12 December 1997

Crab-steer beet harvester due for UK in 1998

By Mike Williams

A NEW self-propelled, six-row sugar beet harvester, which operates in crab-steering mode to reduce soil compaction, will be available for UK growers next year.

Marketed by Standen Reflex, the German-built Holmer Terra-Dos keeps the front and rear wheels on different tracks to spread the harvesters weight over a wider area. Actual running gear comprises 800/65R32 tyres on the front and 73X44.00-32 TerraTires on the rear.

Hinge point for the articulated steering is just behind the front axle, with the cab, topping and lifting units on the front section, and the turbines, holding hopper and engine in the rear.

Steering mode selection is via push-buttons on a joystick control: Four-wheel steer for tight headland turns, in-line steering for transport and opening up a field, and automated crab steer for harvesting.

Cynics among us might suggest that operating this 18t capacity harvester in crab mode damages all the soil rather than just the two wheel marks created by conventional steering, but Homer maintains tests prove most soils recover more quickly when compacted by only one wheel.

From the front, the Terra-Dos flail topper can be adjusted to load up to 90% of its weight on the lift arms – an indicator gauge on the topper shows the height setting, which can be controlled from the cab. Other front end cab controls extend to scalping knives adjustment and depth setting for the walking-type spring loaded lift shares.

After lifting, the beet passes over a set of cleaning rollers before entering the turbines. The position of the turbines spring loaded gates can be controlled from the cab although the speed of the turbines is adjusted from the ground.

Power for the Terra-Dos is supplied by a 420hp MAN turbocharged engine pulling fuel from a 1050-litre tank. Drive to the front and rear axles is via a two-speed hydrostatic transmission – the front axle is a portal design to allow extra ground clearance.

Price of the Holmer Terra-Dos is quoted at about £220,000. &#42

An automated crab steering system on the new Holmer Terra-Dos sugar beet harvester is designed to reduce soil damage.