Never in the history of mankind has one farmer been able to produce as much food as today – enough to go around for more than 160 people. This wouldn’t be possible without powerful machinery, but even more important than having plenty of horsepower is flexible torque in a wide RPM range. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that it is torque that feeds both people and cattle.
When the mechanization of Finnish agriculture was taking off in the early fifties, the AGCO Power plant at Linnavuori designed a new 15-horsepower tractor engine. Even though the jokers called it a “barb wire stretcher,” it pluckily served thousands of small farms by slowly but surely pulling a one-furrow plow. For comparison, AGCO Power’s latest engine, the CORE75, produces about 300 horsepower with a staggering 1450 Nm of torque.
“With the CORE engine family, the design objective has been to create a narrower RPM range but a wider torque range with things such as turbo matching,” says Tapani Katila, Account Manager at AGCO Power. “For us, the need for machine torque has always been very clear, and by designing the engine from ground-up we have been able to make a big leap in torque output without compromising durability.”
Having a brisk low-end torque is very useful in tractors and other machinery. It gets the machine to the desired speed quickly even with heavy additional equipment while enabling effortless pulling of a heavy trailer, more efficient soil cultivation and more economical operations.
“Torque enables one person to produce more productive work”, Tapani Katila sums it up. “A tractor with good torque properties can have wider plows and bigger equipment attached, enabling the farmer to earn more with fewer passes on a single strip of field.”
Constant torque vs. torque peaks
Pumping water is a perfect example of a kind of machine work that calls for relentless high torque during the entire shift. And during the harvesting season, it’s not uncommon for the working shifts to be stretched round-the-clock, forcing the engine to give out its best torque for extended periods of time.
”From another point of view, the need for torque comes as peaks,” Katila reminds. “When an excavator bucket hits the soil, a CTL machine cuts down a tree or a wheel loader drives on a pile of material, you need your torque quickly or the engine will stall.”
Torque turns into meat and dairy
Tero Nenonen, tractor test driver at Valtra, sheds some light on the importance of torque in the very beginning of the food production chain.
”These days, the production of milk depends on the tiniest details and feeding the cattle has to be done to the minute,” Nenonen tells as an example. “A forage harvester has a very precise recommended RPM rate, and with insufficient torque, the silage can be too coarse, and the animal will not be able to extract its nutrients fast enough.”
Another advantage of fine-cut silage is its easier handling when it is moved from silo to a mixer wagon and mixed into feed.
”The finer silage you are able to cut in the field, the less power you need to mix it into feed”, Nenonen says. “The quality of the first stages has a big effect on the quality of the last stages, and even a small improvement in the torque or fuel economy can have a significant effect on the end result.”
According to Nenonen, the whole chain is successful when the energy from the field has been energy-efficiently converted to the correct format and transferred to the production animal.
The future is in torque
With the bigger farm sizes transit distances get longer as well, forcing the heavily loaded tractors to keep up with the pace of the traffic. In these conditions it is crucial that the tractor responds to the gas pedal and gets out of the way regardless of the topography.
”As a rule, people always want a little more power and torque,” Nenonen grins. “But to avoid machine damage, the significance of operator skills grows together with the increasing power and torque. It is crucial to understand what torque is.”
”Torque gives you the feeling of responsiveness and that the machine does the right things,” Tapani Katila encapsulates his view. “The torque is directly linked to the feeling of having power available in the entire range of the power curve, resulting in more meaningful work.”
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