FROM Russian Tsars to dog and pony shows, half-track vehicles have long been a part of automotive history.
The first half-track tractors date back to the early 1900s with brands such as the Linn tractor.
While never a large segment in the tractor market, the past few years have seen a resurgence of the technology with half track releases from both Case and New Holland.
The latest offering in the field is the Claas Axion 900 Terra Trac, the first half-track with fully suspended front and rear axles.
Claas Harvest Centre, product manager Claas tractors, Dave Knowles said the driver was to put more power to the ground and increase traction.
“There has been a trend towards tracks on the bigger articulated four wheel drive tractors,” he said.
“Front wheel assist tractors are going up in horsepower and unless you really weight the tractor up, you can’t get the power to the ground.”
This allows you to pull without as much wheel slip, the more wheel slip, the less power to the ground and the more compaction
Mr Knowles said Australian broadacre farming particularly suited tracked tractors.
“The dry soils become very powdery very quickly, and in states with a high component of sands, its very hard to get traction,” he said.
“So the tracks come into their own their as they have more surface area which creates more friction.
“This allows you to pull without as much wheel slip, the more wheel slip, the less power to the ground and the more compaction.”
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Mr Knowles said the unique feature of the Terra Trac was the fully suspended front and rear axles.
“A fully suspended track gives the operator a better ride, which is what we found in harvesters,” he said.
“You can go faster on the half track, that it is suspended means it drives a lot better, particularly at speed.
“The Axion 900 Terra Trac has a top speed of 40km/hr.”
While the Terra Trac was first used in the Claas Lexion 900, Mr Knowles said a years of development went into putting the system onto a tractor.
“This wasn’t just a track taken from a harvester and put on a tractor,” he said.
Mr Knowles said placement of the pivot, was important to ensure a tight turning circle for row crop work.
“The distribution of weight load on the rear of the tractor and onto the three point linkage also had to be considered,” he said.
“Which is why they have left the larger drive wheel at the back.
Mr Knowles said Claas Harvest Centre was excited to be able to offer the technology in the near future.
“The benefit of track is clear, it reduces compaction and gives you more ground traction,” he said.
“It is exciting to see that Claas has taken some existing technology from the harvester and evolved it into their front-line Axion 900 tractor.
“It’s really exciting we will be able to offer that in the future.”
Claas have not released which models beyond the Axion 900 the Terra Trac will be available on in Australia, the release date is yet to be confirmed.
The Claas Axion 900 Terra Trac was awarded a silver medal for innovation by the German Agricultural Society (DLG) at Agritechnica, Hanover, Germany.