Machinery Efficiency

October 7, 2013

I mentioned before that the use of farm equipment in the United States in most cases is very inefficient. In Brazil average hours per tractor is 4,000, in Europe around 2000, in the U.S., not more than 1,000. But even this load per tractor, power-wise, is as well very low. Do not take my word for it – just ask your equipment dealer to show you a data from your tractor load history monitor. You will be unpleasantly surprised.

So, how we can improve it? The sources of machinery efficiency (ME) are the machinery itself, technology and aggregation, and minimization of downtime. All these items are interconnected. As for equipment, we know that a compatitable and optimized set of equipment has more advantages, is more productive and easier to use as compared with a historically assembled system.

The optimization of implement lines for a given tractor and farm size is a huge separate topic. I will mentioned only major points. For instance soil preparation, fertilizer and chemicals applications, and planting can be combined in one, or it can be four different applications. The idea is to equalize the load for each operation based on an available time frame for it.

You need to look for highest power demanding operation and a time frame in which you are trying to complete it. Usually this is planting. On the rest of operations excess of power can be compensated by speed increase.

These considerations will lead you to desired productivity or speed and implement width for the most crucial operation.

The next step will be an optimization of tractor power for existing and planned implements. The general concept of matching tractor power and implement size is pretty well described here:http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/crops/pdf/a3-26.pdf

You can request more detailed power requirements from a particular implement dealer. After you determine a necessary tractor power, the next step is to choose the most fuel efficient tractor. Tractor fuel efficiency consists of

  • Engine efficiency
  • Fan and cooling package efficiency
  • Hydraulic system efficiency and
  • Transmission parasitic losses

Nebraska tests reports (http://tractortestlab.unl.edu/testreports ) have a combined fuel efficiency for normal weather. For hot weather, the deviation between equally rated tractors of different brands can be up to 15kW. You need to know fan RPM range and look for fan speed at normal conditions.

The difference in transmission oil level from minimum to maximum may create up to 20 kW power difference in transport.

Sometimes farmers are buying an extra powerful tractor just for little time reduction for critical operations. You also need to have in mind that the more powerful tractor consumes more fuel per hour at any partial regime and RPM than less powerful tractor with the same hardware.

Nebraska tests reports can help you to choose correct/suitable tractor for your applications by power and assess fuel efficiency for your applications.

This data also will allow you to calculate the volume of fuel needed for whole operations during a year. Most of the companies submit internally tested tractors for these tests with best expected results. That is why this data is useful for your control, and raise a concern for a service call in case of significant deviations of your records from a test report. Fuel efficiency data also may help you decide in favor of one brand or another. For instance, a tractor can be cheaper, but consume more fuel and that’s why it’s more expensive in long run to own.

Somebody may think that this is unimportant, but in Europe farmers in most cases during a year put more fuel in a tractor, than tractor cost itself.


During work you need also to monitor tires slippage. In most cases this can be controlled with correct tire pressure. Some tractors allow adjustments on-the-go.

And finally downtime – it consists of two major components: equipment reliability (including technical support) and fleet management.

Fleet management will allow you to complete more jobs per week, reduce fuel costs, track and schedule maintenance, view proof of work done and time in the field, optimize scheduling and routing, reduce administration, time sheets etc.

Write us to tell what you would like to discuss next.

Posted by Andrey Skotnikov at 9:09pm

Posted to: Uncategorized

A glimpse of the future

May 6, 2013

A glimpse of the future

With today’s state of ag equipment, technology and existing seeds, crop production can be increased in existing areas by 50 percent or even doubled. On top of that the cost of crop production of such yield in existing borders can be reduced by 10 to 20 percent.

I feel your doubts. That’s why I invite you to take a glimpse at the future, discuss how we can reach these goals, and what might be preventing us from doing so.

In previous blogs, I have mentioned three existing issues:

  • Real yield is far below the biological potential of any crop.
  • The use of farm equipment in the U.S. in most cases is very inefficient.
  • The key issue – the knowledge required to improve yield and efficiency is growing, but often not integrated into a farming operation – and sometimes difficult to find.

Let’s Share the Knowledge!

What will we see in the future? We start as always looking at the whole Farming System.

The major components of the Farming System are the technologies of crop or animal production, machinery placed on the land and managed by the farmer, and supporting services interconnected with each other.


