This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Assesment of Equipment Performance Variables for Improved Management during Tillage Operations




Kichler, Corey

Type of Degree



Civil Engineering


Deep tillage operations required to alleviate compaction layers in soils found especially in the southeast region of the United States remain to be one of the largest areas of energy and fuel expense for agricultural producers. Good farm managers look for more efficient fuel utilization techniques with improved productivity. The objectives of this research were to: 1) develop an in-field monitoring system to display and collect various real-time tractor and implement performance data; 2) collect and analyze tractor and implement performance data while varying different equipment operational variables during deep tillage operations; and 3) quantify fuel usage and cost savings for the implementation of site-specific equipment management strategies. Four different experiments were performed. A depth performance experiment investigated subsoiler draft and fuel consumption requirements for two different tillage depths (22.8 cm and 35.6 cm). The effects of tillage time rotation on energy requirements of three different subsoilers were also studied. The third experiment evaluated the effects of speed on equipment performance and energy requirements between two different subsoilers. The final experiment investigated the response of three different tire pressures on equipment performance and was used to highlight the value of spatially collected equipment data. Results from the depth performance experiment indicated that a 130% and 23% increase in draft and fuel consumption, respectively, occurred between the shallow and deeper tillage depths. Draft more than doubled over a 12.7 cm depth difference indicating tillage at shallower depths can save energy and fuel costs. The tillage rotation experiment resulted in increases in fuel consumption, draft and axle torque in the triennial year rotation compared to annual and biennial rotations. The implement speed experiment showed that the Kelley Manufacturing Company (KMC) subsoiler had a 115.0%, 7.1%, and 37.3% increase in fuel consumption, axle torque, and implement draft respectively from a slow to fast speed. A 105.0%, 2.3%, and 27.8% increase in fuel consumption, axle torque, and implement draft, respectively, resulted between slow and fast speeds for the Paratill™. The data from the tire pressure experiment showed a 4.6%, 69.0%, and 17.1% increase in fuel consumption, tire slip, and axle torque, respectively, between the low and high air pressure treatments. Spatially, field variables effected equipment performance data with 17% to 23% increases in fuel consumption depending on travel direction and terrain differences. In conclusion, these experiments differentiated equipment performance between some of the available modern tillage implements and operational variables to quantify fuel usage and potential cost savings for alternative methods of performing tillage operations.