24 August 2001

Thumbs-up across board

Has Massey Ferguson

achieved new standards in

harvesting throughput and

threshing performance with

its eight straw walker Cerea

7278? Andy Moore heard

the views of one grower who

operates two of them

WHEN Philip Chamberlain tried out Massey Fergusons flagship Cerea combine last year, he welcomed the machines greater output and threshing performance.

With combinable acreage set to increase from 1255ha (3100 acres) to 1488ha (3675 acres) for the 2002 harvest, the decision was made to replace two MF40 combines with a pair of Cerea 7278s.

MF claims the Cerea combine offers record-breaking levels of throughput and grain separation achievable from a conventional straw walker machine. Topping out the 7200 series, which was introduced in 1999, the Cerea boasts 20% more output than the earlier MF40, claims Massey Ferguson.

"Last harvest we operated one Cerea alongside an MF40 combine and it had a significant edge on harvesting capacity," says Mr Chamberlain, who runs Crowmarsh Battle Farms, near Wallingford, Oxon. "The Cerea was always ahead of the game working next to the MF40 and demonstrated impressive threshing ability in standing winter wheat and spring barley in a range of harvesting conditions."

Although output undoubtedly varies according to the condition and variety of crop, combine operator Chris Limb says the Cerea can harvest up to 35t/hour from a 6.5t/ha spring barley crop.

Going flat out and covering the most acres, however, is not always deemed essential to harvest the 1488ha (3675 acres) which are run under owner-occupied business tenancies and whole-farm contracts.

"If we are not rushed off our feet when harvesting early cereals, the aim is to get the most tonnes off a field with minimum losses rather than knock-down the most acres in day," says Mr Limb. "However, if we are behind schedule there is the option to push the two Cerea machines harder and accept more losses if milling wheat quality threatens to decline."

To achieve more capacity and aggressive threshing performance, the combine is equipped with a 387hp 6cyl Sisu block, bringing with it 40hp more than the MF40. Harnessing power from the 8.4 litre engine is a 7.5m (25ft) Powerflow header which is fitted as standard, although Crowmarsh Battle Farms opted for an Autolevel version to reduce grain losses on slopes.

In construction, the table has been treated to a number of tweaks to improve crop entry, including 19 – as opposed to 15 – retractable fingers on the auger, greater distance between auger flights and an increase in distance between the cut-off strip deflector and table bottom.

Maximising the 7278s appetite calls for a concave fitted with 12 rather than 13 bars, eight centre supports instead of six and a wider gap between the concave wires.

"The concave offers greater permeability than the 40 series version and is more effective at separating grain before the walkers," says Mr Limb. "The combine is also fitted with eight narrow, rather than six straw walkers which are more aggressive at tearing apart greener crop treated with strobilurin."

A new design of straw walker crankshaft and geometry of crank movement also helps to treat straw more aggressively. Further benefits are claimed to be better agitation within the walkers entire area, particularly the sides, and more equal loading when working across slopes.

Positioning the crankshafts to provide more space on the walkers also enables the grain pan and shaker shoe to work more effectively, insists MF.

The Cereas Constant Flow system, which is set up from the in-cab Datavision terminal, also comes up trumps in the threshing department, says Mr Limb. "The system accurately adjusts combine forward speeds according to drum load which increases and decreases as the density of crop fluctuates.

"The terminal can be set to memorise the loading on the drum when harvesting a particular field which can then be used in subsequent fields with similar yields to maintain constant throughputs."

An advocate of electronic gadgetry, Mr Limb says he spends a lot of time using the Datavision terminal to set up the threshing system to minimise losses and get the most out of the combine.

The yield monitor, he claims, is very accurate when compared with results measured from the farms weighbridge.

Cab creature comforts that are deemed to make life easier over a long working day include a more easily adjustable seat and armrest, together with unloading auger control which is from floor switches and the main control lever.

Other design improvements worthy of praise, he says, is electrical operation of the hydrostatic transmission and the combines 10,500 litre grain hopper. "The grain tank enables the machine to get a decent number of acres under its belt before unloading, while the electrically operated hopper lids and straw chopper deflectors which can be controlled from the cab." &#42

CEREA 7278

Number of walkers Eight.

Walker area 7.4sq m.

Engine 387hp Sisu.

Header 7.5m Powerflow.

Grain tank 10,500 litres.

Price £190,400.

Philip Chamberlain: "The greater outputs and threshing capacity of our two Cereas will allow us to harvest our increasing acreage more efficiently."