Cereals 2008, which took place last week, was a great place to see new machinery and equipment. Here are some of the highlights.
Stripe Agriculture took the opportunity to show off a Czech-built six-leg sub-soiler. The Strom Ripperland has hydraulic auto-reset and can be fitted with either straight or Paraplow-style curved tines. Available with a rubber rear roller or ring-press, it costs £9500.
This monster machine is built by German sugar-beet harvester specialist Holmer. Called the Terra Variant, it can be fitted with a range of kit from 18m Horsch air-seeders to equipment such as this 18,000-litre Zunhammer slurry tanker. Power is provided by 500hp or 600hp Mercedes engines driving the same 18F x 6R Funk powershift gearbox that is used in Deere 8000-series tractors. Four-wheel steering means the whole machine can be set to crab up the field with each of the four 1050mm wide tyres running in a different wheeling. Typically in slurry tanker mode, the machine will carry an 18-30m dribble-bar or 6m cultivator/injector on its steerable three-point linkage and will run at speeds of up to 18kph. Price for the 500hp version with GPS auto-steering is 330,000 euros (£260,000).
This slightly strange-looking machine is a converted Matrot sprayer with a Duport spike-wheel injector, currently used by Yorks contractor Inject Direct. Using some new technology developed in Germany, the principle of injecting ammonium directly into the plant’s rooting zone is reckoned to slash fertiliser bills by 15%. By adopting this approach, growers can avoid leaf scorch, apply fertiliser in windy conditions and limit losses through volatilisation. From the contractor’s perspective, there is the opportunity to swap between the standard spray boom and the injector, doubling the machine’s potential workload.
The presence of ergot in your crop can spell big trouble, but now there is a machine that can identify and sort individual infected grains. The Satake AlphaScan uses optical cameras to identify discoloured seeds and foreign bodies. Its computer then sends a message to a bank of pneumatic nozzles which, with split-second timing, give out a minute blast of air to flick the rejected grain out of the main sample. Generally installed in the grain handling line after a mechanical dresser, the largest unit can process up to 35t/hour and costs £75,000.
The only one of its kind in Europe, this eye-catching white-liveried Challenger MT865-B is a special edition that harks back to the very first Caterpillar tracked tractors. When they first arrived in prototype form in the UK in the late 1980s, they, too, were painted white. This top-spec 510hp machine has been bought to work alongside three other Challengers at the Phillpot family’s Barleylands Farms in Essex.
Appearing on the stand of arable advisory body TAG to demonstrate the sort of home-built kit that can be used to reduce establishment costs, this sub-soiler/seeder has been put together by Lincolnshire contractor KW Timmins. It is a straightforward seven-legger with a Roger metering unit borrowed from a Simba Freeflow drill. Mr Timmins runs two such units to establish rape and beans.
Sited right by the main show entrance, you couldn’t miss Accord’s new DG 12000 drill. With its 12m wingspan, it is the middle model in a range that stretches from 9m to 15m. Two electrically driven metering units send seed from the 5000-litre hopper to two 48 outlet distribution heads on the two-section coulter-bar. A row of sprung levelling paddles even out the seed-bed ahead of the unit’s disc-coulters and individual rubber press-wheels. Suited to working in min-till conditions and into ploughed ground, the 12m DG needs a minimum of 250hp to keep it travelling at between 12kph-15kph. Prices start from £82,000.