La Bellotta Farm is a green energy powerhouse

By: Anna Game-Lopata, Photography by: Michael Ward

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La Bellotta bioplant The biogas plant at La Bellotta generates 8,500kW of electricity per year. La Bellotta bioplant
La Bellotta Farm lead The methane-powered prototype tractor at La Bellotta Farm is a New Holland T6 La Bellotta Farm lead
Mauro Rinaldo La Bellotta employee Mauro Rinaldo shifts the silage to the plant forthe production of biomass Mauro Rinaldo
Mr Luca Remmert Though his family is relatively new to farming, owner Luca Remmert is immensely proud of the renewable energy work undertaken at La Bellotta Farm Mr Luca Remmert
New Farm Machinery Editor Anna Game Lopata New Holland rep Stefano Fiorati gives New Farm Machinery Editor Anna Game-Lopata some tips on the finer points of driving a tractor. Fueled by 9 methane tanks it's a very smooth ride! New Farm Machinery Editor Anna Game Lopata
Silage at La Bellotta La Bellotta uses 43 cubic metres of silage which is mixed with manure and hay to produce biomass every day. The biomass produces biogass in an anaerobic process of digestion which is combusted in endothermic engine to generate electricity Silage at La Bellotta

Farmer Luca Remmert and his team are pioneers of New Holland’s innovative energy independent farm concept in Turin, Italy

Imagine your life on the farm if you never had to buy diesel, electric power or fertiliser ever again.

Never going to happen? Think again.

Luca Remmert’s family is achieving just that at La Bellotta, their 443-hectare mixed enterprise on the outskirts of the north Italian town of Turin, about two hours from Milan.

A so-called ‘Energy Independent Farm’, La Bellotta uses only renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, biomass and biogas.

A New Holland T6 prototype tractor runs using methane while together an endothermic engine and a photovoltaic plant produce so much surplus power it’s cheaper for Remmert to sell electricity to the national grid and then buy back what’s required for the farm.

For the most part, enough digestate (a by-product of the biogas production process) is produced to fertilise all their crops.

"La Bellotta produces 15,000 tonnes a year of digestate and this quantity almost entirely covers the farm’s needs," Remmert says.

"We no longer require chemical fertiliser.

"All of the roofs of our chicken huts are covered in photovoltaic cells and we produce 180kW of energy, which we use internally and the production comes from the sun’s energy.

"Our farm demonstrates how you can have both a low environmental impact and a never ending supply of essential inputs."

It’s clear Remmert is immensely proud of La Bellotta. It is the first, and to date the only, energy independent farm in the world.

Developed by agriculture equipment giant New Holland, a brand within the CNH Industrial corporate family, the ‘Energy Independent Farm’ concept was unveiled in 2009 at SIMA in France and quickly snapped up a Gold Medal for innovation.

It featured New Holland’s first generation zero emission hydrogen-powered NH2 tractor, which isn’t yet commercially viable.

However, New Holland’s plan is to keep improving its methane-hydrogen hybrid tractor prototype as the first step towards the development of a fully hydrogen-powered tractor.

Theory became reality and La Bellotta farm was chosen to pilot the energy efficient farm concept.

The second generation NH2 tractor took centre stage at Agritechnica, Germany in 2011 but it wasn’t until 2013 that the methane-powered tractor currently in use at La Bellotta farm, was launched.

Find out how it all works in New Farm Machinery's Issue 25 on sale August 17.

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