22 May 1998

DRIVING EASIER THAN EVER

Innovation is the name of the game. Few would deny todays tractors – in terms of driver comfort and ease of operation – are now better equipped than ever before.

Last year will perhaps be remembered as the "year of the transmission" when several innovative designs made their debut, while 1998 could well be recalled as the "year of the suspension".

With one or two notable exceptions, most tractor manufacturers now, or are about to, offer a front suspension system – yet another bonus for the operator.

Innovation apart – and there is clearly more to come – sales of tractors this year have struggled to mirror the previous years performance.

A strong £, lower farm incomes and a reasonably well equipped market have combined to see tractor sales plummet in recent months. Whether the situation will improve in ensuing months remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, power continues to climb – an indication, no doubt, that growers recognise tractors are cheaper than labour. Fewer, but more powerful tractors working longer hours. Little wonder manufacturers strive to improve the lot of the operator.

In this supplement, we take a look at the latest developments in tractor suspension systems, the current situation in respect of exhaust emissions and an in-depth look at hydraulic systems. There is also a report on the state of the crawler market – a sector which is experiencing something of a revival.