Agritechnica is renowned by many as being one of the worlds largest and most important machinery shows. It takes place every two years, but last week was the first time it took place in four years, due to cancellations around COVID-19.
The week-long show takes place in Hannover, in Germany. The 2023 show featured 2,811 exhibitors from 52 countries, including Irish 15 manufacturers. It attracts over 450,000 visitors from more than 144 countries. It always gives a great indication of the future direction of farm machinery trends, and this year mechanical weeding and the electrification of farm machinery were among the main trends.
Mechanical weed control is the oldest weed management method. Essentially, it is the physical removal of weeds by mechanical equipment. The reason this is gaining popularity is down to several reasons.
The first reason is the reduction in potentially available chemicals for weed control in the future. This potential reduction in chemicals going forward is coming from EU legislation and herbicide resistance.
Herbicide resistance is point number two. In basic terms, this is where a weed population gains the ability to survive a herbicide application that previously that original plant population was susceptible to.
The third reason is the rise in organic farming. Organic farmers are not permitted to use chemicals to kill weeds, so they require mechanical methods of weeds control.
The EU target is to reduce chemical usage by 50% and to increase the area farmed organically to 25% by 2030. European machinery manufacturers feel that mechanical weeders are well fitted for the future of sustainable farming and will play a key role in modern weed control, alongside the reduction of chemical usage to meet regulations going forward.
Over the past few years, and in particular at Agritechnica, we have seen the majority of the well-known established manufacturers of tillage equipment either develop their own mechanical hoes or buy up smaller, specialised companies with such expertise. This includes manufacturers such as Lemken, Kverneland, Amazone, Kuhn, Pottinger and Väderstad, to name a few.
There are many types of mechanical weeding methods on the market. They are usually tractor mounted implements which tend to slice, chop or uproot the small, unwanted weeds.
The two most common are inter-row and intra-row. Inter-row is weeding the soil between the crop rows, while intra-row weeding is weeding in between the plants, within the row.
As the world works towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, all manufacturers in both the agriculture and automotive industry are tasked with looking for alternative fuels and technologies to replace the diesel engine as we know it today. As a result, one of the other more notable trends at this year’s event was electrification within the smaller product categories. At the last Agritechnica, several manufacturers showcased several electric concept machines. machines. But, this time round several manufacturers commercially launched electric tractors and wheel loaders.
For those who aren’t familiar, electric vehicles and machinery work off the same principle as the electric toy tractor or car that most of us are aware of. Think of the battery as being the fuel tank which stores electrical charge instead of diesel and the wheel motors as the transmission. Electric motors also power hydraulic pumps and other services. Meanwhile, the single biggest challenge with electrification is working range. Yes, you might think the answer is to just fit a larger battery, but it’s not that simple. Larger batteries obviously require more onboard space which naturally brings about added weight. That said, battery technology is improving all the time.
On the market
At the last Agritechnica, it was very much unknown what product categories suited electrification and when we might see such vehicles on the market. This time around, it was apparent that electrification is one the main chosen routes for the smaller category machines with relatively short run times. The sub 100hp tractor category and compact wheel loader segment especially. Fendt, New Holland and Case IH were among the more prominent brands to launch an electric tractor model at the event.
By now, almost every loader manufacturer has a range of electric machines that are now commercially available. Kramer, Weidemann and Schaffer were just some of the brands to launch and extend their electric loader range at the event.