Farm and Harvest
Nothing on wheels beats the modern automobile for its high technology, right? Well, we use to think that. Before our sister television series Maryland Farm & Harvest clued us in on what’s touring around the 21st century farm. Well, we could argue about who’s on first all day long, but the best way to find out is to just dig into it.
The tractor has been a workhorse on American farms since the 1800's when it replaced actual horses. By 1907 about six hundred of these powerful machines roamed the fields.
“Today it's estimated that there are over five million tractors helping American farmers plant, grow, and harvest over nine hundred million acres of American farm land. Today we're going to put this big baby through its paces on both the road and in the field.”
We're at Atlantic Tractor in Queen Anne, Maryland checking out this impressive John Deere 8295R. Brian Peterman's been selling tractors for more than twenty-seven years.
John: Is this a standard tractor that a farmer might buy for a big farm?
Brian: This tractor would be a multi-purpose tractor. For this horsepower size it'd probably be used a lot for planting and seeding in the fall.
JOHN DAVIS: Farmers need to make sure they have the right equipment for the job, especially when a tractor like this one comes with price tag of two hundred fifty thousand dollars. A single tire can set you back four grand.
JOHN: How long does a farmer spend in a tractor on an average day?
Brian: At least ten to twelve hours.
John: Ten to twelve hours?
Brian: Sometimes more.
John: Brian, we're on the road now. Any tips about driving a tractor on the road, after all we are wider than a lane?
Brian: The most important tip is probably to make sure that your lights are on and all working. In today's world vehicles are driving much faster on the road and they're not paying attention to this large equipment.
John on Cam: "Now that we've seen what this John Deere 8295R can do on the asphalt it's time for a little off roading."
We found a local farmer who was happy to let us use his corn field just days after harvest. There aren't too many street signs out here. Luckily this thing comes with GPS. “Look ma, no hands!”
Brian: That's right.
John: We're basically just going straight now. Can you... You can program this to follow a pattern?
Brian: That is correct, yes.
John: That's really something. Again, a lot of cars we drive aren't this sophisticated yet.
But since farmers don't always drive in a straight line I needed to know how this tractor handles the curves.
What does a tractor like this, basically, have as a turning diameter or a turning radius?
Brian: Approximately twelve to fourteen feet is normal.
John: Is a good diameter?
Brian: That's a good diameter, yes.
John: Well, just to put that to the test we've got some cones set up so we're going to see how this baby does in a Motor Week slalom. We're doing our first turn at three and a half miles an hour, and we did that pretty easy if we didn't kill a cone. I don't think we did. This tractor uses about one to two gallons of diesel per acre. After I burn through a few gallons I wanted to see what was under the hood.
“Brian, you mentioned this is about nine liters in displacement so what's the biggest engine that you're likely to see in a typical tractor today?”
Brian: John Deere now, for the new model year coming, offers a fifteen liter engine, their largest tractor, which gives us over six hundred horsepower in that vehicle.
John: Wow! Fifteen liters, that's one big engine. Thanks Brian. You know with tractors like this you're really seeing that agricultural engineering is on the cutting edge…