Parliament meets every Friday (Photo: manufacturer's website)
The first thing that strikes you is the green-yellow that looks at you from every corner - a vivid, screaming, striking green with a bright yellow, cheeky combination of it. It is on the entrance gate, planters, barrels, doorframes, desks, display cabinets, columns all around. A visit to the headquarters of Mifram, the importer of John Deere to Israel, is an illustration of what would have happened if commercial companies had a position equivalent to a sergeant major at basic training bases. And in the midst of all this green and yellow are tractors, lots of tractors, of all sizes and types. One moment you think they've been taken out of context in this polished hangar, the next you'll just indulge in the illusion that you're in the craziest toy store in the world - by the way, the amount of toys there is just as amazing.
When does the game end and become reality? (Photo: Keinan Cohen)
I follow Amos Peleg, the importer's service manager, and try to concentrate on what he's saying and not just stand and stare at all the shelves here. Somehow I also manage to keep up with his walking and talking, until we reach a work space inside the hangar, where the first thing that draws attention is a huge screen with a satellite image dotted with small green and yellow tools running around in small jumps.
At first I think that a seagull sitting here is playing some kind of strategy game, the second later I realize that this satellite image is familiar to me, it's a map of Israel full of small tractors, from the Golan Heights to Beersheba from the Jordan Valley to the coastal plain.
This array is the product of a system called JD Link. Explaining everything it knows how to do will require a series of articles, so I'll try to be as brief as possible - a component in the form of an advanced GPS antenna on every agricultural tool from the manufacturer's more senior series, connects it to a satellite communication network that sends any data you can think of and those that you can't, regarding the tractor itself, what it does, where it does it and when, And all this data he sends here, to this screen.
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Any data you want to know is transmitted to a control panel anywhere you want (Photo: manufacturer's website)
"John Deere International constantly monitors these tools," explains Shahaf, "They have an algorithm that can see all the data from all the tractors and they know that if they see data that doesn't work out for them, they send us alerts that only we receive, not the customer. There they offer us courses of action, whether it's low engine oil pressure, but not low at the level of turning on a light bulb in the tractor itself or causing a problem, it's just letting us know that we'll pay attention to it.
"Or a real incident that happened to us in the south - we received a warning that the tractor had to be replaced with a braid of the engine computer - no one complained, the operator did not receive any indication of a problem, we look at the history of the tractor and it has no malfunctions. But they said, 'Listen, we've been monitoring it for a while now and we see that its propulsions are a bit difficult, its idle RPM is a bit erratic and we know that in these models, it's a symptom of rubbing the computer braid an engine that later causes, following the short circuit - so before the short comes - change the braid now.' We sent the mechanic to the field, he changed the braid, brought the old one here - and what did we discover? Rubbing right where we were told."
GPS antenna (Photo: Keinan Cohen)
Not just where it is, but at what rpm the engine, how many hours did it work today, did it tow a plow or a sprayer? Planting or harvesting a vegetable? And if he sowed then where and if it is a wise sowing then also in what concentration at each point in the field and what he sowed, how much he sprayed, where he fertilized more and where less, and then run all these layers together to understand what can be done better.
"You have to understand how accurate these measurements are," Amos explains, "in Waze the accuracy level can reach 30 meters, on a John Deere satellite it reaches 2.5 centimeters." One of the reasons for this required accuracy is that the system that uses, among other things, John Deere itself's satellite, can be turned into an automatic driving mechanism of the tractor, that is, by entering the work plan into the computer and based on GPS data, the tractor automatically drives itself according to the route set for it, now take a deviation of more than a few centimeters, multiply it by kilometers and kilometers of huge fields, and the importance of this accuracy is clear.
The antenna can be used in any tool thanks to an ongoing communication protocol for the smart tractors (Photo: manufacturer's website)
By the way, this system can also be installed on tools from other manufacturers such as New Holland (owned by the Italian Agnelli family), or on tools of the German Fend, and also make use of a sower or planter that is not made by John Deere at all - this is thanks to a uniform communication protocol common to all agricultural tools called ISO-BUS.