Communications will be quicker, more reliable, higher coverage density, have more security for data transfer, include cloud computing, use more mobile devices for support, etc.


The communication between machines, machine-to-remote user, and machine-to-office will be significantly improved and become user-friendly. All field applications like guidance and VRT will be more precise and reliable.

Tractors, self-propelled equipment and implement will be equipped with ISOBUS. It will enable interoperability between different manufacturers of ECUs at any point in time and provide important features for the users:

•           Manufacturer-spanning interoperability between implement and tractor.

•           Use of a single input/output terminal (virtual terminal) for all implements.

So, look for the term ISOBUS-complaint when buying new equipment.

The competition among companies will be on the level of technologies providing more efficient equipment usage (automation, remote control, reliability, and diagnostics).

Irrigation equipment and technologies will become more efficient with remote monitoring and control.

Drones and remote sensing

We will see more drones in the sky. Their creators are fearlessly fighting for air space and rights to fly. Remote sensing, monitoring and usage of drones will become more affordable and wide-spread for more applications. You will see the presentation about their applications during our event.


There is a growing understanding of the necessity to support crop growing technologies with a more integrated knowledge base.

For example, Monsanto is working on Integrated Farming Systems. Syngenta has AgriEdge. Land O’Lakes has WinField Solutions. These are some of the developments you will see.

Seed producing companies will have more detailed data and technology descriptions. The competition among companies will be on the level of technologies providing sustainably higher yield.

New means of transportation

We see in near future more hybrid aircraft. The U.S. Department of Commerce is recognizing this technology as qualifying for commerce corridor funding. The implementation of the hybrid aircraft contributes also directly and broadly to the missions of both USAID and to the United Nations World Food Program.




New renewable energy sources like solar, wind and biogas will find more applications and usage in rural areas.

Custom crop production will grow.

Knowledge Integration

In order to accelerate all these developments we need to increase Knowledge Sharing and Integration, create better, more detailed market data, and have better data bases for everything involved in agriculture.

Our presenters will show you how to increase ROI integrating the existing knowledge and what will be possible in near future.

We believe that derivatives of Knowledge Sharing will be:

  • Self-learning program for crop growing recommendations.

-          Programs of applications of all nutrients inputs.

  • National and worldwide demand for agriculture inputs.
  • National and world-wide logistics programs for inputs and harvested yield delivery.
  • Equipment service programs.
  • Equipment and parts planning programs.
  • National and worldwide ag work and crop growing monitoring.
  • Independent recommendations for best practices and seeds for participating areas.
  • The possibility to arrange service franchises.



Let’s discuss what should we do and how.

Posted by Andrey Skotnikov at 11:23pm

Posted to: Uncategorized

Required databases for crop optimization

October 11, 2012

In order to optimize a crop production process it is necessary to have several databases. Below are examples of required databases. All data should be georeferenced.
1. Equipment (spec, prices, location)
1.1. Tractors
1.2. Implements
1.3. Sprayers
1.4. Harvesters
1.5. Irrigation
1.6. Feeders
1.7. Dryers
1.8. Transport
1.9. Loaders

2. Inputs (spec, prices, location)
2.1 Seeds
2.2 Fertilizer
2.3 Chemicals
2.4 Water
2.5 Fuel
2.6 Oil
2.7 Feed

3. Commodities (spec, prices, location)

4. Weather
4.1 GDD (growing degree days)
4.2 Precipitations
4.3 Temperatures
4.4 Winds

5. Farm Geography (all data georeferenced)
5.1 Farm field maps
5.1.1 Contour 3D
5.1.2 Soil physics (at least sand/clay ratio)
5.1.3 Soil NPK
5.1.4 Soil Humus
5.1.5 Soil pH
5.2 Infrastructure
5.2.1 Delivery Channels (Roads, railways, rivers, airstrips, airports)
5.2.2 Electricity
5.2.3 Water
5.2.4 Processing plants
5.2.5 Storage facilities
5.2.6 Services (Finances, Insurance, Machinery, Agronomy, Legal, Veterinary, etc.)

In the first step the program will show crops suitable for local area.
Then crop rotation and technology optimization will follow.

Posted by Andrey Skotnikov at 8:20pm

Posted to: Uncategorized