‘Tracks with everything’ has been rapidly developing into something of a mantra within the agricultural machinery industry.

There are good reasons for this; Ever increasing machine weight and the growing concern for soil structure and health combine to focus attention on reducing the ground pressure exerted by vehicles.

Claas has long been a champion of nurturing the soil by the replacement of wheels with tracks on its heavier equipment, and in 2018 it introduced the Terra Trac concept to its range of Jaguar forage harvesters.

Milestone for Terra Trac

This month saw the 100th Jaguar equipped with tracks come off the production line. Destined for North America, it is the larger of the two models available with 925hp on tap.

Originally designed to bring the benefits of low ground pressure (LGP) to European stock farmers who wish to cut grass early in the season and maize much later in the year, the concept has also found great favor in America.

Class tracks European
Transport width is kept to 2.99m for the European Market

Around two thirds of the machines built are destined for this market where its ability to cut maize on wet ground without forming deep ruts is greatly valued.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Customers in the US have come to appreciate the smooth ride Terra Tracs offer on ground that has been watered by central irrigation pivots.

These tend to leave concentric circles of ruts over which the tracked foragers ‘float’. This doesn’t just add to operator comfort but saves wear and tear on the machinery, in addition to reducing soil contamination from the crop.

Tracks have issues to

One criticism of tracks is that they can scuff the soil when turning on headlands. This is a particular problem on grassland where such damage to the sward reduces growth and encourages weed infestation.

To overcome this Claas has developed a lifting system that pushes down on the central rollers thus lifting the track ends away from the ground, minimizing the tearing up of the turf.

Forage harvesteer Tracks
Hydraulic rams act to lift the ends of the track unit to reduce scuffing when turning on the headlands

Another advantage that farmers have found with the tracked harvesters is much reduced sideslip on slopes. Claas believes that this, along with the improved ride, is a selling point as important as the reduced soil compaction.

As is often the case with new additions to machines, the benefit to the farmer extends beyond the original concept and Claas is keen to draw out attention to these unexpected gains associated with fitting tracks, rather than wheels.