27 November 1998

High-tech and down-to-earth – its all on show

This years Royal Smithfield Show promises a host of new

product launches, from some of the most technologically-

advanced new tractors in years, to many down-to-earth new

and improved implement designs. Peter Hill takes a stroll

among the sparkling exhibits that will be on view this Sunday

ALTHOUGH Earls Court 2, the vast curved-roof exhibition hall used for a large part of the Smithfield Show, provides the most modern way in, going into the old Earls Court building through the imposing Warwick Road entrance still offers a greater sense of occasion.

Register, pin on the bar-coded badge and its up the steps to get a panoramic view of agricultures biggest indoor event. For tractor and machinery enthusiasts, and serious buyers alike, the show presents the best in farming mechanisation and technology.

No harm, though, in making a start with a bit of good old "out of the farm workshop" practical engineering. It is on the farmers weekly stand where the Barclays-sponsored Farmer Inventions Competition winners are revealed.

Next, head across to New Holland to seek out additional TS tractors, and other new tractor introductions that the company is keeping firmly under wraps until show day, before moving back across the centre aisle to Claas and its latest array of forage products. New round balers and giant grass rakes are among the newcomers here.

Continue with the forage theme at Vicon (the companys no longer called Greenland) just a few steps away, where new mounted mower-conditioners that cut wide and spread the grass are on show, as well as low-cost and weigh-cell additions to the Rotaflow disc fertiliser broadcaster range.

The Valtra and Fendt stands are now too close to miss, and both have interesting newcomers; Fendt 140hp and 160hp tractors with Vario hydro-mechanical drive and the worlds first four valve per cylinder tractor diesel engine, a Deutz design, this one; and Valtras 100hp to 120hp additions to the Valmet Mezzo ranges, new shuttle transmission and the worlds first air front axle suspension.

Take a peek around the back of Valtras stand to see the latest JCB Fastrac line-up and the Teletruk, a telescopic alternative to the conventional forklift for work in and around crop stores. The handling theme continues across the aisle at Merlo with a new model ultra-compact telehandler.

Next door, Suzukis new 400cc and 500cc Arctic Cat quad bikes are on show, with Kawasakis auto-drive KVF quads and a promised Polaris newcomer from E P Barrus nearby.

Spraying is next on the agenda – Sands (next door to Barrus) has an economy boom and sprayline purge system on offer while nearby Knight has a new range of big capacity trailed sprayers to talk about. At this point, take in Hydro Agris clever variable nitrogen rate application system that "reads" the crops N requirements while spreading or spraying is in progress.

Since we are now near one of Smithfields bars, it is time for a refreshing pint before heading for Earls Court 2, taking in Teagles latest straw and silage shredder/bedder/feeder on the way and stopping off at Zetor and Landini importer Motokov on the threshold of EC2.

Motokovs stand features the Landini Globus 56hp and 66hp small tractors alongside new 82hp to 106hp Zetor Forterra models which,will take over from the UR3 range.

There are bigger tractors to goggle at next as Case previews the all-new Magnum range with engines that span 182hp to 279hp, climbing to a massive 306hp under load.

Its off the back of the Case stand to see the new 260hp Massey Ferguson 8180 standing proud on its extra-tall Kleber 85-series tyres, then jink across to Dowdeswell to find equipment to go with these high-power giants, such as the Powavator rotary tillers uprated to handle 260hp at the pto.

Where next? Over to Lely to weigh-up new trailed mowers and Welger roll balers, perhaps, or across to KRM for new Bredal and Bogballe fertiliser spreaders; the latter promises a neat field-edge spreading system operated without leaving the tractor seat.

The big Amazone and Krone stand beckons at this point, with more new hi-tech ideas on fertiliser spreading and in-line wrappers from the Krone and Elho stables.

Move towards the back of EC2 to intercept the John Deere stand where there are improved 3000 series tractors and 6010 models at 125hp and uprated to 140hp featuring full powershift for the first time.

Something else unusual here, apart from the CTS combine rotors? Yes, mounted and trailed crop sprayers in John Deere livery.

It is a short hop to Kvernelands display and the biggest stand at Smithfield. Taarup makes its comeback as a brand on Kvernelands forage products which include a new range of trailed mower-conditioners and a vertical tub diet feeder – of which plenty of other examples (including a new one from Kuhn) will be found around the show.

Heading towards the east end of EC2 through the potato equipment area, take a look at Standen Engineerings Vision harvester which has a "central backbone chassis" to give the driver a better view of the intake area.

Further on, there is a clutch of stands with new products, including WestMacs grass spreading JF mower-conditioners, Hardis Meteor axle suspended trailed sprayers, Vaderstads linkage-mounted seed drill, a folding precision seeder from Stanhay, new Wootton trailers and front linkage from Lynx for the Claas Challenger.

At the EC2 entrance end of the impressive hall, its back to those tractors. Renault has improved Herdsman and orchard models, a new power shuttle for smaller Ares tractors and detail changes to Ceres and Cergos machines, while Same Deutz-Fahr (SDF) pushes the technology stakes with 230hp and 260hp Agrotron giants, and a three valve per cylinder diesel engine for the new Lamborghini Champion.

Ask about the remarkable torque output and back-up figures from this motor, as well as the class-leading 18-speed powershift used in this model and the similarly stylish Same Rubin.

Head up to level two for a new GPS precision farming monitor/ controller from RDS before enjoying a well-earned rest on Grammers latest air suspension seats.

But not for too long, because there are plenty more newcomers to seek out among the Smithfield show stands. &#42