At the top of the performance league, combines with rotary separation or rotary threshing and separation rule the roost. And as the dust settles – or should that be moisture lifts – on a challenging harvest, Peter Hill has the inside story on the new and improved models prepared for the 2009 campaign

Case IH

Straw quality from the latest range of Case IH Axial-Flow combines is reckoned to be as good as from straw-walker designs. Reports from the handful of operators who experienced the “small tube” rotor in the 9010 model this year suggest that is a reasonable claim.

The “ST” rotor is installed in each of an expanded six-model line-up of Axial-Flow machines, which comprises three all-new 88 Series models catering for growers who like the simplicity of the original, and three updated 20 Series machines for operators who like all the technological bells and whistles.

“The improvement in straw quality comes from the ‘ST’ rotor tube’s 50mm smaller diameter,” says Case IH product specialist Paul Freeman. “It operates with deeper rasp bars within the same size housing the extra space means it can handle a larger volume of straw and treat it more gently.”

The “ST” rotor first appeared in the Axial-Flow 9010 introduced last autumn it’s now called the 9120 to reflect a tail-end redesign that also features on the 8120 and 7120.

It provides the hallmark rear steps giving access to the engine bay, plus tweaks to spread chaff more effectively and lay swaths more neatly. There is also a more efficient fixed-knife straw chopper capable of handling larger volumes.

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The three-range CVT drive to the single threshing and separation rotor in the 8120 and 7120 has been uprated to cope with increased power outputs from their 10.3-litre Iveco Cursor and 9-litre Case-Cummins engines: Up 15hp to 469hp for the 8120 and by 27hp to 422hp for the 7120.

In part, the 7120’s power gain is to help move its performance potential comfortably ahead of the Axial-Flow 7088 newcomer to the range, which offers a jump in output over the superseded 2388.

“The 7088 will meet demand for increased capacity from 2388 users who don’t want to make the jump to the more sophisticated 7120,” Paul Freeman points out.

The 7088 comes into the range with 366hp from its 8.3-litre Case-Cummins engine and a 15% increase in clean grain elevator capacity over the 2388, which is directly replaced by the 6088 model, the new entry-level 5088 completing the line-up.

While featuring the same two-range belt-drive rotor propulsion and cleaning system, pretty well everything else on the three 88 Series combines is all-new.

The most significant change is a 40cm longer wheelbase, which not only enables the machines to handle wider, heavier cutting tables without resorting to tail ballast, but also makes room for much bigger grain tanks.

At 10,500 litres, the mid-range 6088 has 42% more grain-holding capacity than the 2388 it replaces, so it can work longer before stopping to unload on the headland and puts less pressure on trailer resources for growers who prefer to unload on the move.

Case IH Axial-Flow range

Model

List price

Main table

Grain tank (litres)

Engine max power

5088

£162,327

6.10

8,800

295hp

6088

£180,252

7.32

10,500

335hp

7088

£199,531

7.32

10,500

366hp

7120

£211,690

7.32

10,500

422hp

8120

£239,608

9.14

10,500

469hp

9120

£255,848

9.14

10,500

530hp

All Axial-Flow combines have a single 2.62m long rotor for threshing and separation with two-range variator belt drive on 88 Series, three-range CVT shaft drive on 20 Series.

Claas

Evidence that the Lexion 580+ – the second-highest output combine in the Claas line-up – is a good a match for the Vario 1050 cutting table as the flagship Lexion 600 comes from claims by contract farming company Farmeco, which briefly established a world grain harvesting output record this summer.

Despite overcast conditions, the Lincolnshire operation used its machine to cut 47.7ha of Alchemy winter wheat averaging 11t/ha (and up to 12t/ha in places) over an eight-hour period.

Moisture content, hovering about 17%, resulted in a total weight of 532.14t of grain being recorded on the combine and verified over a weighbridge.

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The Vario 1050’s wide working width contributed to output by reducing the number of passes and time-consuming headland turns involved in the Guinness World Records-monitored operation.

