Pulling needs lots of horsepower, and that means more weight

Special Report: Will farming make a u-turn?

One of the advantages of putting implements on top of a platform instead of pulling them is that the engine can be smaller and the combined weight much less.
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The developer of the DOT Autonomous Power Platform says it will substantially reduce soil compaction and cut fuel usage by up to 20 per cent.

It’s just physics, said Norbert Beaujot.

“There is a big waste in pulling something versus having it mounted onto the body of the prime mover,” he says. “(Pulling) burns more fuel and requires more weight.”

As well, not having to pull implements eliminates the need for “all the wheels and hitches and fancy folding devices, so that affects weight.”

“Long story short, tractors need about 150 pounds per horsepower,” said Beaujot. “When a tractor’s towing something at low speeds it needs that ratio not to spin out, so a 200-horsepower tractor has to be as much as 30,000 pounds.”

That weight comes in part from ballast in the front, back, and tires of the tractor plus the weight of the cab and other creature comforts. Beaujot’s machine weighs just 12,000 pounds but the implement and products it’s carrying provide sufficient weight for things such as draft and tractive effort needed to operate on soil.

The platform’s light weight also gives it an edge when it comes to reducing soil compaction. “With a smaller unit your tanks are much smaller and your localized compaction is a lot less,” said Beaujot. “We were able to design the DOT unit so it creates a tramline effect for the spraying components. It’s in rows that aren’t too wide and yet spread out enough that the compaction isn’t crazy.

“You don’t have that luxury when you’re trying to carry 1,000 bushels and you have a 600-horsepower tractor. A lot of the weight and horsepower on conventional tractors is a pure waste because when we build a tractor that pulls something we have to put a whole bunch of weight on it that’s equal to what’s behind it. With DOT, the weight is put to it by the product itself.”

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