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Tractors of the future and its tyres

Twenty-six journalists with expertise in agricultural mechanisation are currently judging contenders for the European Tractor of the Year (TotY) award. Tyre maker BKT, who sponsors the award, says the details on innovations presented by entrants forms “the identikit of the perfect tractor.”

The futuristic developments now available from many equipment manufacturers represent in their totality a vision for what will be possible in a single machine, BKT adds. These innovations include data connectivity and digitalisation, high-tech safety features, increased sustainability, and autonomous driving, as well as tyres that assist in delivering such improvements in the field.

Connectivity means the possibility of transferring significant quantities of data quickly and in a standard way; better control over the data will mean a better outcome and of course higher efficiency. Today, thanks to the growth in digital technologies, society has access to data which brings together environmental, climatic, and land-related factors. This allows farmers to intervene in a targeted way, making work processes more effective, complying with the due timeframes. The software systems installed on machines in the field return data with which it is possible to track and certify produce from the field through to the processing industry.

BKT says connectivity will be a valuable support also for the technical management of machines, forecasting their wear and tear for example and so planning the necessary maintenance, and hence a cost-saving process.

There is also a focus on safety as well as on comfort for the driver, through details which are essential for people working in difficult environments. These details are connected to digital mapping of the environment, climate, and type of terrain. Data on which the perfect machine will have to be capable of providing a response in real time, to protect the well-being of the driver.

BKT continues by saying a simple unforeseen summer storm can be anticipated by the direct satellite connection to the cabin, thus changing the work schedule. In the same way climate change, through digital information, will show other useful information, such as the need to change the pressure in the tyres for example, enabling ideal adaptation to changes in terrain. Finally, all the necessary information must be available inside the cabin, so everything is kept under control, and making it very easy to use.

At a rate dictated by environmental change, among new generation tractors are electric vehicles, tractors powered by alternative energy sources, solar or hydrogen.

Farmers must keep an eye on total costs in managing their cost-effectiveness, in terms of efficiency, consumption, and environmental impact, says BKT. All stages which, if controlled through the technology, can be planned, and hence offer a better vision in terms of general sustainability.

Autonomous driving
Tractors will not only be connected in order to transfer data, they will be connected to remote consoles also to be able to work autonomously, according to the tyre maker. Artificial intelligence will collect agronomic data from the sensors positioned directly in the field for example and the tractors can even have no cabin as there will be no driver. The next innovation we will see are engines which alternate hybrid and electric systems and semi-automatic tractors, which can even be controlled from a smartphone. The self-driving tractor will incidentally be available in the field before any other conventional vehicle on the road.

BKT adds that in this scenario the tyre industry is operating very flexibly thanks to its research, since the tyre is one of the fundamental components for vehicle performance, in global terms of environmental and economic sustainability.

The dialogue between the tyres and the machines is therefore a crucial point; an example of integration for the new generations of working vehicles are the sensors mounted on the tyre which can communicate to the vehicle the consumption of the tread or the compactness of the soil, in order to vary the tire pressure and so avoid wear and tear.

BKT concludes that thanks to its complete willingness to dialogue with its end users and with operators themselves, it is now facing up to the change, reassured by its own experience but also with an openness to innovation, and is engaged in and proactive towards the best solutions.

For more information on BKT Tyres contact Agrigear on 042 9666 444.