Tractors, tractors, tractors and tractors – a world record attempt for the rural readers but the city boys might like it too

action from the World Ploughing Championships held in Lincoln in October 2010The idea for this post was crowd sourced (all 2 of us) The STX 440 Quadtracon Twitter when I mentioned I was going to the Lincolnshire Show. The subject is tractors. Well one tractor in particular. I’m talking about the Steiger STX-440 Quadtrac. You know the beast. It’s manufactured by CaseIH. Also because I know you like this sort of thing I’ve included some photos of tractors down the ages.

Tractors these days are boys toys like no other. I got to sit in the cab although I daren’t touch anything. Partly because itme in the cab of the STX 440 Quadtrack was £200k’s worth of kit pulling another £60k of trailer. I could have been devastating. Mr Bean would have filled a whole series with the ensuing chaos.

In one sense the romance has disappeared from the tractor world. One man cocooned in his climate controlled (not air-conditioned as I was told more than once) cab, his hydraulic seat smoothing out the bumps so as not to distract him from watching his favourite episode of Emmerdale, can plant 100 – 150 acres of rape seed in one day, depending on the soil type. STX 440 Quadtrac trailerHis GPS system, accurate to 2 mm, ensures he covers every inch of field (mixing units here I know) with his ploughing, harrowing, planting weed killing or furtiloizing.

The tractor shown in the photo is one of two used to service the 3,500 acres of Westhall Farm Welton Cliff. Gone is the image of the lone ploughman following behind his horse struggling to plough an acre a day. The STX-440 with a 12/4 plough will do 10 acres an hour. It’s still a one man job mind you and I daresay the ploughman still likes his crust of breadSteiger STX-440 front view and cheese with a pickled onion, and no doubt a pint or two of his favourite local ale in the Royal Oak, or Rose and Crown, or Frog and Parrott or whatever it’s called these days.

Comms on board are limited to the GPS, a two way radio and a mobile phone. This surprised me. I thought it would be sending back real time data on progress. Instead the system inputs data onto an SD card (I think – I didn’t see it and Neil the tractor driver called it a microchip) which, when “full”, is then plugged into the farm computer for record keeping. Helen Rainthorpe of Westhall Farm has complete data on what has been done to every field on her farm going back 4 generations. Has the EC been going that long?

One of the fields, note, is 190 acres. It’s dimensions are all programmed into the system and all the driver does is turn the machine around when it gets to the end of the field (he must byhorse plough - the way it used to be now have seen absolutely every episode of Emmerdale since the year dot). The speed of progress is programmable and normally determined by what the Quadtrack is towing. If the field has a curve then the STX-440 will naturally follow the curve. There is more, If the field spans two counties which than mean two different lots of paperwork the system recognises this when compiling the data.

I don’t know how much diesel it can take but it needs a hugeThen in 1905 along came the Big Mac - eat yer heart out McDonalds :) tank. No miles per gallon here. It’s gallons per mile more like as its Drawbar power (max) is 371.35 hp (276.9kW) consumes 21.8 gallons (82.5l) per hour. Note the 8hp of the Titan steam tractor (photo inset).

If you’re interested the tractor is busy all year round – July until the end of Oct is prime time for wheat for next season. End of Jan to March/April is the time for planting for spring wheat and barley.

The Titan, with 8bhp came along in 1915 - looking more like a tractor

In finishing you should note the John Rainthorpe Quadtrac World Record attempt (I have an affinity with world record attempts) – “Most Quadtracs Cultivating In One Field” is taking place at WestHall Farm on 28th July. The event is in aid of Cancer Research – gates open at 11am – record attempt at 1pm. Give them your support – oo arr.

David Brown brings us into the modern era

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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  1. Trefor Davies

10 Comments

  1. btw I have one more Lincolnshire Show post in me – I took some nice animal photos – ahh. Not now though. Over the weekend maybe.

  2. Thanks Chin – there’s some good footage of paddy fields in there. Does anyone else have any favourite farming photos you can link to? 🙂

  3. Emailed comment from Helen Clarke:

    Many thanks Trefor. I can confirm that it is a compact flash card. Our spreader uses SD cards to record vari rate application of fertiliser to the field. Plenty here for the tech whizz kid! Satellite photos are taken prior to application to record the greeness of the wheat or rape canopy. Maps are then created and application rates. Once the data is fed into the control unit the tractor applies a variable rate to the field. GPS aids application. No steering help here though. Lots of fert for areas that need it and little to those that don’t. Resulting in an even canopy. Seeds are drilled in a similar way. This time soil maps are compiled from soil tests done prior to drilling. Heavy land gets more seeds per hec and lighter land less. Again it’s hoped to have a well established even canopy. Sorry if you’ve covered all this before. The combine has gps steering fitted very similar to the Quadtrac. It can also create yield maps whilst harvesting to give an idea of which areas are producing more t/hec. These are v useful to assess and inform crop production in future years. All the maps and data are then stored centrally and can be called on for various purposes. Again sorry if you already know about all this. Agriculture is becoming more technical. Sadly some farmers are scared of it and others embrace it. I love it!! I have been called gadget girl for quite a while!Nice to have net you and hope to see you on 28th. Thank you again for your plug of the event. Kind  regardsHelen

  4. Looking at the comment from Helen, I would think there’s adequate material for a major item on Country file to look at the impact of technology on farming. It’s not just arable stuff either, milking parlours are now hi-tech with computerised measurement of milk yields and so on.

  5. I have tried many angles with Countryfile and im still trying. I only recently became the 4th generation farmer having lost my dad. I now run 3500 acres so there’s the female farmer angle too. Do try to come to the Record attempt. 22 Quadtracs registered so far. Should be noisy if nothing else!!!

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