JOHN Deere last week announced plans to develop an electric tractor after the cat was let out of the bag by French judges of the 2017 SIMA Innovation Awards.
The prototype was awarded a "Special Mention" honour in the awards which are a prelude to the SIMA International Agribusiness Show, to be held on February 26 to March 2, 2017 in Paris.
Deere call the prototype a SESAM tractor (Sustainable Energy Supply for Agricultural Machinery) and according to the company, it is the first high electrical power that has the features and functionality of a "classic" tractor while providing the benefits of electricity.
The SESAM tractor is a key element of Deere's vision of the farm of the future - autonomous energy.
The prototype, designed on the chassis of a 6R tractor from Mannheim, Germany, develops a power rating of 130kW (175hp), with two independent electric motors linked to a DirectDrive transmission.
In standard operation, a motor is used for driving, the other for the PTO shaft and the hydraulic system.
If necessary, the two electric motors may be combined to provide the power either to traction or to the PTO shaft or the hydraulic system.
In addition, the combination of an electrical drive with gearing provides similar driving experience to that of a continuously variable transmission.
The optimum transmission ratio is systematically chosen according to the use desired by the driver.
When the tractor is stationary, there is no energy loss.
It produces no emissions and virtually no noise.
Currently, a full battery charge can work about four hours in normal use or drive a distance of about 55km.
The charging time is about three hours and the lifespan of the battery is about 3100 charge cycles.
Your favourite back packer will get a real shock when you land one of these on the farm.
IoT is really taking off
ISRAELI electronic manufacturer Sol Chip could describe its newest 'toy' as a chip off the old block.
The company, which is a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) systems and energy harvesting solutions, last week announced the introduction of its Sol Chip Comm (SCC) autonomous, wireless, solar tag.
The device is an ultra-compact, maintenance-free, solar-powered, wireless tag which powers, controls and wirelessly connects a wide variety of sensors to the cloud.
SCC feeds real-time data readings from up to hundreds of sensors, including those that monitor soil moisture, soil temperature, ambient temperature, air temperature, nutrients levels, et al, into a precision farming application server.
This essential data gathered by SCC is analysed by a precision ag application in order to make data-driven adjustments for optimising water and fertilisation consumption by plants and thus improving crop yields.
Based on Sol Chip's energy harvesting technology, SCC is designed to operate continuously for more than 10 years with no maintenance requirements, removing the need to constantly replace and discard batteries.
"With our LightBattery technology, Sol Chip is uniquely positioned to realise our vision of enabling billions of autonomous IoT devices for many different market sectors in a way that is cost effective and environmentally sustainable," company founder and CEO Dr Shani Keysar said.
Last week Sol Chip demonstrated the SCC device at the Irrigation Show in Las Vegas, where chips of another kind are being used by happy campers.
In WA the majority of farmers will continue to farm, letting the 'chips' fall where they may.
It's called playing the season and if the 'clouds' can't deliver, we're chipped, to use a more polite term.
Kubota on the move
TORQUE reported earlier this year the expansive plans of the Kubota Tractor Corporation.
And last week the company announced it was expanding its hay offering with two new silage balers and a new trailed disc mower roller-conditioner.
The expanded hay tools continues to demonstrate Kubota's goals to become a major force in the ag market, including positioning itself as a full-line hay product supplier.
"Our entrance into the hay market nearly three years ago was an all-in commitment," Kubota senior product manager Dave Palmer said.
"And these new balers make sure we are able to meet the demands of our hay customers in markets where silage is starting to develop, enabling them to produce a feed source of much higher quality for their livestock.
"Our dealers continue to provide us with good feedback on what their customers need in the changing market environment, and we respond by developing the products that they not only need, but ones that makes their lives better by making their operations more efficient."
In 2012, Kubota acquired Kverneland, which was originally founded in 1879 and has greatly contributed to the agricultural industry with an impressive number of product innovations and concepts.
Since that time, the full-line of hay implements and balers have been introduced with the Kubota brand name.
Kubota's new round baler series will include two new models - the BV4160SS and the BV4180SS - that are designed specifically for producers who need the additional silage features.
The new disc mower-conditioner, designated the DMC8540R, is designed with a 3.9m (13ft) working width with full-width chevron conditioner rollers and a Kubota-patented, fully-welded cutterbar.
Kubota already is making big market inroads in North America and when Torque spoke with Kubota Tractor Australia managing director Toshihiko Kawasaki in September, he was in no doubt the company's aspirations of becoming the world's top manufacturer of agricultural equipment, was on track.
Mr Kawasaki said he expected Kubota to become a major player in North America and Europe as a full-line supplier embracing most facets of agriculture, including precision technology.
Can't wait to see a Kubota header.