Think different

Is it possible to replace two medium powered crawler tractors with a half-track tractor? Feasible, with New Holland T8 SmartTrax, thanks to efficiency and versatility.

Costantino Radis

An exceptional location. We are in the Marche region, a stone’s throw from Urbino, in a company that focuses on organic and a strong presence of mechanical processing. Sometimes rolling hills, sometimes steep, where the soil is compact, hard and difficult. But also generous and gentle. And it is here that the New Holland  T8 SmartTrax has solved the application problems of the Estate of Santi Giacomo and Filippo: the need to work in soils with sleep slopes to perform deep plowing required by the company organic protocol. Not only. The double need to move quickly on the road between the plots that, in some cases, are a few kilometers apart. Tasks carried out efficiently thanks to the high grip on the slope, the simplicity of steering, the equilibrium in the balance achieved with the long wheelbase, the comfort of the suspension, the continuously variable Auto Command CVT transmission and, above all, the rear rubber crawler. A concentration of energy that uses the FPT Cursor 9 engine with ECOBlue HI-eSCR technology that produces 435 HP of maximum power in this version. We have analyzed and tested it in the typical working conditions found in a large part of the national territory: a deep ploughing on a slope with variable, and in some cases, quite accentuated inclination. A working condition where a wheeled tractor, even a high-powered one, fails to operate with the necessary safety and productivity margins. So much so that in the Estate of Santi Giacomo and Filippo the new T8 SmartTrax replaced two steel crawler tractors that were normally used in this operating context. An increase of efficiency that has led to a significant reduction of the total consumption per hectare thanks to a substantial increase of productivity.  With operator comfort not comparable with the past.

On sloping ground without regretting the classic crawler tractors

A thankless task. It is the one to which the New Holland T8 SmartTrax was called, in action at the Estate of Santi Giacomo and Filippo in Pantiera (PU). It is not easy task to replace two medium-high power crawler tractors. Especially when the working scenarios are the steep and tenacious Marche hills. Together with Marco Tomassetti, responsible for the Estate of Santi Giacomo and Filippo, we were able to understand that we made a wise choice that increased the overall company efficiency. “The productivity per hectare is significantly increased” Tomassetti explains “as the T8 works with a four-furrow plough against a single moldboard of the crawler tractor used up to now. The overall consumption per hectare has decreased and it is no longer necessary to transport the machines with a trailer in the most distant plots. The estate has in fact two large operational units far from each other some kilometers, that require multipurpose machines”. The New Holland T8 SmartTrax has in fact proved to be a productive investment that has allowed to plough both downhill and uphill, optimizing cycle times. With average slip percentages of 5% and, therefore, definitely lower that the average of 17% usually reached by wheeled tractors of the same power range on less steep slopes. Thanks also to a Merito plough which has shown an optimal balance that has proved to be necessary on slopes of this nature. During the headland turn manoeuvres the balance of the T8 was fundamental, with a wheelbase of 3,550 mm and a correct sizing of the front ballast, performed well despite the very steep slopes. The crawler footprint on the ground, in this specific case tracks with a width of 76,2 cm were chosen, has provided a very high lateral stability which allows to operate with a higher safety coefficient despite the T8 dimensions and its imposing size. The operating weight of over 16,000 kg, in fact, if on the one side it is fundamental to be productive with a machine of this class, on the other side it is for sure an element that must managed on the slopes.

The front steering axle becomes a fundamental element to manage the work on a slope as it allows to make an important contribution to the directionality of the tractor. On equal terms, compared to a classic crawler tractor, it allows, in fact, to counteract the action of the gravitational force on slopes by increasing the safety of the machine and allowing the operator to focus more on manouvres. The other essential aspect is the comfort of use which is not remotely comparable to that of steel-tracked tractors. During our test, held in mid-summer, we had the opportunity to see the validity of the T8 series air conditioning system. Not only. The sound pressure inside the cabin allows you to maintain a very high concentration thanks to the low noise level. The declared value of 67 dB(A) leads in fact the T8 towards the modern premium saloon cars at a cruising speed of 130 km/h. “Deep ploughing in these contexts” Marco Tomassetti explains “may seem a contradiction in a period in which modern farming companies are moving towards minimum tillage. But working according to the organic protocol, in order to eliminate weeds, Intense mechanical processing is needed. The arrival of the T8 SmartTrax has enabled us to substantially rationalize the working cycle by operating on efficiency. An important but necessary investment which has allowed us to reduce the overall consumption of diesel oil while increasing productivity with a wider worked surface, per unit time, than using tractors with steel tracks. Long-standing and surely outdated machines that, however, are still widely used on our hills. A change of mentality is certainly needed to lead the farms to a new way of thinking”.

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