Products (Machinery - Farm equipment)
Kubota:Tractor Zero Kingwel Series
Taking on the challenge of global food shortages
In October 2011, the world’s population crossed the 7 billion mark.
According to the World Bank, approximately 925 million people today face the threat of starvation, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that global food production must be increased by 70% in the future if the needs of the world population are to be met.
The shortage of food resources has begun to affect humankind and this problem will only increase in the following years.
Turning to Japan, the country has the world’s largest adverse trade balance for agricultural products. In 2008, the total export value for agricultural products stood at US$270 million compared to import trade at a value of US$576 million.
This hints at how Japan’s agricultural industry must now work both to improve domestic production for domestic consumption, in order to improve self-sufficiency, and to produce agricultural products that will perform well in the face of increasing competition on international markets.
Kubota is a Japanese company that manufactures high-performance agricultural machinery, and in doing so hopes to make a difference to agricultural efficiency and the efforts being made to combat food resource shortages on a global scale.
In the 1960s it became the first company in Japan to successfully develop a tractor for use in rice paddy fields, and since then it has continued to invest in research and development and has become a leading company in the world agricultural machinery market as one of the top tractor manufacturers today.
At present, Kubota’s sales revenue from agricultural machinery puts it in the top handful of companies in the world, and its reputation is similarly impressive.
Unlike many of the other leading companies in the agricultural machinery field, which tend to specialize in one type of machinery, Kubota produces a range of machinery and equipment in various sizes used by livestock and dairy farmers, with a particular focus on tractors, combines, and hay making equipment as well as lawn mowers; these products perform extremely well on world markets.
Today, Kubota is an integrated agricultural machinery production and sales company with considerable potential for further and multi-directional development on an international scale.
International sales have been growing steadily for Kubota for some time, in both the agricultural machinery and domestic use gardening equipment sectors, particularly in Europe.
In recent years, however, Kubota has turned its attention to Asia and its rice agriculture industries, which must be streamlined and improved as the populations for which they must produce rice continue to rise. Kubota has reacted to the potential in this market but merging with local companies and setting up subsidiaries, and is in the process of making what contributions it can to the agricultural policies in these developing nations.
As an indication of Kubota’s level of involvement, around 70% of all tractors in Thailand are owner by companies created through merger and acquisition by Kubota.
Kubota is also highly regarded as a manufacturer of ductile iron pipes, and is regularly lauded as the world’s best. Kubota’s impressive technology in this field allows the company to contribute to the smooth running of Japan’s waterworks system, which has the lowest leakage rate of any in the world.
Rapidly developing countries such as China and India represent exciting new markets for Kubota, as infrastructure is built and developed at breakneck speed. The company is playing a key role in creating and maintaining high quality water environments around the world.
Kubota Power Krawler: A Tractor With a Unique Triangular Crawler
This article introduces the latest tractor series from Kubota, featuring an innovative build that Kubota has described as ‘revolutionary’.
Tractors are used to power and move various attachments, such as mowers for digging up the earth or balers for compacting dried grass and straw.
Tractors can be either four-wheel models or equipped with crawler tracks, but Kubota’s Power Krawler is an unique model that combines these options; it has tires at the front and crawler tracks at the back.
This new model combines the power of a standard four-wheel tractor with the maneuverability of a crawler track. This revolutionary design has been dubbed the Power Krawler, and is unique in that the rear crawler is in a triangular shape with rounded corners.
At the center of the rear crawler is an oscillating point, separate from the axle, which allows the lower half of the crawler to move in a unique manner. It also means improved grip with the terrain, and reduces vertical bounce when travelling through rolling and uneven terrain; this means smoother and more stable operation is possible.
This model also has increased performance in rolling terrain, and can be maneuvered across uneven terrain and obstacles with improved sure-footedness than previous models.
In general, tractors with crawlers have a lower contact pressure than wheeled models, a benefit which means less damage to soil.
The tread pressure of Kubota’s Power Krawler Tractor is just one third of that of conventional crawler tractor models, making agricultural work is kinder to the soil, its microorganisms, and plant roots too. It also reduces rutting, leaving no crawler tracks in the soil, and this means that the wheels of the agricultural machine used for subsequent work will not be affected by the tracks.
In addition, the low contact pressure prevents the body of the tractor from sinking. This helps it to work unaffected by climate and conditions, for example through muddy terrain, after rainfall and in snow.
The combination of tires with crawlers gives this tractor outstanding traction, and it is able to carry out work with high loads with powerful performance.
The design of the Kubota Power Krawler is such that it is much more difficult to lose control of the steering wheel as a result of the agricultural machine being hauled, and it also has superior straight-line performance. This straight-line performance has proved popular with farmers, since it makes possible the construction of very straight footpaths between rice fields.
The Power Krawler is also capable of high speeds, often difficult with crawler tractors; it has a top speed of 21 km/h, compared to the average top speed of 15 km/h for agricultural vehicles.
Another feature to be mentioned is the Bi-Speed turn, characteristic of Kubota tractors. When turning, tractors can cut into the land, causing damage to the soil; what was required was a tractor able to make tight turns.
Kubota’s Bi-Speed Turn function works by allowing the front wheels of the tractor to turn at twice the speed of the ear wheels when turning the steering wheel. In other words, the rear wheels work as an axle as the front wheels change direction. This function allows Kubota tractors to make tight turns with agility and without damaging the soil any more than absolutely necessary.
Today in Japan, the proportion of the population involved in agricultural production is in decline, and there is therefore demand for agricultural machinery that is more productive.
Heavy machinery can take on heavy loads with great efficiency, but their weight alone can cause damage to agricultural land and this trade-off has been a source of concern for farmers.
The Kubota Power Krawler, however, represents a solution to this issue. Prototypes were tested in farms throughout Japan, and the design was finetuned according to the feedback received from farmers; this piece of machinery is a very real reflection of the features and functions demanded by people on the frontline of agricultural work.
Indeed, those farmers already using the Power Krawler are likely to tell you that they cannot imagine doing without it. This outstanding model challenges the stereotype that agricultural work must mean exhausting physical labor, and its innovative design is sure to help attract a younger generation of workers to agriculture.
Dec 25, 2011
About the author
Hiromi Jitsukata is a reporter for Japanest NIPPON
|Tractor Zero Kingwel Series
Lineup ranges from 40–58 HP