30 April 2024

What gearbox is in your tractor?

Continuing with our exploration of the various options available to farmers when purchasing a tractor, we now turn our attention to gearboxes. We have already provided an overview about the different engine options in previous discussions, the gearbox remains a crucial component that warrants consideration. Now, we focus on medium and high-power tractors of the best-selling brands in Spain.

The choice of gearbox is an important matter when buying a tractor... It directly influences the tractor's performance depending on the work to be carried out. For instance, a tractor intended for heavy pulling with a plow has different gearbox requirements than one used primarily for transporting goods with a trailer. Similarly, tractors employed in stone crushing jobs have distinct gearbox needs compared to those used for fertilizing and spraying tasks . These varied applications identify whether the gearbox needs to be powershift or continuously variable (stepless), as well as the number of gears required and the potential need for creeper gears.

We still remember when we bought (year 2012) our Deutz-Fahr M600. At the time, the dealer emphasized the inclusion of a 40x40 gearbox with creeper gears—a feature we didn't initially appreciate. However, fast forward to today, and it is a basic requirement for us, because without creeper gears it would be very difficult to use the pruning crusher through olive and almond orchards would be incredibly challenging. Therefore, one of the first lessons to learn is that the more gears... the better.

Another detail that we have seen when looking for information is the lack of emphasis on minimum speeds by many manufacturers. They show the maximum speed, which is very important because we already have many models that go up to 60km/h, but the minimum speed is also very important because the tractor does work at a low speed: stone crushing, fruit and vegetable planting work, etc.

Some other conclusions could be:

  • All manufacturers offer stepless gearboxes, usually in their premium models.
  • Deutz-Fahr in the 6-series offers the gearboxes with the most gears on the market (54x27). McCormick X7 also offers it as the manufacturer is the same (ZF).
  • Fendt continues to prioritize its renowned Vario transmission system, setting itself apart from competitors, now with the innovative VarioDrive concept.
  • Stepless gearboxes excel in providing unmatched minimum speeds, making them ideal for tasks requiring precise control and low speeds.
  • John Deere's 6M Series offers a versatile range of options suitable for diverse farming needs.
  • It has come to our attention that the giants CaseIH Quadtrac, New Holland T9 and Claas Xerion 12000 use stepless gearboxes.
  • Claas and Valtra have little variety in terms of gearbox options.

In conclusion, the diverse range of gearbox options available in today's tractor market reflects manufacturers' ongoing efforts to cater to the specific needs and preferences of farmers across various applications. From traditional manual transmissions to advanced stepless gearboxes, each option offers unique benefits and advantages, ensuring that farmers can find the perfect match for their specific requirements. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see further innovations in gearbox design and functionality, driving greater efficiency, productivity, and user satisfaction in agricultural operations.

Versión en español.

15 April 2024

Olive pruning. Things to bear in mind

In the middle of the olive pruning campaign, we pause our tasks to provide a summary of  our progress. Following the guidance of our advisor, Rafael Navarro, and drawing from our experience last year, we are currently engaged in pruning and shredding branches, with plans for a pre-flowering treatment to follow.

Regarding pruning, we encounter three different scenarios: young olive groves, medium-sized olive groves and old olive groves. Each one needs to be pruned in a different way, which is explained below. Regardless of the age of the olive tree, the following basic concepts should always be kept in mind:

  • Pruning consists of removing bad wood so that good branches can grow.
  • The aim is to harvest more olives from the same pruning year.
  • Pruning is not peeling branches. Density is removed, but you remove firewood, not small branches.
  • Remove unnecessary branches.
  • Male branches at high altitude are useless.
  • The olive tree must always be kept in the correct shape.
  • It is necessary to attack the vertical branches, branches that go too far outwards, but the twig is fundamental.

For our young olive grove, planted in 2017 but unfortunately affected by the storm Filomena in 2021, our work primarily focuses on:

  • Removing low branches to shape the olive trees.

Regarding the medium-sized olive grove, planted in 2018, the tasks include:

  • Removing low branches.
  • Pruning male branches (those growing vertically).
  • Thinning out inner branches to allow light penetration and prevent leaf loss due to lack of light.

Finally, for the old olive grove (about 30 years old), our work involves:

  • Thinning out some main branches, aiming to retain three main branches, though this may change over time.
  • Clearing inner branches to promote light penetration.
  • Pruning male branches to reduce height and facilitate a more accessible harvest, as olives are typically found on lower branches

In conclusion, proper pruning techniques tailored to the specific age and condition of olive trees are essential for ensuring optimal growth, health, and productivity. Are you currently undertaking any pruning activities in your olive grove? Share your experiences or questions in the comments below!

Versión en español.