Biological Systems Engineering


First Advisor

Roger Hoy

Date of this Version



Rohrer, R.A. (2017). Investigation of Petroleum Use in Off-road Agricultural Machinery and Analysis of J1939 Controller Area Network (CAN) Data for Advanced Machinery Testing (Master's thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering, Under the supervision of Professor Roger Hoy, Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2017.

Copyright (c) 2017 Rodney Rohrer


Nearly all modern off-road agricultural machinery are powered by petroleum, primarily diesel fuel. Equipment manufacturers work to improve fuel efficiency of their equipment to provide better value to their customers. Benefits of reducing petroleum use include lower operating costs, improved operational efficiency, improved energy security, and environmental benefits. Agricultural tractor testing focuses primarily on characterizing maximum performance but there is a need for advanced test procedures to better measure fuel efficiency for load cases representative of in-field operations. This would help farmers make better equipment purchasing and utilization decisions and help manufacturers quantify efficiency improvements; ultimately driving continued progress toward better efficiency. This research explored historic diesel fuel use for off-road agricultural machinery, current trends in improving diesel efficiency, and potential to better assess fuel efficiency with advanced test procedures. Additional work evaluated the accuracy of machine-reported data that has the potential to be used for creating advanced test procedures. Results showed that machine-reported engine speed is a good predictor of actual engine speed but there was statistically significant difference between measured torque and torque calculated from machine reported parameters. Tools for collection and analysis of in-field machine data were also explored and an application was developed as proof-of-concept for SAE J1939 data logging and real-time analysis. Each of the software and hardware tools explored demonstrated advantages for individual use cases and provided practical options for J1939 field data collection.

Chapter one is composed of information from a report titled Agricultural Industry Advanced Vehicle Technology: Benchmark Study for Reduction in Petroleum Use that was prepared for the United States Department of Energy and published by Idaho National Laboratory. Chapters two and three are being prepared for publication in Transactions of ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineers) and Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, respectively.

Advisor: Roger Hoy