Understand? While in the auto industry automakers can't agree on a uniform place for the panic light button, the guys at the tractors have already taken 10 steps forward. This whole world that we have described here is part of what falls under the concept of "precision agriculture", which is by and large the point at which the furrow in the soil connects to the most advanced high-tech in order to generate maximum yield from each dunam. Whether in cost savings or improvement of produce. These figures are worth gold, truth be told, they are worth gold not only to the farmer, but also to John Deere as a producer, why? We'll come back to that later. Because while we're running to talk about connected satellites and tractors, we've forgotten a moment to clarify a few things.
Who is a real tractor? (Photo: manufacturer's website)
Pelephone, frigider, popsicle, tractor
We will see them when we pass by a construction site, a road works area, agricultural fields, factories and more. They will be yellow, green, green-yellow, red, bright green on red, blue, gray, orange wheels — each identified with their own manufacturer with a loyalty to the color that will make football team fanatics look like a cheerleading band in a bowling lawn league for workplaces.
They will be dusty, bumpy or wet. They will have big, small, tall, wide wheels. Still, most people will point to everyone and say one word - here's a tractor. But this nickname, like Pelephone, Frigider, Popsicle and more - is just a very generic and general name for many types of vehicles with a completely different purpose and use from each other. So once and for all, on the occasion of Shavuot, which is most identified with agriculture - the big tractor defines.
CASE's Quadtrac, the ground shakes (Photo: manufacturer's website)
Well, it won't really be big, not because there is a lack of anything to write about and elaborate, but because there is too much to write about and elaborate, and although the holiday that is most identified with tractors is called "Shavuot", you do not have weeks to burn on diving into the variety of versions and sub-classifications in this world that at some point turn into a quarrel over subtleties and the reason why entire families in the working settlement will not exchange a word with each other.
Let's start with the basics: the world of tractors can be divided into three main groups - agricultural, industrial and infrastructure. Among agricultural tools, the variety extends from dwarf tractors like those in John Deere 1 Series with their 7 horsepower or those used as mounted lawnmowers to giant monster worlds like CASE's Quadtrac, a lovable toy that extracts 12 hp at the peak from a six-cylinder engine with 9.699 litres at the peak and more than 400 hp just from its PTO output (a power output to which external tools are attached). And by the way, he's really, really not one of the biggest in the world, right? And in between, there is also the branching into plantation tractors, which are smaller and narrower, or those with portal axles or tall ferris wheels that allow you to move above the height of the crops, for example. And we're even before diving into dedicated agricultural tools, yes? We are only in a device called a tractor.
Backhoe. The Lederman of the tractor world (Photo: Keinan Cohen)
Moving from the airport to the city, we will first encounter the industrial tools and those used for medium-sized infrastructure, which are also collectively called "tractor", although their exact name is "backhoe" or "double-spoon loader". At the base there are the relatively light tools (relatively, because they weigh between 7 and 9 tons), they are more or less the aldermans of the tractor world, they are the ones you will meet in factories, small and medium construction sites, municipalities and local councils, they will have a loading spoon in front and another spoon in the form of an excavator in the back (hence the name double-spoon loader).
The versatility of their uses stems from their relatively compact dimensions, their ability to move on roads from place to place at medium ranges without the need for transportation, and especially the flexibility in operating a very wide range of tools based on the front and rear power outputs; When the front spoon is removed, a broom can be installed in its place in the form of a rotating brush, a crane on an arm, a flat spoon (bulldozer failure as opposed to the deep muzzle), a forklift and more. The rear excavator is connected to a power outlet that can be used as a platform for connecting a variety of accessories, from drill to pliers, ground clamp, hydraulic hammer and more.
Shuffle, or bicycle loader (Photo: Keinan Cohen)
A little above the backhoe is another "tractor", which is not a tractor at all, but a "bicycle loader", a "front loader", a "bicycle loader" or as most of you know it a "shuffle" - a shovel as in "Mr. Hasson in the form of a shuffle approaching here". And before we dive into its uses, a moment of tongue - the word shuffle was reincarnated into Hebrew from the German word schaufel - the shovel. And this shovel is the main characteristic of the bicycle loader - a formidable front spoon with 4 hydraulic arms that are responsible for its up, down and at its angle.
