Mechanical harvesters continue to make inroads, but most Dutch growers continue to cut cabbages and cauliflowers by hand, placing them on conveyors and a packing platform carried behind a tractor. Covering just 130m/hr, the tractor drives in the slowest creep speed. Most growers have long used a cable behind the tractor to operate it remotely. Van der Werf has gone a stage further and ditched the cable for a dedicated remote control unit.

Shown on a Case IH Maxxum 115 at the Bejo Zaden machinery show at Warmenhuizen (north of Amsterdam), the Dutch dealer has offered the conversion for many years and reckons to have sold in excess of 100 systems (all the Dutch growers and mainly to cauliflower growers). “It is a normal job for us,” comments Sander Klabbers of van der Werf.

Activating the system is easy in three steps; start the tractor, engage the creeper and then turn on the remote unit (receiver connects to it). Engine speed is always set in idle for this type of work. The remote could be programmed to start the tractor and reverse it, but most growers opt for the six functions of stop, forward, gear change (up/down) and steering (left/right). The tractor is always turned manually at the headland. The remote is only used when crossing a field.

The Maxxum is the most popular tractor for conversion, but the dealer has also installed the kit on a number of New Holland and Steyr tractors. The Dutch dealer reckons it is difficult to convert a CVT to remote control. The easiest is a mechanical transmission. It depends on the tractor and required functions, but the cost of the conversion is usually around €4,000-€5,000.