Using your Tractor with a Geiger-Counter in your Hand
Just occasionally, we wander off from the serious business of farming and agricultural equipment when something rather unusual catches our eye.
One such example occurred recently when, quite by chance, we saw an article or rather brief note relating to a nuclear-powered tractor developed a long time ago.
This immediately struck us as a mixture of incredible and hilarious. We had mental images of farmers around Goulburn driving their tractors in lead-lined anti-radiation suits. We couldn’t help smiling also at the thought of our customers bringing equipment into us and our first action being to run over them with a Geiger counter!
OK, this is largely a bit of fun but incredible as it sounds, there were plans in the 1950s and 1960s to use nuclear-powered tractors. One such photo of a prototype is included here.
The idea, of course, is that such tractors run forever and on an unlimited range basis, given they virtually never need fuelling. Of course, the practicality of this meant it never happened and the potential health issues, even in a full shielding scenario, are too horrific to contemplate.
Then you would have all the issues of potential terrorists gaining access to the radioactive fuel. So, again that poor farmer would need to be surrounded by a squad of armed police every time he took his tractor out into his fields!
It wasn’t only tractors. There were serious proposals and even some work done on building nuclear-powered cars. If you think that’s made up, you should look at this Ford “Nucleon” model of 1957/58.
Looking back at all this now, it seems like another world and indeed it was. Back then, atomic power was seen as a potential saviour for humanity. It’s really only in the 1970s that this idea was firmly put to bed.
Yet strange as it may sound, the basic idea of nuclear propulsion and fuels for vehicles is coming back. Many respectable scientists are pointing out that, at the moment, nuclear power appears to be the only viable option for ending our dependence on fossil fuels.
However, we doubt that you’ll be seeing any Kubota utility vehicles with nuclear engines in the immediate future. So, it’s still safe to come and see us without your anti-radiation suit!