Problem Statement/Functional Need.
There is no cultivation tractor commercially available that is affordable to purchase and maintain, capable of hyper-accurate weed control, and is able to track straight on sloped ground. Many cultivation systems are used behind a full-sized utility tractor,such as the Williams Tool system and the Regi weeder, causing serious soil compaction and a lot of space lost to wide wheel tracks. In the case of the Regi weeder or other two person tools, labor costs are also doubled.
The Crop Hopper is powered by a 19 HP Kubota zero turn lawn mower. The output shaft that powered the mowing deck is now fitted to a hydraulic pump. Twin spinning tine weeding heads are controlled with the hands while steering is done with foot peddles. The machine is very light, has excellent traction, uses very little fuel, and is a lot of fun to opperate. Most of the parts for the conversion are commonly available off the shelf at any industrial supply co.
Two areas that need a lot of work are the weeding heads and the steering. I'm hoping to have a much improved weeding head design ready to test in the spring of 2016. I'm also planning a re-design of the steering around the new generation of zero turn mowers that have rack and pinion steering on the front wheels and hydraulic fluid metering for steering on the back wheels. This would make the machine much easier to control, especially on sloped land.