7 November 1997

Innovations in

plenty at Europes biggest

Agritechnica 97 takes place at Hanover on Nov 11-15. Norman Dunn takes a look at just a few of the many exciting new developments waiting to be seen.

THREE major design innovations in the combine harvester ranks, new front-axle suspension from one major tractor manufacturer and a range of bigger track-layers coming from Claas/Challenger – are just some of the introductions planned for the coming Agritechnica in Germany.

Claimed as Europes major farm machinery exhibition, the biennial event at Hanover, Nov 11 to 15, will also be the biggest precision farming event so far with several major manufacturers offering equipment for computer control in the cab linked with field maps and eventually GPS navigation systems.

Exhibitor bookings are reported to be 12% up on the last event at just short of 1300 from 31 different countries. Visitor numbers are expected to match last Agritechnicas total of 180,000.

John Deeres CTS combine, with a transverse drum plus double longitudinal (axial) separation rotors taking the place of straw walkers has been working on a few UK farms this summer, but Hanover has been chosen for the official launch.

In the new system, which employs two axial rotors turning against each other, grain separation in difficult green/wet straw conditions is claimed to be possible. The rotors continually push the straw upwards with the result that separated grain is channelled through the bottom of the cylinder by gravity.

The CTS system, which comes to Europe with the 900 Series header, 260hp engine powering hydrostatic drive and 9000-litre grain tank, was first used in rice harvesting and has been uprated now for other difficult harvesting conditions.

Helping with handling in such conditions is the big 660mm diameter conventional drum with a concave area of 0.81sq m backed by a further 1.2sq m separation area.

The Arcus combine, new top of the line model from the MDW stable in eastern Germany, will bring a whole range of special features to the combine world at Agritechnica. First, the look of the machine is completely different with big driving wheels at the rear and smaller diameter steering ones up front.

Weight balanced

Design has also balanced the entire combines 16t equally on the two axles. MDW says there is a maximum ground pressure of 27psi under each of the wheels, all of which are turned hydrostatically. Maximum speed is rated at 25mph. Work zone comprises twin axial rotors for the main threshing area followed by a horizontal drum.

Throughput of the Arcus with 7.80m (25.5ft) cutter-bar in tests this harvest has topped 40t per hour in wheat fields. Powering the new Arcus is a 425 PS 6-cylinder Volvo motor and up top is claimed the biggest grain tank in the business with 12,000-litre capacity which can be emptied in about 120 seconds. Twin straw choppers come as standard.

Another Arcus introduction, features an LH-Agro on-board computer as standard with 21 monitoring, controlling and recording modes, including fingertip single-action crop by crop setting. Estimated price for the Arcus: about £148,000.

Another combine-equipment introduction planned for Hanover this autumn features Claas headers. A 5.40m (17ft 6in) folding version will be shown. The entire operation, which breaks the table and reel in two parts and folds it forwards on a horizontal plane, takes just a few minutes, according to the company – which has already a folding 4.50m table on the market.

For the first time, the Lexion is also being offered with the driving wheels replaced by rubber halftracks to help reduce soil compaction danger.

Newcomer from the Deutz-Fahr TopLiner range is the 8XL, claimed as the highest capacity conventional straw walker combine in the world. Claimed capacity is over 40t per hour.

Behind the companys turbo-separator threshing system is a new distribution drum for an even spread of straw over the full 2.03m (80in) 8-walker width. Resultant separation area is now 10.42 sq m with a sieve area of 7.85sq m . The sieve table has been split into two with a drop between first and second for further separation efficiency. The 8XL is powered by a 408hp motor, cutter-bar can be up to 9m (29ft 3in) wide and the grain tank holds 10,500 litres.

Getting the biggest publicity from Deere at Hanover will undoubtable be the companys triple link suspension (TLS) system for the front axle on 6000-Series four-wheel drive tractors. As well as giving more driver comfort, the system has proved in field trials to allow tractors more pulling power and less soil or grass damage by improving positive front wheel/ground contact.

