Unmanned tractors set to plow fields in Turkey

Unmanned tractors set to plow fields in Turkey

BURSA - Hürriyet Daily News
Unmanned tractors set to plow fields in Turkey

New tractors can be driven unmanned by the help of a satellite supported tech. The US-made tractor has different versions varying from 310 to 360 in horsepower.

Technological developments in vehicle design and ever-larger agricultural plots in the country are reflected in the newly developed tractors unveiled at Burtarım, a large agriculture fair in the northwestern province of Bursa.

John Deere’s 8R series tractors were among the most significant developments at the fair, which started on Sept. 27. The updated vehicle can be driven unmanned with the help of satellite-supported technology. The U.S.-made tractor has different versions that range from 310 to 360 in horsepower.
Another model developed by local Türk Traktör that is also used in large fields costs “nearly as much as a second-hand Ferrari,” according to a company executive.

Mete Has, John Deere Turkey’s marketing director, says large breeders who have acquired privatized facilities from TİGEM, the state-run agriculture organization, and leading agriculture companies have bought their 8Rs. Large breeders who grow their own feed for animals need such vehicles, Has told the Hürriyet Daily News by phone. Ata-san, Berce and Saray Halı are among the companies using the vehicle.

A government policy to unify agricultural land has not started to produce results yet, he said. However, “the average horsepower of the tractors used in Turkey is increasing,” which, he said, is a sign that agriculture plots are growing in size. This figure grew to some 75 hp, with a 5 hp increase from last year, he said.

The satellite-controlled vehicle would need a driver only for security concerns, particularly on bumpy fields, said Yılmaz Barut, a manager at John Deere.

Türk Traktor’s model can undertake the work of 10 ordinary tractors, İrfah Özdemir, a deputy general manager, told Anatolia news agency. The firm has sold two of the 390 hp vehicle so far; one in Gelibolu in northeastern Turkey, another in the Çukurova region in the south.

Exports boom

Turkey’s exports of agricultural products reached $15.3 billion in 2011, with a 282 percent increase from 2002, the Agriculture Ministry said in a written statement on Sept. 28. A 181 percent increase in imports accompanied the boom.

Meanwhile Turkish Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Mehdi Eker held talks with his French and Lebanese counterparts on the sidelines of a meeting of Mediterranean countries’ agriculture ministers in Malta on Sept. 27.

Turkey may become a model for Arab Spring nations in agricultural development, he said in Malta.

French officials would like to present him with a French Presidency Medal for Turkey’s contributions to global food safety within the G-20, Turkey’s model projects, contributions to the FAO and Turkey’s agricultural production models and agricultural support policies, Eker said.