The big table, with a centre-support for the crop-gathering auger allowing operators to press on without seeing material flow up the elevator affected, is available for the Lexion 580+ and 600 for next year’s harvest. Claas recommends using it in conjunction with Terra-Trac running gear because of the weight and to provide as stable a platform as possible for even cutting height across the wide working width.

In addition, the two rotary separation combines can be equipped with a technology package that brings together yield mapping, fuel monitoring, crop data recording and the Telematics internet-based logistics system that can help monitor and improve harvest performance.

Claas Lexion range

Model

List price

Main table

Grain tank (litres)

Engine max power

Lexion 570C

£229,140

7.5 AC

9,600

415hp

Lexion 570+

£274,600

9.0 V

10,500

455hp

Lexion 570+Montana

£277,600

7.5 V

10,500

455hp

Lexion 570+Terra Trac

£302,200

9.0 V

10,500

455hp

£304,600

9.0 V

10,500

517hp

Lexion 580+ Terra Trac

£345,400

10.5 V

10,500

517hp

Lexion 600

£355,400

9.0 V

12,000

586hp

Lexion 600 Terra Trac

£400,300

10.5 V

12,000

586hp

All Lexion “hybrid” combines have a cylinder in front of the main threshing drum, followed by a crop flow beater feeding a pair of 4.2m-long separation and discharge rotors – four-speed drive on 570C, variator drive on all others.

John Deere

John Deere’s single-rotor S690i combine gets further internal tweaks to add to the power hike introduced with 2008 harvest models.

Less aggressive threshing elements make it a little gentler on grain and straw and a modified concave now has a large-wire final section to retain more material and reduce unnecessary loads on the DynaFlow cleaning shoe.

An extension for the top sieve increases cleaning capacity and improves air distribution, while a revised mid-floor pivoting feeder house can handle up to 15% more crop volume.

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The self-levelling HillMaster version gets John Deere’s new ProDrive transmission, comprising a two-speed automatic gearbox and hydrostatic propulsion. This makes it easier to dial up faster speeds and cut unproductive time spent on headland turns. It also delivers more torque and increased braking performance.

Standard on both level-land and HillMaster versions are HarvestSmart auto feed-rate control, which regulates the forward speed of the combine, AutoTrac GPS satellite steering and the HarvestDoc crop recording software package.

For harvest 2008, the S690i’s Deere PowerTech six-cylinder engine was given a 7% power increase to peak at 530hp for regualr harvesting, plus a bigger (33hp) “boost” setting when unloading grain on the move.

John Deere S690i

Model

List price

Main table

Grain tank (litres)

Engine max power

C670

£254,147

7.60

10,000

400hp*

C670 HillMaster

£266,316

7.60

10,000

400hp*

C670i

£274,532

7.60

10,000

400hp*

C670i HillMaster

£286,701

7.60

10,000

400hp*

S690i

£302,651

9.15

11,000

530hp**

S690i Pro HillMaster

£322,274

9.15

11,000

530hp**

C Series “hybrid” combines have a threshing cylinder followed by a stripper roller and overshot beater feeding a pair of 3.4m long rotors. The S Series has a horizontal drum feeding a single 3.13m long rotor in a progressively larger diameter housing followed by a discharge beater. +17hp*, +33hp** available when grain tank unloading on the move.

New Holland

Progressively increasing the capacity of a combine harvester is largely about removing bottlenecks.

A power boost helps things along in the threshing department, but then cleaning capacity becomes the limiting factor. Move that up a notch and either front-end capacity or the ability to deal with crop residues could be the next factor needing attention.

Little wonder, then, that the development of Elevation-spec versions of New Holland’s “CR” combine range has involved tweaks and enhancements in all departments.

To increase separation capacity, the combine’s two rotors can run at higher speeds than before to generate greater centrifugal force the cleaning shoe assembly has been revamped to increase its throughput and there is more power.

