Tweaking combine settings to get the best performance out of the machine used to be the preserve of the operator - but now the combine itself can make most of the decisions.
Claas chief executive Theo Freye believes CEMOS Automatic, being introduced as an option on Lexion 700 series combines, will be seen as one of the most significant developments in crop harvesting.
"It ensures the combine will always operate at peak performance, more or less regardless of the skill and experience of the operator," he says. "So owners are guaranteed the optimum return on their investment."
The automated version of CEMOS, an interactive settings advice system for operators, adjusts forward speed, sieve opening and wind speed, as well as separation rotor speed and the position of the adjustable cover plates added to the front two sections of the rotor housing. This way, it aims to maintain peak performance within the driver's chosen grain loss target.
Experimenting with drum speed and concave spacing remain the operator's responsibility, but only because there are no sensors for consistently detecting cracked grains or un-threshed ears, points out Jens Broer of Claas.
"Operators tend to make only small and infrequent setting changes out of fear of making a mistake," he adds. "CEMOS Automatic reacts faster and will make adjustments as often as necessary - less experienced operators can learn from watching the display."
There are four harvesting strategies to suit different circumstances and pre-production experience suggests that using the "highest throughput" strategy when poor weather threatens can increase productivity by up to 20%. The default "balanced" that will be used most of the time should typically deliver a 5-10% improvement.
Ed Miller, precision farming and electronics specialist at Claas UK, reckons that is worth at least £3,000 to a typical Lexion 700 owner: "That's the figure you get from saving 5% of a 300-hour harvest for a combine costing £200/hr," he explains. "Then you also trim the cost of the support team, which probably costs another £50/hr."
CEMOS Automatic is activated when the combine's Pilot steering system is engaged and must be de-selected if the operator chooses not to use it. Heading into a crop, it keeps working speed below 3kph for the first 300-500m until it has assessed conditions and made adjustments before building speed to the optimum.
The system is being introduced on a realigned Lexion 700 series with 2-5% increases in power output, a more effective and power-efficient cooling system for the top three models, and increased grain tank capacity.
The new flagship Lexion 780 is created by opening another section of the rotor housing to increase separation area, installing larger sieves, adding 500 litres to the 12,000-litre grain tank and dropping in a 598hp Mercedes-Benz engine with SCR emissions control.
Output is reckoned to be up 10-12% on the current 770.
Case IH Axial-Flow updates
Increased performance with lower fuel costs are promised from a revamped range of Case IH Axial-Flow combines that can now run on tracks or taller, narrower tyres for improved mobility.
Adopting latest-spec FPT Industrial engines with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for emissions control brings up to 15% more power for the three smaller combines in the range - now identified as the 130 Series - and up to 10% for the higher-spec 230 Series machines.
At the same time, Case IH reckons the improved fuel efficiency of these engines can cut fuel bills by up to 10%, depending on model, including the cost of the AdBlue urea solution that the SCR system needs.
The former 88 Series Axial-Flow combines also benefit from the 3050 VariCut table, introduced earlier on the bigger machines, being produced in smaller sizes.
Compared with the preceding design, the new table has an extra 70mm of fore-aft adjustment to adapt the knife-to-auger distance for different cereal crops and oilseed rape. There is also an improved guide system that allows the reel to be lowered closer to the knife to gather laid crops more reliably.
Grain tank capacities remain unchanged throughout, but the flagship Axial-Flow 9230 does have a new tank assembly with separate mechanical drive to the two cross tank augers. Drive to these augers can now be disengaged to allow the discharge auger - uprated to 157-litres/second - to be emptied for minimal start-up torque next time it is used.
All three of the 230 Series combines can have Accutrac undercarriage installed instead of wheels. Similar in principle to the track assemblies fitted to the Steiger Quadtrac, there is a 61cm belt that keeps overall width down to 3.48m and a 76cm version giving an overall width of 3.8m for operators who want to optimise the flotation characteristics.
Massey Ferguson ups comfort
Growers planning on running a Massey Ferguson Beta combine next harvest can look forward to enjoying a more comfortable workplace and added electronics assistance.
Both Beta models - the 276hp MF 7360 five-walker machine and the 330hp MF 7370 six-walker combine (which has another 30hp on tap for on-the-move grain tank unloading) get the new Skyline cab.
This provides improved visibility through a wide, curved windscreen, a fresh interior with better quality materials and a new seat armrest console carrying all switches and buttons, a new control stick and the Techtouch terminal with a four-section display that can be arranged to suit individual operator preference.
Sieve opening adjustment is added to the remote control features available through the terminal.
Software monitors important aspects and provides groups of settings that can be power-adjusted automatically for different crops.