A different kind of energy saving idea for farms

DIESEL will be 100% dearer in 2020, says the head of product management at a top EU farm machinery company, which is winning major awards for fuel-saving innovations.

Pottinger of Austria is well prepared for €2 per litre tractor fuel.

Well known in Ireland for the grass handling machinery which makes up 67% of its annual global sales of €182 million, Pottinger has been honoured with prestigious awards for its energy-saving silage wagons.

Wins in 2010 at the Agraria Fair, one of the largest agricultural shows in their native Austria, followed prestigious international awards in 2009 in at Agritechnica, the world’s biggest machinery show.

The Agritechnica awards were for technical advances which enable up to 35% higher performance by Pottinger silage loader wagons. This includes a 15% lower power requirement and 15% lower fuel consumption, due to the Autocut automatic knife sharpening system.

Pottinger have highlighted that if wagon knives are sharpened just once per day the power requirement and diesel consumption increase 15%, or even 20% on stony ground.

The new four minute push-button knife sharpening also ends a 45-minute manual grinding procedure.

Another Agritechnica silver medal for an energy saving advancement was won by Pottinger in conjunction with John Deere. Pottinger’s so-called “intelligent loader wagon” slows down or accelerates the tractor, depending on the density or shape of the grass swath, as recorded by a sensor at the front of the tractor.

When this is added to auto-sharpening of knives and some other features, such as an eight-row pick-up, the company’s new wagons perform up to 35% better.

This kind of energy-saving in farming is a major focus for Pottinger, says the company’s head of product development, Thomas Reiter, who predicts the €2 per litre diesel price in 2020 (compared to €1.10 in Austria at the time of the company’s international open day last autumn).

He reveals that the company could have even bigger breakthroughs coming up for farmers in this area of machinery development.

In the meantime, where can farmers and contractors make savings if they are worried about rising diesel bills?

In the grass area where Pottinger specialise, Reiter has some interesting suggestions. He says Irish farmers could save a lot of fuel by dropping the power-hungry conditioners from mowers, and opting for raking and wilting instead, and says it very important to have an even swath of grass for picking up, for fuel consumption.

In general, he opposes “thirsty” precision chop harvesters and very heavy grass handling machinery, from the point of view of fuel consumption. Performance per weight is an important measure in Pottinger’s machinery development.

He suggests Irish farmers could copy Austrian methods, and improve silage quality by taking an extra cut of younger grass, and should cut at 6-7cm in order to speed grass recovery,

At Pottinger’s international day, 600 dealers and journalists from 30 countries were brought up to date on the company’s progress.

Fuel consumption on farms was less of a problem for some of them — such as delegates from Turkmenistan, who revealed that diesel costs only 10c per litre in their oil-rich former-USSR state in Central Asia. The country’s government agency buys ploughs from Pottinger.

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