This week’s Agritechnica trade fair is a good place to check out the changing shape of tractors

This week’s Agritechnica trade fair is a good place to check out the changing shape of tractors

This week’s Agritechnica trade fair in Germany is a good place to check out the changing shape of tractors.

Regarded as the world’s most important platform for innovations in agricultural machinery, Agritechnica continues to next Saturday in Hanover, daily from 9am to 6pm.

The latest developments in tractors can be seen, such as the systems presented by John Deere and New Holland to reduce the shocks caused in tractor cabs by large balers, which are very unpleasant for the driver and can even lead to health problems.

With John Deere’s intelligent vibration damping, piston shocks are compensated by briefly changing the speed in the stepless gearbox.

New Holland is equipping its T7 tractor model series with a baling mode which intercepts piston shocks with a modified front axle suspension set-up and a steeper engine cut-off curve setting.

Digitisation

Digitisation has arrived in tractors, and Agritechnica offers the opportunity to see systems such as Valtra Connect for efficient fleet management, and TIM remote diagnosis from Kubota for simplified, brand-independent fault analysis of tractor/implement combinations.

TracLink Smart from Lindner offers automatic implement recognition and web-based setting recommendations.

FendtONE in the 700 series and the 314 model offers four monitors.

For example, the satellite guidance display can be shown on the electronic dashboard or the ceiling monitor, and individual tractor functions can be assigned to almost all of the buttons in the new control armrest.

Emissions

Since January 2019, diesel engines in new tractors of more than 130kW have been required to adhere to Stage V exhaust particulate emission limits; from January 2020, this will also be the case for the output class from 56-130kW.

There’s also a new limit for the total particles/kWh, making closed-loop particulate filter systems unavoidable.

Exhaust gas after-treatment systems are increasingly contained in compact single modules and positioned outside of the engine area, for example in the Massey Ferguson 6700S and 7700S model series.

CNH has new systems in which the complete exhaust gas after-treatment takes up barely more installation space than the previous Stage IV exhaust emission systems.

Gas engines

Numerous tractor prototypes with gas engines have been presented in the past, but New Holland is now the first manufacturer to present a tractor with a gaseous fuel drive that is fit for series production.

In the brand’s T6 series, additional tanks for compressed natural gas are planned to extend the operating time. These are carried in a special frame on the front hydraulics and can be connected to the main tanks on the tractor by quick couplings.

Transmissions

Powershift gearboxes continue to dominate, particularly on farms with high percentages of heavy pulling work. Case IH is extending 18/4 and 19/4 versions for the Magnum 400 to offer a 21/5 full powershift gearbox, with which the vehicle can be driven at both 40 km/h and 50km/h at a reduced engine speed.

Stepless gearboxes have been in use for more than 20 years in agriculture, with an additional generator for electric drives with higher power requirements on the tractor, trailer and implement.

John Deere is now taking a new approach for the new 8R large tractors by completely foregoing the hydraulic unit (pump/motor) and instead implementing two electric motors to take over the function of the variable actuator in the power-split gearbox structure, but also providing electrical power of up to 100kW for external consumption.

This can be used, for instance, to drive electric driving axles of large trailers or semi-mounted ploughs, thus leading to increased traction and reduced slip.

Or large liquid manure tankers with slurry injection equipment can be operated with smaller tractors.

On the tractor, the electromechanical power split should result in improved gearbox efficiencies and lower running costs.

At Agritechnica, the Swiss company, Rigitrac, will exhibit a further developed version of the SKE 50 Electric prototype with 50kW.

The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 80kWh and is mounted between the axles, beneath the cab. Up to five electric motors can be supplied by the 400V electrical system: one each for the front and rear axles as well as for the rear and front power take-off, and one to drive the hydraulics pump.

Track drives

For high traction and low soil pressures, large standard tractors are increasingly being equipped with semi-track drives.

Specialised manufacturers have been offering retrofit solutions for front and rear axles for some time.

Factory-fitted semi-track drives for the rear axles of their large tractors have been presented by CNH and Claas in recent years.

The front axles of wheeled tractors are not usually designed for such drives, so problems may arise if they are retrofitted.

For its Magnum model series, Case IH is offering new steering assistance through automatic brake pulses at the rear wheels for semi-caterpillar and wheeled models.

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