Productive farming depends on the efficient use of precious resources – basic elements such as healthy soils, water and air, and manufactured inputs, such as fertilisers, crop protection products and fuel, created from finite raw products. This is why productivity and sustainability are not incompatible, and why Case IH solutions for productive farming are also those which are already having a positive impact on the sustainability of agriculture. Today, these technologies are becoming ever more closely integrated, for the benefit both of farmers and of the environment in which they – and the rest of the population – are a part.
This isn't a recent development. From our pioneering articulated tracked tractor introduction back in the mid-1990s, through automated steering systems to more recent data gathering and sharing developments, each innovation has been designed not only to benefit farm productivity, but also to help sustain the natural resources on which the world depends.
INNOVATORS IN TRACK SYSTEMS
Taking our innovative approach to track technology as an example, in 1996 we were the first to develop an articulated tracked tractor, the Quadtrac, that ensures maximum pulling power per litre of fuel, minimum compacted soil area and, via pivot steering, minimal soil disturbance when turning at row ends and headlands, eliminating the scuffing caused by differential steering with twin-tracked tractors. It also means reductions in compaction, water run-off, and requirement for additional fuel and wearing metal to rectify soil damage. With the Magnum Rowtrac rear track development, in 2015 we again innovated by bringing an alternative, soil-friendly steering method to the 300-400hp tracked tractor bracket, complementing our established leadership in the sector above this. And, of course, our Axial-Flow combine line also benefits from our track expertise, permitting large, high-efficiency grain tank loads to be supported on long, narrow footprints to minimise soil impact.
LEADERS IN MINIMISING FUEL USE AND EMISSIONS
Our engines, sourced from sister firm FPT Industrial, are as efficient as they are productive, benefiting both users and the environment. A Case IH Maxxum 145 Multicontroller equipped with the three-range/eight-step semi-powershift ActiveDrive 8 transmission achieved the lowest specific fuel consumption ever recorded for a four-cylinder tractor in the PowerMix test conducted Germany's DLG) testing station, with an average figure of 258 g/kWh in the Field Work section of the test, almost 9.5% lower than the figure recorded by its nearest competitor.
We've also shown our commitment to clean air by being one of the first manufacturers to reveal how we will meet EU Stage V emissions legislation, unveiling updated Optum CVXDrive models at November's EIMA show in Italy. Working with our sister business FPT Industrial, our latest technology, covered by a total of 13 different patents, uses no exhaust gas recirculation, minimises fuel consumption and maximises combustion efficiency, while service interval extensions mean oil is used for longer.
Of course, for an engine to put its power to the ground efficiently it needs a transmission to match. Case IH was among the first to introduce the fuel-efficiency benefits of continuously variable transmissions to the tractor industry, and our CVXDrive option is now available on models from the Maxxum to the Quadtrac and Steiger. By matching engine speed to workload, CVXDrive technology ensures the extraction of maximum performance from every litre of fuel, benefiting both the owner and the environment. But it's not just our top-of-the-range transmission technology that helps save diesel. Our PowerDrive full powershifts and ActiveDrive semi-powershifts also help minimise fuel use, with the ActiveDrive 8, as fitted in eight-speed form to the Tractor of the Year 2019, the Maxxum 145 Multicontroller, providing the fuel efficiency of a semi-powershift transmission plus advanced features such as Autoshift automatic shifting.
PARALLEL PASSES WITH MINIMAL OVERLAP
Steering and guidance technology has obviously also had a huge impact on sustainable productivity. AccuGuide auto-steering, part of our suite of Advanced Farming System (AFS) technologies, minimises fuel and crop input use by guaranteeing parallel passes with minimal overlap down to as little as 2.5cm when used with RTK correction, and also aids efficient full cutting-width harvesting. Case IH's commitment to this technology is illustrated clearly through investment in our own RTK+ correction mast network, with recent enhancements including the addition of the European Galileo system to the satellite networks with which RTK+ operates, cutting the variability margin to 1.5cm and reducing the likelihood of signal loss even further. The recent introduction of AccuTurn Pro means the same level of accuracy can be achieved on row ends and headlands, with the tractor steering itself precisely into the next pass. Not only do they make operation more efficient, but these steering technologies – plus Case IH ergonomic control design such as the Multicontroller armrest – also ensure the sustainability of employment in agriculture, making farming a more enjoyable and attractive occupation.
REDUCING YIELD VARIABILITY, MAXIMISING HARVESTING EFFICIENCY
Case IH was also one of the pioneers in yield mapping, with our AFS system for Axial-Flow combines allowing lower- and higher-yielding field areas to be identified. Today, it's possible to sustainably increase yields by evening-out field performance through targeting those underperforming areas using variable rate technology for seeds and crop inputs. And for harvest 2019, new Axial-Flow 250 series combines are available with new Harvest Command automation, which benefits sustainability as well as efficiency by automatically altering combine settings to minimise grain loss, maximise throughput per litre of fuel and ensure the maximum amount of high-quality, undamaged grain gets to the store.
LINKING TECHNOLOGIES THROUGH DIGITALISATION
The benefits of these technologies are now being brought together by the power of digitalisation, further enhancing their contributions to both productivity and sustainability. With Case IH AFS Connect telematics, we already have the ability for farmers to monitor in real time, record and analyse the performance of their equipment, to maximise the individual efficiency of machines and hence the overall efficiency of the business and its inputs. As just one example, knowledge of the exact location of tractors and combines can ensure grain transport is kept as fuel-efficient as possible. Data gathering and sharing allows dealers to identify potential areas for productivity gains in the field and improvements in operating technique that could further enhance machine and business efficiency, and ensure best use of valuable resources as a result. With a raft of new precision tools joining the Case IH product portfolio, such as SIMA 2019 Innovation Award-winning XPower 'digital herbicide' weed control technology that uses no chemicals, we are at an exciting new stage of development in the growth of our business providing productive yet sustainable farm equipment.