A look across the Atlantic Ocean shows several interesting trends in tractor technology. Smaller fields and narrow roads influence Western European machinery. Conversely, expansive land and production potential drive the trends in Eastern Europe.
Machinery manufacturers now have two distinct customer demands: highly sophisticated and maneuverable equipment for the intensively farmed and densely populated West; and more basic, high-output machines for the East. The following trends have emerged as a result.
1 Higher horsepower
Leading the technology charge in Western Europe are row-crop tractors with 350 to 380 engine horsepower. There's no reason why the power limit should not increase to more than 400 hp, providing tire technology keeps up. These European high-horsepower tractors aren't just basic pulling machines. They come equipped with all of the latest and most sophisticated technologies—everything from electronic lift control and continuously variable transmissions (CVT) to ISOBUS universal controls and the latest GPS guidance systems.
2 Niche tractors with more power and narrow width
Two years ago, Fendt previewed a prototype of a six-wheel tractor; this past year, Deutz-Fahr unveiled its Agro XXL eight-wheeler. These are tractors with 450 hp (Fendt) to 600 hp (Deutz-Fahr) and a transport width of less than 9.9'.
This "narrow” configuration enables the high-horsepower tractors to not only work for a couple of weeks in the field but also to extend their use to towing trailers and tanks and jobs such as mowing—either with mowers in reverse mode or with one mower at the front and two at the rear—with a working width of 30' to 36'.
3 Highly sophisticated multiuse tractors
Claas is continually refining its Xerion, a huge workhorse with multiple cab configurations, four wheels of equal size and steering options. Claas recently expanded the series to include two models with 480 and 524 engine horsepower, two steered axles and a top travel speed of more than 31 mph.
4 Electronics for more precise and comfortable work
- February 2010