University of Nebraska researchers say tractor-testing techniques need to be updated.
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is funding their premise with a the four-year grant of nearly $473,000.
Santosh Pitla, assistant professor of Advanced Machinery Systems in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, says tractors are high-tech now, but methods used to test their performance have not kept pace.
“We need to test tractors in mixed-mode,” Pitla tells Nebraska Radio Network, “which means we need to be applying drawbar, power takeoff, and hydraulic force simultaneously.”
He says that more accurately reflects what happens in the field.
“If we can match the tractor to the implement, then we will be more fuel-efficient.”
The results could help farmers use their tractors more efficiently.
“A thousand dollars a horsepower is not a bad figure,” explains Roger Hoy, Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory director, tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, you buy a 280 horsepower tractor when a 250 horse would have worked. There’s an extra $30,000 in purchase price there.”
Sensors will be used to measure a tractor’s three power sources while operating on the Test Track and in the field.
“Tractors have changed tremendously,” Pitla says. “There are a lot of electronics, so it will be really neat to get this out into the field and collect useful data.”
Santosh says some farmers are using a tractor with too much power for the job they are performing, so matching the right tractor to the right planting or harvesting implement will save money.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:41]