The net result for two Elevation models introduced for next year’s harvest is an increase in overall capacity of about 5% for the CR 9060 and a 5-10% advance over the CR 9080 Elevation with the new CR 9090 Elevation flagship machine.

At the heart of the “Elevation” upgrade, which has already been incorporated in the CR 9080 and “narrow chassis” CR 9070, is the OptiClean system, for which engineers are said to have gone back to basics, studied in detail what goes on in the cleaning shoe and found ways of improving its throughput without jeopardising sample quality.

A key change has been to rearrange components so that the pre-cleaner and top sieve and the bottom sieve and grain pan form separate assemblies previously the grain pan was connected to both sieves.

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“This allows the reciprocating movement of these elements to be optimised, with the top sieve having a more pronounced ‘kick’ to lift and separate material,” says Adrian Wood. “It has also allowed the two sections to be moved further apart so that, depending on the stroke, the cascade distance is increased by up to 120%, giving more capacity for removing chaff and other light material.”

Correspondingly, maximum fan speed has been increased from 900 to 1050rpm to provide extra air volume, while rotor speeds have been kicked up a gear on the bigger combines from 1200 to 1450rpm and for the smaller-diameter rotors of the CR 9060 and CR 9070 from 1450 to 1925rpm.

Engineers at New Holland’s Zedelgem factory – where “CR” combines for Europe have been built for the past two years – are responsible for creating the latest addition to the range, the CR 9090 Elevation.

This machine, with its more powerful engine, 10.7m cutting table and 12,500-litre grain tank, is intended to help meet ever-growing demand for higher harvester performance, especially in Britain.

“We calculate that more rotary-type combines were bought in 2006-07 than straw walker models for the first time,” says Adrian Wood. “The position was restored for this harvest because of the number smaller growers buying a new combine. But the trend is clearly towards these higher-capacity machines.”

With mixed cropping helping to spread the workload, he reckons the CR 9090 Elevation is capable of handling 1300-1600ha, and the CR 9080 Elevation having 1000-1300ha within its grasp.

“With the new flagship machine, we’re also pioneering GrainCam, a device that detects cracked grains and material other than grain (MOG) and displays the results on the in-cab monitor,” Adrian Wood adds. “It’s another tool to help the operator find the best settings to balance output and sample quality.”

New Holland CR

Model

List
price

Main table

Grain tank (litres)

Engine max power

CR 9060 Elevation

£253,685

7.32

9,000

422hp

CR 9070 Elevation

£274,409

7.32

10,500

469hp

CR 9080 Elevation

£301,895

9.15

10,500

530hp

CR 9090 Elevation

£345,882

10.7

12,500

591hp

All “CR” combines have a pair of 2.64m long threshing and separation rotors with variator drive, followed by a horizontal discharge beater.

World record

Berwickshire grain grower William Grimsdale and his team at Mountfair Farming made a late-season world record harvesting attempt at the end of September using a New Holland CR9090 and handled 551.6t of Robigus winter wheat in eight hours to beat the previous best by 19.5t.
During the Guinness World Records-monitored attempt, the CR9090 harvested 53.5ha, achieving an average rate of 68.95t/hr, and consumed 13.3 litres/ha of fuel. “We harvested three fields yielding an average of 10.32t/ha with moisture at about 17%,” says Mr Grimsdale. “Grain loss throughout the day was a low 0.5%.”
Conditions for harvesting in the north of England have been just as challenging as in other areas of the UK, he adds. But for this successful record attempt, the harvesting team had to cope with the higher humidity and shorter days at this time of year.
“In more favourable conditions, I reckon the combine could exceed 600t in eight hours,” says Mr Grimsdale.

Massey Ferguson

Having field-tested its North American-built 9895 over the past two seasons in Britain and announced a three-model range under the Fortia name, Massey Ferguson has since decided that the combines will not be actively promoted in the UK for next season.

The 9895 Fortia reportedly worked well, but needs further tweaks, including a bit more power to be fully competitive with the combines in the same performance class.