As the TLS title implies, the front axle suspension is governed from three directions. Vertical shock absorption is achieved via hydro-pneumatic cylinders with shock loads absorbed in two large volume accumulators.

Longitudinally, forces generated by the front axle are directed into the tractors centre of gravity by a member running between the front axle and the centre underside, thus stabilising the tractor.

Finally, lateral control in the suspension system is supplied by a Panhard rod stabilising the tractor over rough field surfaces.

The TLS system is electronically controlled with automatic adjustment to different load demands for optimal suspension under a wide range of operational conditions.

New from drill manufacturer Karl Becker is a combi-hitch which allows two 3m drills to be carried one above the other on the road and automatically set in position for 6m wide field work from the drivers cab. The two BD300 drills in the new tandem system offer stepless adjustment of seeding rate for 0.5 kg to 500 kg/ha and, says the manufacturer, give work rates equal to pneumatic drilling systems for a very much lower capital investment.

With almost all spray and fertiliser spreader manufacturers offering link-ups to precision farming computer/GPS systems, theres also a logical move at this years Agritechnica towards more accurate tank-content measuring and control systems. Sprayer manufacturers TeeJet will introduce a computer-linked pressure sensor which fits into the floor of any shape of tank and relays exact (guaranteed over 99% accuracy) tank content to the tractor cab. In-built facilities include pre-setting of amount to be filled or the level when refilling must take place, with optical and audio warnings in each case.

The two-disc RotaFlow fertiliser broadcaster from Greenland will appear at Agritechnica 97 with a new electrical weighing unit (EDW) which for the first time allows fertiliser to be spread exactly by weight instead of volume.

This means different forms of granules or other material can be applied with absolute accuracy, says the company. But a simple single load cell weighing technique would still lead to inaccurate readings on steep slopes – so the manufacturer has got round this by mounting the fertiliser hopper on four separate weight sensing cells incorporated into the implement frame.

The readings are then averaged by the EDW computer which has a facility to link tractor speed with desired spreading rate for mathematical-precise spreading.

A new way of protecting front loaders, tractors (and operators) from the often heavy shock stresses in loader work has been introduced by the worlds leading manufacturers of the implements, AB Ålö Maskiner, Sweden.

Ålös system is called "Soft Drive" and features twin gas-filled accumulators integrated into the hydraulic system which act as shock absorbers when the loader is in action or in raised position during transport or field operations. Cost of Soft Drive for field attachment: from £300 to £400, depending on the loader model.

Also entering the self-propelled grass mower arena this autumn is Deutz-Fahr with its "Grasant" mower-conditioner. Cutting width is 6.40m (20ft 10in) and after crimper-conditioning, the grass can be laid in 1.60m (5ft 2in) swaths or spread out up to 5m (16ft 3in) wide behind the machine for accelerated drying.

The Grasant, powered by a 260hp block, also features hydraulic folding of the mower for 3m (9ft 9in) wide road travel trim.

From the same firm comes what Deutz-Fahr describe as "The new generation of rectangular balers" – a tandem-axle giant with 3m (9ft 9in) wide pick-up backed by a grass/straw chopper which can be hydraulically swung out of operation when not required. The baler has been designed to produce the biggest bales yet available on the market at 1.20m by 0.95m (47x37in). The Power Pack 950s tandem wheels are steerable and have full suspension. Road speed: Up to 62kph (39mph). Price: Probably around £55,000.

MDWs revolutionary Arcus combine – visitors to Hanover will see it in Case livery. Inside, a mix of conventional and axial separation systems. Outside, at last, sensible wheel configuration for combines with driving wheels at the rear!

A new 5.40m (17ft 6in) folding header for Claas combines: Locked into road trim from the cab within a couple of minutes.

Deeres new front axle suspension for four-wheel drive four and six cylinder 6000-Series models comes under the title TLS for "Triple Link Suspension." Trials by the tractor maker indicates that TLS doesnt just mean a more comfortable ride, it brings better draught-output from the machine.

A new combi-hitch linking two 3m Karl Becker drills lifts one above the other to create a manageable road-legal transport width.