Ferguson and Conservation Agriculture

Ferguson was a revolution which will always be part of production on the land. However, there are opportunities to add new dimensions.

There is no doubt that Sir Harry Ferguson’s invention of the farm tractor 3-point linkage, which gave weight transfer off the cultivation tool down the top link onto the driving wheels of the tractor, revolutionised world farming and has saved many millions of the human race, including ourselves in the West, from starvation. There is no doubt that it is still relevant.

Nevertheless, we have moved on into an era where we need less damage to soil structure, less nutrient loss to ground water, less energy use, less pressure on climate change. And more food to feed a rocketing population.

Quite simply, we need to recycle urban waste to land and use zero till wherever feasible. To do this, another step in tractor development is now a marketing opportunity. Back in the1970’s, I published an article in the then journal “Big Farm Management” which predicted that the global tractor market would split into 5 roughly equal sectors; (i) mid-range, Ferguson design “maid of all work”, (i)  similar but small, up to 30 horse power, (iii) very large over 150 hp and moving to tracked, rather than wheeled, (iv) MHT’s – materials handling tractors, mainly telescopic loaders, and (v) HST’s – High Speed Transport tractors; lighter-weight, transport tractors equipped with PTO and capable of field work.

That prophesy has turned out as predicted for the first 4 categories.  Now, the need to move to conservation agriculture and zero-till, makes the move to this last category of lighter weight, transport-capable, versatile tractors,  over-due and a real opportunity for the tractor trade to supply emerging trends on conservation coupled to more efficient production.

Land Research Ltd, 14 April 2017