12 December 1998

survival of the fittest

Innovative machines, enthusiastic visitors and even some open cheque books were in evidence at the 1998 Royal Smithfield Show. David Millar reports on cultivation kit on this page, and spraying on p36.

BELIEVE all the rumours and the winds of change are certainly about to blow through the farm machinery industry. But its a familiar story of the big getting bigger and the weak going to the wall.

Or is it? Kverneland president and chief executive Atle Eide confirmed that the worlds largest implement manufacturer is still on the acquisition trail but offered his own view that the big tractor makers might soon be concentrating on their core businesses and not on the subsidiary machinery makers they have recently been buying.

Mr Eides company has completed its original strategy of setting up a full range of implements from cultivations through drills and sprayers to grassland machines, and it is still returning healthy profits. Despite expecting short-term turbulence in the machinery market, he predicts a move to more complex and larger machines in the medium term, and he plans to grow Kverneland by 10% each year through either organic growth or acquisition.

However, smaller low volume companies will find it hard to cope with more demanding customers and fewer farms, said Mr Eide. He added, however, that medium-term prospects for the large tractor manufacturers might mean having to lose some of their implement interests to focus on their core products and technology.

Kverneland launched a clutch of new lines including this KLA combination seeding harrow. Front linkage, 1,000-litre seed hopper and Accord seeding unit have been added on to what is basically a Packomat in either 3m or 4m working widths. The KLA Combi can be fitted with an additional 1,250 litres rear hopper for fertiliser if required. Prices still to be fixed.

Galucho put forward a new range of Cambridge rolls on the Burdens Distribution stand in sizes from 6.3-12.3m, priced from £6,200 up to £16,130. The Portuguese-built, hydraulic folding rolls will be available on 20in Cambridge and breaker rings, with crosskill rings available as an option. All are subject to a zero interest rate offer through Highland Finance.

Dowdeswell has added a 4m PH 400 folding power harrow to its cultivation range. For 120-180hp tractors, the newcomer costs £13,714 with crumbler rollers, £14,978 with packer rollers and £15,697 with rubber packers. It comes as standard with rear pto, levelling boards and a central tine for complete soil movement across the working width.

Vicons latest drill is the LZ515 – a 4m, 32-row solo drill which folds to 3m for transport. As well as Suffolk coulters, this pneumatic drill can be fitted with 330mm diameter, concave disc coulters for difficult conditions such as dealing with large amounts of trash after potatoes or sugar beet. With Suffolk coulters, it costs from £13,150, and the disc coulter version £15,750.

Among the non-powered cultivators, Concepts Speed Till Swing was an unusual alternative approach to a folding machine. A substantial central pivot on the 3.5m, 4m and 4.5m models means the body of the machine can swivel to a road legal width for transport. Built in Italy for London-based Concept Farm Machinery, the 4m Swing costs £11,000 and requires 130hp.

Aiming to cut establishment costs, Vaderstaads Rexius Twin can plough or disc, press and drill. The concept of the new combination is consolidation without compaction – a new coulter and press design giving extra pressure and penetration for all soils and conditions. Prices start at £23,000 for 4.5m working width up to £43,000 for 10.3m.