are houses and trees.
Like with the small project tractor, tests with the portable emissions measuring system were also conducted with the bigger project tractor. This measurements were made at the Staatsgut Almesbach (centre for education, experiments and expertise) of the Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft (Bavarian State Research Centre for Agriculture) (link below), where the project tractor will stay for the rest of the project to be evaluated in a field test.

Staatsgut Almesbach (DE) Externer Link

The picture is taken from a sideward angel from above. It shows a tractor in a workshop with opened bonnet. The tractor is connected to a complex device via a pipe to the exhaust, other tubes and cables are running to another device by the back wheel of the tractor, more devices can be seen in the background. In the foreground is a trolley with gas bottles, a tank with a petrol pump and a barrel filled with some liquid.
As the John Deere 6135R, just before the John Deere 6250R was also taken to the tractor test bench of the TFZ in July. The power and emissions of the tractor were reviewed to show the emissions of the machine at the project start with rapeseed oil and diesel fuel.
In the foreground, on a sunny cloudless day, the picture shows a green tractor with yellow wheels on paved ground,, which has a box mounted on its back with tubes connecting the box with the exhaust pipe. In the background are grass strips and more paved surfaces, on the grass strips are trees.
As part of the project there are not only test bench tests conducted but also tests with a portable emission measuring system (PEMS; link below). These measurements are used as reference for the emissions of normal agricultural machinery use and to be able to compare those results to the results of the test bench. The picture shows the project tractor John Deere 6135R with mounted emissions measuring system during a brake of the measuring run.


Picture of a tractor in a hall, in the foreground are various measuring devices, behind on the right connected to the measuring devices there is a green tractor with opened bonnet on the left are further measuring devices. In the background there can be seen shelfs and a poster with blooming rape.
Emissions and performance test of the John Deere 6135R tractor, on the tractor test bench of the TFZ, to evaluate the initial situation of the tractor in original factory condition with rapeseed oil and diesel fuel.
On a sunny day, picture taken at an angle downwards from high ground, shows the left side of a green tractor, which casts a shadow to the left lower corner of the picture, the tractor stands on cobble stones, in the background there is a rectangular area with gravel on which there are small trees and a table with benches.
Center April 2019 the second tractor of the MuSt5-Trak project was delivered to the TFZ. As the other tractor this one will be tested on emissions at the TFZ before it will be sent to the LfL testing farm. Almesbach for field trails.

Staatsgut Almesbach (DE) Externer Link

In the foreground of the left half of the picture there is a green tractor and in front of it a barrel in the middle is a woodchopper and three people in front of it, on the right is a farming trailer with to persons on top of it and another tractor behind. In the background on the left a grass strip with a wall behind it can be seen, on the right side a barn.
First practical test use of the project tractor John Deere 6135R supporting the project "Innovative processing techniques for wood fuels", which aims to integrate innovative production ways of wood fuels in conventional process chains.

Innovative processing techniques for wood fuels (DE)

On a cloudy day, in foreground a John Deere 6135R project tractor with buildings in the background.
Early April 2019 the first of the project tractors of the MuSt5-Trak project was received from John Deere (ETIC) by the TFZ to be tested on emissions, before it will be sent to the testing farm of the LfL in Grub for practical field tests.

LfL-location Grub (DE) Externer Link

Further information

Project information
Project title: Development and field test on an emission stage V multi fuel tractor
Sub-project: Sensor test and investigation of overall system at the tractor test stand and in field operation
Sub-project leader: Dr. Edgar Remmele
Person responsible: Julian Spiegel
Project duration: November 1st 2018 to October 31st 2021
Funding agency: Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V.
Financial support: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Support code: 22408617

Logo Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Project partners:
John Deere GmbH & Co. KG - European Technology Innovation Center (overall project leader)
Technical University of Kaiserslautern - Institute of Vehicle Propulsion Systems (LAF)

Logo John Deere Logo der Technischen Universität Kaiserslautern