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Add-on speedometer cuts costs.

A new use of an old device, a speedometer, will help farmers more accurately apply the correct amounts of fertilizer and herbicides.

Almost all the error in tractor speedometers occurs because they are attached to the rear drive wheels, which slip when pulling tillage implements. Slippage is desirable because it reduces wear on transmission parts and maximizes draft forces.

But farmers can unintentionally apply too much chemical if they don't realize their tractor speedometers are providing them with inaccurate readings--sometimes as much as 20 percent off. Knowing the accurate speed is critical to keeping the rate of chemical application constant. A tractor moving 20 percent slower than the speed-ometer reading would apply 25 percent more chemical to a crop area than a tractor moving at the correct speed.

This is not only a waste of expensive chemicals, it also presents potential pollution problems, says ARS agricultural engineer Steven E. Hinkle at the Central Great Plains Research Station, Akron, Colorado.

A speedometer setup he developed eliminates these problems because it is driven off one of the tractor's front wheels, which are usually nonpowered, or freewheeling, and don't slip.

Farmers are trying to cut production costs and increase profits by combining field operations. One combination popular on the Central Great Plains is applying herbicides or fertilizer while sweep tilling.

Sweep tillage is accomplished by using a tractor to pull an implement that has horizontal blades traveling 2 to 3 inches beneath the soil surface. The blades cut roots of growing weeds.

Hinkle constructed the speedometer setup from a commercially available kit that costs about $200 and takes only a couple of minutes to move from one tractor to another. A mounting bracket is built for each tractor and bolted to the front wheel spindle arm. On the hood of the tractor, magnets hold the speedometer display, which can be adjusted so the needle points straight up at the desired speed. As drivers look straight ahead, they merely have to glance at the dial to verify correct speed.--By Dennis Senft, ARS.

Steven E. Hinkle is at the USDA-ARS Central Great Plains Research Station, P.O. Box 400, Akron, CO 80720-0400. Phone (303) 345-2259, fax number (303) 345-2088.
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Title Annotation:tractor speedometer
Author:Senft, Dennis
Publication:Agricultural Research
Date:May 1, 1993
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