One of the differences between a shuffle and a regular tractor is its steering, while in the tractor the wheels are attached to the body and the steering wheel controls their angle of coupling, here there is an articulated axle at the front that rotates the entire front, allowing it to withstand loads even when the approach to the obstacle or the loaded material is done at an angle that is not straight.
The use of bicycles is very wide, from quarries, earthworks, infrastructure, construction to cowsheds where it is used to load food, as well as bulletproof versions used by the military to create obstacles and clear roads.
An IDF D9 bulldozer knocks down a house with a stroke of the spoon (Photo: Reuven Castro)
At the top of the food chain of engineering tools under the title "tractor" is the bulldozer, also known as a bulldozer (an explanation of the foreign name at the end). The first feature that distinguishes it from other tools is the use of caterpillars rather than wheels. The second is the flat spoon known as a "knife". Its power and size make it an integral part of the toolbox of heavy engineering work. In some tools you can find a device called "sterilizer" on the back. It is a huge steel anacol operated by a piston of enormous diameter and its function is to break large rocks or boulders, before removing them with the front paw. In 1955, the American Caterpillar Company, one of the pioneers and leaders in the field, introduced the tool most identified with this configuration, the D9. Since then, this nickname has become a generic name for all similar tools, so it is not uncommon to find the D9 designation attached to similar tools made by other companies.
One of Ferrari's least fast vehicles (Photo: manufacturer's website)
The uses of the bulldozer are many and varied, ranging from garbage removal, creating fire paths in forests to prevent the spread of fires, breaking roads, flattening land routes, engineering hacking and in the military context it is a multi-use tool that is employed in a variety of descriptions, from clearing an area on the sides of roads in order to create a better field of vision, breaking bypass routes, opening area cells suspected of underground mines to demolishing buildings where sometimes a slight touch of the spoon is enough to collapse a house, Whether for demolition purposes or to reduce troop risk in the event of entrenched terrorists. Additional military use of these tools is to lift earthen embankments for protection when static presence in threatened areas or construction of firing positions for tanks is required.
And again, within this world of engineering tools there are many other monsters, rollers and caterpillars that are used and all of them are referred to in one way or another as a "tractor", but as we said, Shavuot is just the name of a holiday and not the amount of time you have to read the article. As for the name of the bulldozer, one explanation is that it evolved from the phrase given to a dose of a drug or drug that can stun an ox - that is, something very powerful that overwhelms everything - if you've ever seen a D9 caressing a corner of a house and collapsing it - you probably understand that this describes it exactly.
פרוצ'יו למבורגיני לצד אחד הטרקטורים שלו(צילום: אתר יצרן)
טרקטור ספורט: למבורגיני, פורשה ופרארי שנוסעות בבוץ
על פניו אין שום נקודת השקה בין השמות הנוצצים האלו של מכוניות הספורט לבין הכלים החקלאיים הגדולים, האיטיים והמגושמים שקרויים טרקטור. אולם בשלב זה או אחר, היו כלים חקלאיים שנשאו את השם הזה.
נתחיל בזו היותר מוכרת והפעילה עוד היום: למבורגיני. פרוצ'יו למבורגיני היה בעליו האמיד של מפעל טרקטורים ובעליה הלא מאוד מרוצה של פרארי. אחרי שהעיר לאנזו פרארי כי ניתן היה לייצר מכונית עם תיבת הילוכים נעימה יותר לתפעול, אמר לו הזקן ממרנלו שעדיף שיתרכז בבניית טרקטורים וישאיר את מכוניות הספורט למי שיודע את העבודה.
פרוצ'יו בן מזל השור לא סלח על העלבון והציב לעצמו מטרה - להכות את פרארי במגרש שלה. וכך, מאז הוצגה מכונית הכביש הראשונה של למבורגיני ב-1963, משמש השם הזה גם את כמה ממכוניות הספורט המדהימות בעולם לצד כלים חקלאיים. למרות שכיום אין קשר בין החברות למעט השם. בעוד למבורגיני יצרנית מכונית הספורט שייכת לחברת פולקסווגן, יצרנית הטרקטורים היא חלק מחברת האם SFD האיטלקית המחזיקה גם במותגי SAME, Deutz-Fahr ועוד יצרניות בתחום המיכון החקלאי.
