The big, blue 18-tonne New Holland T8.435 tractor is not the heaviest or the tallest in the world but its £3,000 tyres and tank-style tracks stand two metres high, it bristles with antenna and at, about £250,000, it must be one of the most expensive.
For that, the farmer gets a monster machine that is revolutionising big farming, field by field. Its steering is assisted by satellite, it downloads data about crops and soil straight to agronomists and farm managers, works 24-7, can link with ground sensors and drones using infrared thermal cameras and tell to within a square metre the size of a field and where the most fertile or waterlogged places are.
Better still, says Johnny Spence, a young driver from Northern Ireland demonstrating it on a large arable farm near Darlington last month, it’s as comfortable as a saloon car.
“I could spend 18 hours a day in it, no problem. It lets me spend more time looking at the field rather than trying to steer it. It makes a poor driver good, and a good driver better. It’s brilliant to drive.”
But the T8.435 is the very big tip of a huge change taking place in Britain’s fields. According to Ken Grimsdell, whose company is growing crops on 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) in the Midlands, a farm manager may soon be able to live and work in Germany, run machines in Essex, download weather data from the US and sell the produce on the global market.
For more of this story visit: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/20/hi-tech-agriculture-is-freeing-farmer-from-his-fields