New Holland has revealed its new generation of self-propelled forage-harvesters.
Timed to coincide with the opening of the SIMA show this weekend in Paris, the long-awaited launch of the FR9000-series machines marks the end of a desolate period for New Holland which has seen sales of its FX foragers plummet.
By its own admission, the firm has been slow to develop this new harvester.
“The R&D phase for the new forager started in 1995 when the FX was first launched. We’ve had plenty of time to endurance test all the prototypes and pre-production machines. That means we have complete confidence in the reliability of the FR9000 from its launch.”
The line-up consists of five models with maximum outputs ranging from 424hp to 824hp. Previously the largest FX60 model topped out at 571hp.
Everything about the FR9000 is new and it carries nothing over from the outgoing FX range.
At the business end, the chopper unit uses a completely different design. The crop-flow channel is 15% wider than before and the cylinder is 15% bigger in diameter – that makes it the largest on the market.
Three drum options are available with 16, 24 or 32 knives arranged in a chevron pattern. Chop lengths of between 3-66mm are possible.
New Holland has moved away from using a radial blower unit which, although a strong performer in grass, had its weaknesses for maize harvesting.
The company has adopted an in-line blower similar to that used by much of the competition.
However in testing it was found that the distance created to allow fitting of a ‘corn-cracker’ processor between the chopper cylinder and the blower meant that crop-flow slowed down.
To remedy this, NH’s engineers developed an ingenious counterbalance system which links the blower unit and the crop-processor. As the processor is removed from work, the blower swings down, reducing the distance between it and the knives.
By doing this, the company claims to have increased efficiency and reduced power requirements by 40hp. Output is said to have increased by 15%, horsepower-for-horsepower, thanks to the wider crop-flow channel, greater inertia from the larger cylinder and redesigned blower set-up.
The most powerful – the FR9090 – also uses an Iveco but it’s a 20-litre V8 that pumps out 824hp.
All engines are mounted lengthways which has allowed NH to reduce chassis width to maintain a 55deg steering angle. This means that although the FR9000 is 75cm (30in) longer than the FX, its turning circle remains the same at 12.2m (37ft).
A longitudinally-mounted engine gives the company the option to fit a larger power-plant in the future. Engineers speculate that a 1200hp V12 unit could be fitted, especially if equipped with an individual cylinder cut-out system to limit fuel use when maximum power is not required.
Smack in the middle of the range, the 578hp FR9060 benefits from technology that is more usually employed in the truck world.
Dubbed ‘TurboCompound’, the system channels more power from the exhaust gases back through the engine.
Having powered the standard turbocharger, gases pass through a second turbine which transfers extra power to the crankshaft through a gearset and viscous-coupling. This is claimed to reduce fuel consumption by up to 8%.
A new transmission control system is also said to offer fuel saving potential. In the field, PowerCruise allows the operator to set a maximum travel speed and minimum engine revs. Acting like cruise-control, the set-up ensures the forager is kept at maximum capacity at all times.
On the road, PowerCruise reduces engine revs to 1650rpm once the machine reaches its top speed of 30kph or 40kph. This reduces fuel use by as much as 20%, it is claimed.
Although the cab looks like it is borrowed from NH’s top-spec CR and CX combine ranges, it is only the styling and controls that are shared.
Its fish-bowl-like appearance means that views to the outer limits of the spout’s reach are maximised.
Inside, the IntelliView computer monitors machine performance and functions such as operation of the metal detector. Changes between the hydrostatic transmission’s four ranges are made remotely by switch as with NH combines.
New Holland FR9000 forage-harvesters
Model FR9040 FR9050 FR9060 FR9080 FR9090
NB – List prices include crop processor but not header.
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Worldwide self-propelled forager sales currently stand at 2300units/year and that is continuously growing as interest in bio-energy builds.
For example, Germany – recognised as a leader in biomass energy production – saw forager sales climb from 313units in 2005 to over 500units in 2006.
Reports suggest that biofuel production will triple over the next three years – no wonder that New Holland is keen to capture a slice of the cake.
Average power is also on the up. The company reports that over the last five years forager power has climbed by 20hp/year and that the greatest growth is seen with machines over 530hp.