פורשה תכננה, האחרות ייצור(צילום: אתר יצרן)
For Porsche, the story was different. We know it as a sports car manufacturer, but Porsche is basically an engineering company. Its first boom began in the 30s, under Nazi rule, when Ferdinand Porsche's design of the "people's car", later Volkswagen Beetle, gained the company attention and led it to work on tractor development as well.
World War II stopped the transition of tractors from planning to execution, but after the war, when the manufacturer was on the boards, and Germany was broken and bombed, such tools had potential. The problem: As part of the Nazi surrender agreement, it was stipulated that only companies that manufactured tractors before the war were allowed to do so after the war. Porsche sold its rights to design the tractor to two other manufacturers. The first of its design came off the production line in 1950 with an air-cooled two-cylinder engine with 18 hp. Two years later the family expands to 11,22,33 and 44 bhp.In 1954, Porsche's tractor business was acquired by the German corporation Mannesmann, which, after a large investment in a production facility located at the former Zeppelin airship and engine factory, released the new version of Porsche's agricultural tools in 1956.
Like almost everything Ferdinand designed, there were brilliances like a hydraulic gear separation mechanism, which allowed you to shift gears quickly and with fewer wobbles each time.
It's a Ferrari tractor (Photo: manufacturer's website)
But the big problem with this model, with all its hours of development and engineering investment, was that it was simply very expensive. It is expensive for many European residents who just came out of the war to destroyed cities and a shattered economy, on the other hand in the United States, to do business with a German company with a history of partnership with the Nazi Party, so to speak, does not go down your throat, especially since the competition was very fierce. In 1963, production of these tools ceased after 125,<> units.
And what about Ferrari, you ask? Well, this is a little trolling. Because it is indeed a tractor and the company that manufactures it is indeed Ferrari. But whoever drives a Ferrari tractor doesn't really drive a Ferrari tractor, because between the sports car maker and the tractor maker there is nothing to do except for the identical name and Italian origin.
Cab in CASE, option for leather upholstery and seat heating (Photo: manufacturer's website)
Stalbat in the kibbutz - the luxuries in modern tractors
Just like our cars, which have become more comfortable and equipped than before, modern tractors also take the whole issue of user experience forward on an extraordinary scale. The days when I used to get on the Fiat tractor of the workshop in the summer only to get a grade 3 burn on my thigh from the tin are gone, there's no longer the situation to sit back on my seat after a rainy day and feel like I've sat in a puddle. And the shaking that made me confess to the crimes I didn't commit while driving the little John Deere of the Noy are not. Today, the large, well-equipped tractors, those designed for prolonged outdoor work and even the smaller ones, are those that offer (for those who mark a V in the right place) much improved living conditions.
Which of the 18 lights would you like to turn on? (Photo: Keinan Cohen)
Back in Mifram's showroom, I go up to the cabin of the 6R. The number 6 indicates its place in the manufacturer's model hierarchy (out of 9) and the R indicates that it belongs to a higher finish level than the base (M). The first thing you notice is the unimaginable amount of buttons around me. Masses of switches to activate every possible function in the cell, and probably two more that serve to speed up or slow down the sun's movement. And that's before we even get into the 10-inch color screen (which in the 7 and 8 series and soon on the 6 will come with compatibility with Apple Car Play and Android Auto), with all the information displayed in it and the functions activated through it, including individual control of each of its 18 (!) LED headlights, should see this thing traveling at night when it is brighter than a well-guarded prison in Texas.
The seat itself has full air damping, it can also be ordered with heating and leather upholstery and there is also a folding seat on the side, clutterless to sit on the wing of the tractor, hoping not to fall by jumping at the end of the furrow and descend from it with blue marks as if I were Huckleberry Finn. Of course, there is also a Bluetooth audio system, a freezing air conditioner and the box that at first I was excited about putting a cooler here until a seagull almost offended said to me, "What's a cooler? It's a refrigerator." Looking at the cabin, Amos explains to me that the entire cabin from Series 6 and above receives full damping with hydraulic pistons. and a motion restraint mechanism for the front using hydro-pneumatic pistons
There are already autonomous tools with decent capabilities (Photo: manufacturer's website)
High-tech in the mud?
