It might not look much bigger than a quad - but a trailblazing collaboration between two of Europe's biggest machinery manufacturers has demonstrated the on-farm future of autonomous tractors might not be too far off after all.
The demonstration was the first run by Combined Powers - a new alliance between Lemken, which specialises in agricultural implements, and Krone, which specialises in hay and forage equipment.
The Combined Powers ‘process unit’ (the preferred term rather than 'tractor') is designed to be capable of carrying out cultivating, ploughing, sowing, mowing, tedding and raking.
Its diesel engine develops a maximum power of 170kW (230hp), which is transferred electrically to the wheels and PTO.
After successfully passing a series of trials last year, the system has been unveiled in the field to the international trade press.
Like a tractor, the attachments are coupled to a three-point linkage. However, uniquely, the process unit is controlled by the attachment - and not the other way round.
This approach was considered as the primary requirement for achieving optimum results.
Its design builds on Krone and Lemken's long experience in the application of ISOBUS and TIM. As such, the attachment and the process unit behave like one smart and homogeneous unit, communicating, interacting and sharing data.
The base machine boasts multiple and extensive sensor systems which monitor the immediate surroundings and the attachments.
However, the Farm Exam can't confirm if it is smart enough to know if it has hit a stone and broken a blade.
The focus is on safe operation and achieving optimum results. Operators can even control and monitor the machine from their mobile phone, sending jobs and job reports through a communication module and via the established agrirouter data exchange hub.
The demonstration took place in a field in northwest Germany, where one unit operated the 4m Krone EasyCut F 400 Fold front mower.
After completing the mowing job, the unit was quickly changed over for tedding using the Vendro 820 which tedded the freshly cut material across an 8.20m work width. The second process unit demonstrated its cultivating abilities using an 8-row Azurit 10 K 8 precision drill and an adapted Karat 10 cultivator made by Lemken.
Depending on the specific application and machine attached, the weight of the 2.7m wide and 2.6m high unit is between 7.5 and 8 tonnes.
A spokesperson for Combined Powers explained the unit was developed as a solution to skilled labour shortages in agriculture.
"Farmers will no longer spend long working days in the field but act as system operators who monitor the VAT as it delivers a consistently accurate quality of work," she said.
"The machine’s versatility and longevity enables its owners to operate the unit in all seasons and for a long time. Intensive trialling in all types of conditions whilst seeking feedback from farmers and contractors will continue this year."