Multi Tool Trac, billed as the first electric tractor that saves the soil, is one of this week’s finalists in Rabobank’s FoodBytes event.
Twenty start-up companies from across the global food and agriculture industries are bidding to win prizes such as business acceleration programmes, and introductions to the global network of corporate and retail clients served by Rabobank, a leading agri-bank.
The first prototype Multi Tool Trac was built in 2015.
It is the brainchild of agricultural engineer Paul van Ham.
In 2009, he came across farmers avoiding soil compaction by driving the wheels of their tractors and machines along the same path consistently.
In the meantime, this concept has become more widely used, known as Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF).
Whereas in normal intensive farming systems, machines run at random over the land, compacting up to 75% of the soil per season, causing long-lasting soil damage, a CTF system can reduce tracking to just 12% of a field.
It is catching on as part of the trend to more sustainable farming around the world.
Published research results show 10%-20% yield response to CTF, which also restores soil structure, improves energy efficiency, and reduces GHG emissions.
The Multi Tool Trac is designed to be to be the standard tractor for 3m CTF. Setting tractor wheels 3m apart reduces damaging soil compaction to only 12% of the ground.
The Multi Tool Trac has an adjustable gauge system for on-the-fly changing from 3.2m on the field to 2.25m on the road (required for road safety).
The Multi Tool Trac has a complete electric powertrain, along with a six-cylinder diesel engine, used primarily to charge the tractor’s electric battery.
The tractor has five positions for carrying tools and agricultural equipment, placed between the front and rear wheels. This, and the long wheelbase, maximise visibility for the driver.
With many European farmers investing in solar power and wind energy, there is a feeling that all tractors will be electric in the future.
The aim of the Multi Tool Trac designers is to increase crop yield by 20%, get the tractor work done in 20% less time, and leave the soil in much better shape, while using 100% renewable energy.
With redesigns continuing, the market launch of the Multi Tool Trac is expected in 2019 or 2020.