Deputy Director


Kerstin Martens
Institute of Farm Economics

Bundesallee 63
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5102
Fax: +49 531 596 5199

EKoTech - Efficient fuel use in agricultural Technology


EKo-Tech - Effiziente Kraftstoffnutzung in der Agartechnik (c) Thünen-Institut
(© Thünen-Institut)

Efficient fuel use in agricultural Technology

Fuel consumption is one of the main variable cost factors in agriculture. A more efficient fuel use can reduce production cost as well as climate-relevant CO2 emission.


Background and Objective

This project aims to develop options to optimize the specific fuel consumption in cash crop and forage production. While fuel efficiency in passenger cars can be defined easily in liters per 100 kilometers, this is much more difficult in agricultural process chains. The reason for this is that different process steps depend on and influence each other. Additionally, location conditions and yield potentials in agriculture vary very much. For this reason, we will record the specific fuel consumption in liters per unit of grain.

A single focus on the efficiency of combustion engines is not sufficient. Further potential for optimization can be found in all remaining components of machinery (e.g. gearbox) as well as in each step of the production process. This includes, for example, optimized logistics during harvesting.

In close collaboration between science, agricultural engineering and agriculture, we aim to uncover and evaluate the potential for optimization for typical process chains at major production sites in Germany and Europe. Additionally, we aim to present the development of the specific fuel consumption from 1990 to today and outline an outlook until 2030.


At various locations in Germany and selected European countries, we record today's agricultural process chains as well as those relevant in 1990 to establish typical farms. Our basis for this purpose, discussions with agricultural entrepreneurs and consultants for the selected regions.

Together with our project partners, we develop various options for future fuel savings regarding the individual machine as well as the entire production process. We analyze and evaluate the results in a comprehensive simulation model developed by technical universities, which includes, among other things, our typical farms. We then validate the results in the context of focus group discussions with consultants and agricultural entrepreneurs.

Our Research Questions

How have agricultural production systems changed in the past?

What innovations can be expected in arable production systems in the future?

How will these innovations impact on fuel consumption and yield levels?


Since 1990, the typical production systems in the considered regions have developed differently. As a rule, there has been a decrease in tillage intensity on the one hand, while the number of spraying passes increased. The most important development in tillage is the conversion from plow to a reduced tillage strategies with lower working depths. Potentials for diesel savings of 35-40 % per ton of grain were estmiated for the period from 1990-2030. Tillage and harvesting were identified as the most relevant diesel consumption items in the production system. Hence, the biggest savings can be achieved due to a combination of tillage and sowing with up to 42 %.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
    (Braunschweig, Deutschland)
  • Universität Hohenheim
    (Hohenheim, Deutschland)
  • Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft e.V. (KTBL)
    (Darmstadt, Deutschland)
  • Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (VDMA)
    (Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland)
  • INL • Privates Institut für Nachhaltige Landbewirtschaftung GmbH
    (Halle / Saale, Deutschland)

Funding Body

  • Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE)
    (national, öffentlich)


7.2016 - 9.2019

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: finished