Tractor Advances


Source: The 8R cab looks like a video game console, but for real world performance.

Tractor advances are no longer focused on the performance of the tractor strictly. Now the manufacturers have to combine performance with meeting restrictions for a variety of parameters from exhaust emissions, dust generation, fuel consumption, and any number of other regulations dreamed up by a bevy of paper pushers that have probably never even been inside of a tractor cab. Yes, the whole industry has to put up with these costly interferences mostly focused on the tractors.


Regulations Not Stopping Progress – Yet


The agricultural machinery industry has met the challenge so far by providing much cleaner burning diesel engines, introducing hydrogen fuel cell oriented tractors like New Holland offers with only water as a by-product, and developing new models that meet the Tier4 requirements.


Beyond meeting the increasingly burdensome regulations, the newest tractors keep adding comforts for the operator, including easy notebook computer support, better integration with all types of farm management software, and more status control features for all the operations the tractor could support with attachments. The focus continues to be integrating the operator control screens with tractor control of rates, speeds, and feeds to allow the operator to multi-function because automation is handling routine tasks without human input.


John Deere – Setting High Standards With the 8R Tractor


A great example of premium tractor advances comes from the leader, John Deere. Their updated 8R series tractor brings a PTO boost feature for up to 35 extra hp when needed, along with 370 hp of main drive while meeting the FT4 emission requirements. This hp boost is matched with increased fuel efficiency in a have your cake and eat it to trick that highlights the efficiency of the Deere Intelligent Power Management engine control system.


Even though the tractors are getting more and more autonomous, Deere added a Command View III set-up that would make Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise envious. The luxurious operator chair can swivel 40 degrees, includes strong arm rests, and positions the operator for easy access and viewing of all controls. JD is so proud of this operator friendly system that it gets top billing with their engine management system.


All Tractor Manufacturers Including Software and Equipment Integration


All of these features are somewhat imitated by most manufacturers. They all know operators want the greatest efficiency, comfort, and available technology. Deere happens to execute better than most, but the other manufacturers are hard at JD’s heels.


One of the recent challenges faced by farmers around the world is the excess rainfall. The 8R tractor series features a possible 8-tire arrangement of large Group 49 tires. Using these larger than standard tractor tires allows a farmer to travel more efficiently while causing less damage to their land. Though not a high-tech solution for tractors, it is an important feature for preserving soil integrity.


JD, like all the major manufacturers, offers integration between the 8R and their farm management system, plus their dealer network. Though each manufacturer uses a different name to describe the software and GPS tie in, they all offer much the same benefit: complete information about tractor time, distance, fuel, and inputs. Gathering and controlling this information has become a critical feature for advanced tractors and their attachments like sprayers, seeders, and combines. These integrated farm management systems provide the accounting data for managing current crops and future ones to a precision never dreamed of in the past.


The future for tractors appears to be leading towards new engines with almost zero emissions, and more operator friendly consoles. All of these features will make farming an even more technologically advanced area leading to more consistent food production for the world.

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