Agritechnica 2019 innovations

A glimpse into the crystal ball of what could be the tractors of the future was something most large manufacturers were keen to showcase at the recent Agritechnica event in Germany

In part one of this two-part feature, we took a look at some of the concept tractors and alternative fuel concepts being developed.

In this part two segment, the focus is on the futuristic design elements evolving. I’m not taking about the usual reshape of a bonnet or roofline; these revolutionary designs were out of this world, featuring tractors with no cab, with white wheels, and even with the conventional two-axle design thrown out the window.

This was like Xzibit turning up with West Coast Customs for Pimp My Ride—the tractor edition!

It seems like the nucleus for this was handing the designers a blank canvas on which to create their most outrageous doodles before handing them over to the R&D team and crossing fingers a successful outcome was achievable. These are the creations that most caught my eye.

Case IH autonomous concept

Although not a new release, the Case IH autonomous tractor is still an attention-grabbing crowd-pleaser

Starting with the tractor I think just overall looks the coolest, with its deep red metallic paint job, duals all round, and a chrome stack sure to appease the magpie in all of us: the most notable thing here is the ‘missing’ cab.

This autonomous Case IH was actually released in 2016, so is not as ‘new’ as some others on show, but to me, it’s still the most likely to make it into full production.

Key features

  • Given the absence of the cab, the tractor is driven remotely. The operator can supervise and alter pathways via a desktop computer or tablet.
  • Remote monitoring of pre-programmed tasks.
  • The on-board system automatically accounts for implement widths and plots the most efficient paths depending on the terrain, obstructions, and other machines in use in the same field.
  • Radar, lidar (light imaging, detection, and ranging) video cameras, the vehicle can detect stationary or moving obstacles
  • The tractor will stop on its own until the operator assigns a new path/task. The vehicle will also stop immediately if GPS signal is lost, or if the manual stop button is pushed.

STEYR Konzept 

The Steyr concept tractor is packed with futuristic features

The STEYR Konzept was the tractor that looked so futuristic it almost looks to be made from plastic. I gave it the scientifically proven finger flick test and can assure you it’s definitely not plastic. The Konzept (German for concept) is a diesel/electric hybrid creation. While this isn’t new tech in the car world, it’s something gaining traction in the ag space.

Key features

  • FPT four-cylinder diesel engine, a generator, and several electric motors, controlled individually, supply energy where it’s needed.
  • An e-torque boost, from the central battery, supplies additional power (such as engine boost in a conventional tractor).
  • In purely electric mode, this enables zero-emissions driving in relation to both exhaust emissions and noise pollution.
  • The lower centre of gravity closer to the ground ensures better stability.
  • All wheel drive and individual wheel suspension improves traction and comfort.
  • Electric CVT trans. When descending downhill, it will send the energy back from the transmission to recharge the battery on the go – clever!
  • Hydraulics and PTO are electrically driven. This allows for variable PTO speeds as well as the ability to reverse the PTO. 700 V and 48 V connections are available for electrical implements.
  • A drone equipped with crop sensors will fly ahead of the tractor during field work will supply real-time crop and soil data.
  • The cab is essentially a tech hub. Touchscreen windows where information can be sent to the tractor so you can do some admin while the tractor drives itself. The heads-up display on the front windscreen gives key machine data while you aimlessly stare out the window as it literally does everything for you.

Lunar Rover

And now for something different – the Lunar Rover

Forget people painting their rims black to make the tractors look cool. Massey Ferguson has gone for the white on white, on red… on black…. with gold tints! Massey said it was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon – meet the NEXT edition.

If, like me, you are not sold on the white tyres, there’s a reason behind this addition other than just being attention-grabbing. Trelleborg is getting on board with the NEXT ‘movement’ with new carbon-free tyres and inflation control, and automatically adjusting pressures for changing conditions.

Other features include:

  • No steering wheel, two armrest joysticks instead. The left-hand operates the steering, while the right armrest will be like multifunction right hand armrests in modern tractors controlling the transmission, spool valves, implements, PTO, etc.
  • The space void of a steering wheel is equipped with three screens for machine data or office admin while the large heads-up display on the windscreen gives machine parameters.
  • Integrated sensors and cameras view soil and crop conditions in real-time. Soil moisture and organic matter levels are monitored and for nutrient deficiencies will automatically adjust the application rates and implement settings to match real-time conditions.
  • Automatic tyre pressure control for unique carbon free tyres.
  • Still runs a diesel engine.
  • Nothing is mentioned about transmission or other key running gear other than “10% more power transferred to the ground than all other tractors” according to AGCO.
  • No wingmirrors for people to put reflective silver plates on, instead wide-angle HD night vision cameras, with the screens inside the cab displaying their images – no more sore neck.
  • All lights are futuristic red LED day light.

The Joker


It was hard to miss the sprawling John Deere stand. However, on the first day, I have to admit I wasn’t entirely exactly sure what was happening.

A loudspeaker blasting out foreign German and some upbeat music with a swarm of John Deere employees walking around in metallic silver vests had me thinking I had unwittingly stumbled across a sci-fi convention.


Instead it was John Deere’s ‘Command Control Centre’, their ‘Future Technology Zone’. The exhibit included nine R&D prototypes focused on automation, electrification and artificial intelligence.

The main attraction was the ‘Joker’: the two Zuidberg equipped tracked, electric prototype, which was connected to a folding set of speed discs. The downside to this machine is the electric cord that it needs to work.


This allows it to be pint size with a claimed 500kW (675hp) of power. Time will tell whether this is a goer. However, there was plenty of other good stuff on display to keep the tech savvy amused.

The automation display section focused on ways machines could perform certain operations in the field with minimal human assistance.


A cab filled with screens as well as touchscreen window was something for the kids to get their sticky mits all over. The electrification portion focused on replacing mechanical and hydraulic components to make machines more efficient and productive.

The eAutoPower 8R/Joskin colab was another crowd-pleaser in this section. Artificial intelligence, or the concept of machines having the ability to act and behave like humans, was the third and final concept displayed with the main attraction: the grasshopper looking autonomous sprayer and the Joker.

The John Deere Joker – it looks cool even if it still runs off a power cord!

Another tech innovation that’s in production that will help people as of today is the ‘Autotrac Vision’. This is a normal looking receiver with camera on the front to automatically detect and A-B line without you having to set one up manually.



What is evident from Agritechnica is that the technology for many of the innovations under development is already there. Similar to the automotive space, driverless cars could go into full-scale production. The question remains, do people really want this? Do they trust it? And how much are they prepared to pay for it?

One thing is for sure, you will see autonomous tractors in paddocks in vast numbers before autonomous cars get mass uptake. Just like cars, getting the machines around the road from field to field will be the biggest head scratcher. I certainly wouldn’t want a cabless, lunar rover-looking machine roaring towards me on the highway, and I guess, therein lies the problem.

Find more tractors for sale in NZ

Photography: Jaiden Drought

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