Here are 5 tips on how to optimize the use of your tractor on the farm.
Mechanization is a key factor that improves the efficiency of agricultural activities. The tractor occupies a special place in the mechanization of agriculture but also in the budget of farmers.
Besides the investment cost of a tractor and the cost of running it every day, this machine, if not well managed could represent a heavy burden on the budget of many farmers, but it is nonetheless indispensable equipment. Farmers must be aware of the importance of making a return on their investment and the means to achieve it. Here are five tips that could help tractor owners optimize the use of a tractor and limit the excess costs associated with its operation.
1. Let the right tractor do the right job
Choosing the right tractor depends on several factors. First, you have to determine the power requirement based on the implements used. For example, a tractor with an engine power of 120 HP is not suitable for the use of a 2 discs plough. For tillage implements, it is necessary to take into account the width of the tillage implement as well as its depth and the quality of the soil, in particular its moisture. Then, you have to be aware of the duration of use of your tractor. The farm's agricultural activity must be large enough to make the purchase profitable. There is no need to invest in a tractor for one-off use. According to several surveys carried out on farms in Morocco, the average use of tractors is currently at 500 hours/year or less than 1.5 hours per day. Normally, to be able to make the purchase of a tractor profitable, it would have to be used 1000h / year, think about it.
2. Know the tractor engine
To limit the costs associated with using a tractor, you must learn to drive it economically. For this, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the engine: curves of power, torque, and fuel consumption.
First of all, avoid working in the partial load zone that is to say between maximum speed and nominal speed because fuel consumption is very high at this stage. Next, it should be noted that the full load zone, which lies between the nominal speed and the maximum torque speed, generates a stable consumption approaching that of the maximum torque speed.
In order to have a good relationship between the optimum engine speed and the desired forward speed, it is preferable to have a gearbox with several gears and a suitable scale between the gears. These factors allow for flexibility of use and optimized engine-transmission management.
3. Tractor grip / traction
Horsepower is not the only factor to consider in order to optimize the use of the tractor: the grip between the ground and the tires is also an important consideration. Landslides, for example, cause energy losses and therefore unnecessary fuel costs and wear and tear. The right conditions allow you to transmit the necessary traction torque to minimize energy waste and tire wear. To do this, we must pay attention to three factors:
How to increase tractor traction:
· Choose wide tires with a large diameter and in good condition.
· Reduce the tire pressure, within the recommended measures, of course.
· Pair the drive wheels.
· Go for a
four-wheel-drive or track wheels
Several means are used to increase the weight of the tractor: inflating the wheels with water or adding weight. Inflating wheels with water, front weight, rear weight, and belly weight are the most common ballasting techniques used.
Trailed implements also add weight to the rear axle. For example, the use of a mounted implement attached to the three-point hitch of the hydraulic lift increases the weight of the machine by up to 20%.
While ballasting improves grip, you should still be careful to use this technique in moderation. Excessive loads can lead to rolling losses and therefore energy losses.
4. The tractor-implement linkage
The trailed and mounted implements play a critical role in the capabilities of a tractor. As mentioned earlier, the 3-point hitch increases the load and therefore the grip on the ground. If the implement adjustments are incorrectly made, they generate unnecessary forces that may interfere with the work of the tractor. For example, adjusting the point tilt of a plow allows proper alignment with the pull line. In the event of misalignment, the driver will have to steer continuously which is both exhausting and also causes overconsumption of fuel.
5. Good maintenance
Like any machine, the tractor must be well maintained: oil draining, changing filters, servicing the air filter (which can cause 7% to 10% overconsumption in the event of blockage). Certain more technical maneuvers must also be carried out regularly, such as checking the injectors. The performance of a machine is checked through the test bench, which makes it possible to detect malfunctions and establish overconsumption and curve measurement.