16 October 1998

High horsepower in bid to woo US

to fore

growers

The lowest grain prices for

20 years did little to dampen

the enthusiasm of US

farmers attending the annual

Farm Progress Show,

located in the heart of the

countrys grain belt. Stephen Howe reports

ABOUT 350,000 visitors attended this years event which covered more than 335ha (825 acres) of Allen and Leon Bairds 400ha (1000 acres) Tipton Farm on the outskirts of Windfall, Indiana.

This small agricultural town is about a three-hour drive south-east of Chicago. Just a few miles after leaving the outskirts of the Windy City is all it takes to get to grips with the agriculture of the region. Its wall-to-wall soyabeans and grain maize in equal proportions separated only by field margins and without hedges.

So it was hardly surprising to find the equipment at this years Farm Progress Show dominated by high horsepower tractors, combines and ancillary equipment needed to establish and harvest the regions two dominant crops.

This year the emphasis was on reducing ground pressure. There is nothing like a wet autumn following by a wet spring to capture the imagination of both growers and manufacturers. And thats just what happened in the US last season. A wet autumn hindered harvesting in some areas, while a wet spring delayed planting of this years crops. Hence the rash of track-laying tractors, grain trailers fitted with tracked undercarriages and tracks for retro-fitting to both combines and wheeled tractors.

One company making tracks for all applications is GripTrac. And the companys president Fred Riplo says business has been brisk, particularly for re-conditioned tracks which can be fitted to a farms combine or tractor depending on the work in progress.

"In a normal season our tracks reduce fuel consumption, compaction and allow earlier field work. In a wet one, they prevent ruts and allow faster working," said Mr Riplo. &#42