As far as autonomous systems are concerned, the tractor industry has been undergoing a thorough examination of this solution for several years, and at any rate at a much more advanced point than the automotive world. For the past 4 years, fully autonomous test tractors have been circulating in the fields of the United States and Europe, and almost every major manufacturer is trying to understand what cracking is required in order to be the first to reach the market with a product that will reduce one of the heavy costs in operation - the driver. But not only that, the fact that an autonomous tool does not get tired, is not late for work, takes sick days, vacations and more.
Today the closest expression to this is found (again) in the more expensive vehicles, in the case of the green and yellow in John Deere it happens in the R8 which allows the driver to enter the work plan into the field, send the tractors for plowing, harvesting and more, while the operator himself sits in the cabin and does not touch anything. The next step is to move to remotely controlled tools from a central focus. Here we also return to the significance of all the data collected by producers on how the soil is cultivated. Based on this data, they can actually build contracts for the unmanned operation of the tools.
As far as their full electrification is concerned, there are still some problems on the way, including the technological aspect of breakthroughs in the field of batteries that will be required to power very heavy vehicles, with significant energy consumers for long periods of time in areas not necessarily close to available power grids. But even among tractor manufacturers, the distant future will not include fossil fuel propulsion.
No cabin, no driver (Photo: manufacturer's website)
Tractor at the price of Mercedes
As far as the Israeli market is concerned, according to data from the Ministry of Transport, 750-850 new vehicles are sold in Israel every year. According to Moti Kedar, VP of Mifram, this is a reasonable amount for the size of the local market. When it comes to agricultural tools in the middle sizes and above, as of 2022, John Deere was the best-selling tractor brand in Israel with 217 vehicles, with the brand in second place, New Holland next to it with 214 units. In third place are Italy's Landini and Japan's Kubota with 105 units. And this is an area where as you climb in power levels, brand and capabilities, these are relatively expensive tools with significant gaps between the different levels. Starting at NIS 60,90 for a small tractor made in China, Turkey or India and NIS 90,100 for a comparable vehicle of well-known Western manufacture, and from there to double itself when it comes to tools in intermediate sizes of 250-8 hp. When these large and powerful vehicles with 1 hp or more will cost half a million shekels and go north. And somewhere at the top is the most expensive tractor in Israel, the 3RX, which sold for <>.<> million shekels.
The most expensive R8RX in Israel (Photo: manufacturer's website)
Like the entire automotive industry, the tractor industry has suffered quite a bit in recent years from disruptions as a result of the coronavirus, with the availability of tools available to importers in most cases (the local market is generally dominated by 5 major importers). And in times like these, according to Kedar, there are also opportunities in a field that is considered one in which brand loyalty has a very high significance. That is, customers who remain loyal to a particular brand with extraordinary zeal compared to what happens in the automotive industry. "The Israeli customer is a demanding customer, and this is said positively, but we still have a lot of work to do in the field of making them understand the significance of the importance of the aspect of product maintenance and care," referring to the fact that the new tools are more advanced and sophisticated than in the past, and alongside much more advanced capabilities, require proper care and preservation so that they will continue to do so for years at lower maintenance costs in the long term."
The medium-sized vessels are designed for work in small orchards (Photo: Keinan Cohen)
Here we have a challenge in educating the market, in exposing it to something new. Both he and Amos Peleg mention the acute shortage of mechanics in the field: "People want to be in high-tech, make a lot of money and not work." I ask him if he can tell people to come work in tractor mechanics and that there is money and conditions in it? "To work in tractor and truck mechanics you have to love it, if you don't like it you wake up in the morning without desire and you don't have the energy for it. Good mechanics who love their job and have a desire are hard to get."
So the next time you stop next to a farmer on a tractor, whether it's an old Macy Ferguson, an old Fiat, or a shiny new CACE, raise your hand, say hello and say, if not in the face at least in the heart or to the children - thanks to these people we have food on the table, thanks to these people we do not depend on anyone's kindness to enjoy the most delicious fruits and vegetables in the world. They deserve it. Happy holiday.
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