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Weigh Scale Helps Fight Soil Compaction
Swedish researchers, with the advice of farmers, have modified a jack to weigh equipment as it lifts it. The Newton, with its integrated scale, was designed to help farmers reduce soil compaction. Put to work under a tractor axle or other heavy equipment, the weight is shown on a nearby digital display.
“The Newton is designed to help farmers adopt strategies to reduce soil compaction before they pull into the field,” says Per Frankelius, Linköping University. “It makes checking axle weights fast and easy. It also fills a need farmers have to know the weights of different equipment or parts of equipment before using.”
As part of Agtech 2030, Frankelius works with a farmer panel to develop and apply technology, including sensors and artificial intelligence, to agriculture. The effort involves around 90 organizations and is funded by the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, the regional government, and Linköping University.
“Controlling soil compaction is a core research and innovation element of Agtech 2030,” says Frankelius. “Research has shown that more than 6 percent of agricultural crops are lost due to soil compaction, and in sensitive areas, it’s estimated at more than 15 percent.”
The Newton includes a compressed air-driven jack with a mechanical interface between it and a strain gauge (wave or load cell). The digital display is hardwired to the strain gauge. The jacks, with a cost of $2,500, are the most expensive component.
“We’ve developed two prototypes based on discussions with our farmers,” says Frankelius. “The jacks can handle up to 30 tons with the space for the interface. We looked at lower cost jacks, but they didn’t have a hole at the top for adding electronics (load cells).”
Frankelius reports that the Newton has an accuracy of one kilogram (2.2 lbs.). “We wanted a system that offered high precision and was safe to use,” he says. “We’d have preferred to buy a commercial system, but nothing existed.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Per Frankelius, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Chief Initiative Officer Innovation, Linköping University, Agtech 2030, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden (ph 46(0)13-28 10 00; mobile: +46(0)708-21 29 49; per.frankelius@liu.se).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3