Agritechnica 2015: What's new for tractors

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John Deer 9RX John Deere picked up four gold medals specifically for tractor innovation at Agritechnica and recently released its first series of 4-tracked tractors the 9RX pictured. John Deer 9RX
Tractor of the year The Fendt Vario 1050 has been named Tractor of the Year at Agritechnica Tractor of the year
Valtra design winner The Valtra N174V landed the Golden Design Award at Agritechnica Valtra design winner

Here's the future for two aspects of tractor technology showcased at Agritechnica, the largest farm machinery show in the world.

One: Traction efficiency

At this year’s Agritechnica many components and additional options will be presented aiming to improve the power transfer of tractors during pulling work.

Examples include the EZ inter-axle ballasting system from John Deere, or the two Vario-Grip Pro and Grip Assistant systems from Fendt.

One key element for converting engine power into tractive power is the transmission. With the new VarioDrive transmission for tractors in the 1000 Series, Fendt have once again demonstrated its innovative thrust.

This transmission is based on the known Vario concept and continues to exhibit an initially coupled basic structure and an altogether simple composition.

A new feature is the use of two summing shafts, each powered by a large-angle hydraulic motor. One shaft drives the rear axle, the other the front axle.

The hydraulic connection between the hydraulic pump and the motors permits a hydrostatic longitudinal differential effect, which allows permanent and above all torsion-free all-wheel drive.

This is beneficial, for example, when cornering, or in the case of strong tyre compression under heavy axle loads.

If strong wheel slip occurs on an axle, the longitudinal differential effect can be barred via a coupling.  The hydraulic motor for the front axle can be uncoupled for road travel.

In conjunction with the substantially reduced engine speeds needed to reach the maximum speeds allowed in a country, low fuel consumption rates in road use can be expected.

Two: Improved unladen weight/payload ratio

With heavy rear-mounted implements and corresponding front ballasting, tractors quickly reach their payload limits.

In the past, some manufacturers have tried to design the bodies of their tractors with frame concepts for higher payloads without increasing the unladen weight (e.g. John Deere with the three-quarter steel frame, or Fendt with the cast half-frame). 

For a few years now there has been a trend towards engine oil pans with a pronounced chassis function.

By contrast with the conventional block construction design the oil pan and the crankcase assume the supporting function together.

In the new solutions this function is allocated primarily to the oil pan. For this purpose it is generally executed as a chassis component with stiffening ribs.

Examples on the market to date include the 7R Series from John Deere, or the 800 Series Axions from Claas.

New followers of this trend are Case-IH and New Holland with the Optum and T7 HD Series.

But what demands will actually be made of tractors in the future?

"Attention will certainly focus on the demands made by customers," says Bern University of Applied Sciences Lecturer in Agricultural Engineering Roger Stirnimann.

"These can be very diverse, especially for manufacturers with global operations.

"The demands of a tractor made by a customer in a newly industrialising country, who is perhaps taking the first real step from animal traction to a tractor, are likely to be quite different from those made by a professional contractor in Western Europe," he says.

"Different demands also arise from the different levels of regulation and legislation prevailing around the world, for example as regards exhaust gas emissions.

"However, ‘internal’ factors must also be taken into account among the tractor manufacturers and sales organisations, such as for instance assembly processes, options for upgrading with accessories, or ease of repairs."

Coming soon: This year’s Tractor of the Year winners on video. 

Winner Tractor of the Year: Fendt 1050 Vario

Winner Best Utility: Massey Ferguson 5713Sl

Winner Best of Specialised: Same Frutteto S 90.3 ActiveDrive

Winner Golden Tractor for Design Valtra N174 V

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