Biodiesel survey update: What you need to know

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The NFU and NFU Scotland have been receiving reports of filter blocking issues in agricultural vehicles and machinery across England and Scotland. Complete our survey to inform us of your experiences with biofuel issues and keep up to date with the NFU's work to tackle the problem.

The NFU’s Science and Regulatory affairs team have put together a member briefing giving information on the issue and an update on actions to investigate the causes and solutions.

Read the briefing here

JANUARY UPDATE: We have received over 450 responses to our biodiesel survey, providing us with valuable data about the scale and scope of issues across the UK. We continue to work with the Department for Transport, the British Standards Institute (BSI), fuel producers and suppliers to collect and analyse a wide range of samples. The NFU are part of a new working group set up by BSI which will meet later this month to review fuel specifications to ensure all fuel is fit for purpose.

The issues began in August and are suspected to be related to the quality and possible composition of biodiesel.

What is happening?

The reports are of fuel filters in farm machinery blocking up unusually quickly, needing to be replaced far more frequently than expected. The substance found to be blocking the filters varies between reports but commonly consists of a black slime or a clear wax. Affected machinery includes a range of makes and models, costing members both time and money.

What is the NFU doing?

The NFU and NFU Scotland have been in discussions with the Department for Transport, as well as a range of industry experts and stakeholders to try to understand the cause of the issue.

Representatives of both fuel producers and distributors acknowledge that agricultural users of diesel are experiencing problems with material becoming trapped in filters causing fuel starvation, however, to date, there has been no definitive answer to the cause.

The NFU is asking both members and non-members to complete its Biodiesel Issues Survey every time they experience a problem.

Information provided through the survey will be used to help gauge the level and geographic spread of the problem. It will help us to understand the causes of problems and what actions can be taken.

We are aware that numerous fuel samples have been tested and the results show that samples are within specification. We have therefore commissioned independent testing from samples collected from members, which has been funded by the NFU's Legal Assistance Scheme.

We would like to make members aware that, as this is a complex and large-scale problem, it may be some time before causes and solutions to the problem can be fully identified.

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Take the survey

If you have been experiencing filter blocking issues in farm vehicles or machinery, please complete our short survey to help us better understand the problem.

The survey takes no more than 15 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

It may be necessary to complete the survey multiple times: please repeat the survey for each machine/vehicle that has been affected and for each instance you experience a problem with that machine/vehicle.

Before you start, it will be useful, but not essential, to have information about the ‘type-approval number’ of the affected engine (found on the engine plate and beginning with ‘e’/'E’) and the micron size of the affected filter.

The information collected will help the NFU's investigations into the causes of the problem with the fuel industry and the DfT.

What to do if you've experienced issues

  • Complete the NFU's Biodiesel Issues Survey every time you experience a problem – we are asking both members and non-members to complete the survey in order to understand the position in the wider industry​.

  • Contact your fuel supplier to make them aware of the problem.

  • Ensure you are storing fuel on farm in suitable conditions – more information can be found here

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    Last edited on: 22:01:2020

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  • Posted by: Trevor Foss LAS CHAIRMANPosted on: 04/01/2020 09:51:22

    Comment: Why no mention of the tests the LAS has paid for in trying to find the reasons for this happening

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