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The limiting factor in matching ploughs to tractors is still the amount of power available, plus the challenges set by soil type and terrain.
An interesting development, which seems to address the former, comes from drive-line specialists ZF, working on electrifying farm machinery via a generator system to fit conventional tractors.
Flywheel mounted, and available in high or low voltage outputs, the units can go into a hybrid driveline for the tractor itself, or to generate power for electrically driven implements. Present examples include the prototype rake from Fendt, fertiliser spreaders from Rauch and sprayers from Amazone.
The technology also lends itself to trailed implements, using a powered-hub system in an axle to help propel, say, trailers or slurry tankers, and perhaps equally useful for cultivation equipment.
In a two-year trial, a powered land-wheel design was fitted to a Pottinger Servo plough pulled by a Deutz Fahr tractor. Using a 200hp TTV tractor as the base unit, a ZF onboard gen-set was installed between the engine and transmission.
Starting with a six-furrow reversible plough, deemed to be a good match for the tractor, engineers found that with the driven land wheel engaged, the tractor easily pulled the unit.
Adding a seventh furrow did little to slow the tractor, which was still travelling too fast to get good inversion of the furrows. Adding an eighth furrow brought the tractor back to a speed comparable with the unaided six-furrow set-up, at which point the work rate had been increased by 33%.
It’s an exciting concept, as growers try to rein in costs, especially given lower commodity prices.