14 weird and wacky machines at Agritechnica 2017

While there were heaps of mainstream machinery launches at Agritechnica, tucked away in various corners and back alleys were all the more unusual items. 

Here we round up a few of the weird and wonderful bits and pieces that graced the halls of the Hanover agricultural kit show.

Camelid self-loading box trailer (Czech Republic)

Camelid self-loading box trailer

Czech firm STS’s novel Camelid trailer is a self-loading rig that can be used to shift boxes or pallets without the need for a forklift or loader.

With hydraulic axles and a drawbar that drop the main frame down to ground level, it is reversed so the runners slide under the load and then lifted to raise it for transport.

The biggest will carry six boxes in line, three high and is particularly popular with the vineyard, fruit and veg industry, according to the company.

But it’s not just limited to that sort of work – other bodies are available including livestock floats, bowsers, hoppers and stills for carrying bulk materials such as timber.

Weighing in at 4.3t empty, the trailer’s lift hydraulics also provide suspension and, on tandem axle versions, enable one set of wheels to be lifted when running empty.

See also: Unusual and exotic harvesters: Coffee

Moro Aratri monster plough (Italy)

The Moro Aratri plough

When it comes to big ploughs, it’s not all about length – sometimes it’s more depth that counts and this monster Moro Aratri single-furrow reversible can dig down to more than 1m.

Usually used when replanting vineyards and forestry plantations, it’s strong enough to cut through roots and bring entire rootballs to the surface.

On peaty ground with underlying clay it is also employed to bring a bit of extra “body” to the surface.

The massive mouldboards are faced with plastic to ensure claggy clay doesn’t have a chance to stick.

Unlike a normal plough with skimmers up front, it has a set of standard-sized bodies running behind the main mouldboards to chop the resulting furrow in half.

All this heavy metal means plenty of poke is required in the yoke – Moro Aratri suggests no less than 350hp up front.

Mitsubishi Mahindra (Japan/India)

Mitsubishi Mahindra crawler-

This striking-looking Mitsubishi rubber-tracked crawler was one of a number of products you might not have expected to see on the stand of Mahindra.

Standing alongside Finnish-made Sampo combines and Turkish Armatrac/Erkunt tractors, it reflects the Indian tractor giant’s strategy for global domination.

Not satisfied by being the world’s largest tractor manufacturer by numbers, to widen its reach in Europe and the Far East the company has recently bought stakes in Scandinavia’s leading harvester specialist, Mitsubishi’s agricultural division and one of Turkey’s biggest tractor producers.

Aside from a 138hp Caterpillar engine, everything else on the Mitsubishi GCR 1380 is built in-house in the Japanese firm’s own production facilities.

It is sold under the Mahindra badge in the USA but as yet there are no plans to start marketing it in Europe. 

De Pietri salad harvester (Italy)

De Pietri salad harvester

Looking like a cross between a combine and a forage wagon, the De Pietri FR 100 is in fact an industrial salad and herb harvester.

Up front a 2.05m wide combine-style cutterbar and reel gently entice the crop on to an elevator which propels it up into the scissor-lift, high-tip hopper.

Once the slatted body is full the rig is reversed up to a waiting trailer or truck and the chain-and-slat floor discharges it.

A four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, it is powered by a 100hp John Deere engine driving a hydrostatic transmission. 

STW electric tractor concept (Germany)

STW electric tractor

While on the subject of volts and amps for agricultural kit, this unusual looking oddity is a concept vehicle put together by electrification specialist STW.

The German company supplies a lot of the clever kit for Fendt’s E100 battery-powered compact tractor and is working with Ropa on a diesel electric driveline for beet harvesters that is hoped to improve their efficiency by as much as 25%.

Unlikely ever to make it to market, the firm’s semi-autonomous SymonE concept tractor is instead is being used as a demonstration platform for STW’s cutting-edge technology and as a research “mule” for electrically driven implements.

The rig is based on a French Noremat systems tractor with the usual diesel engine ripped out and a 100kWh lithium ion battery installed in its place.

This gives the vehicle three to five hours run time depending on the work it’s doing and will recharge in just one hour.  

Hortech rocket vacuum (Italy)

Hortech rocket vacuum

Designed to extend the life of crops of rocket, the Hortech Hoover XL does exactly what its name suggests, cleaning up after each harvest of leaves is completed – a job usually done by a specialist harvester that uses a band saw to cut the leaves and an elevator to transfer them into boxes.

In the process, bits that don’t make the grade drop to the ground and can contaminate the next harvest (each planting will generally be cut three to four times).

It’s the same story with straggly regrowth.

The Hoover XL deals with that issue by vacuuming up all the unwanted detritus and plonking it in a tipping hopper for removal from the field or greenhouse that the crop is grown in.

This ultra-clean approach has its payoff – it means the crop can be cut six or seven times in the season without the need for reseeding, making the unit’s €70,000 (£62,540) ticket price easily justified according to the company.

Powered by a 75hp Kubota diesel engine, all-wheel steer machine has a clever swing-over Hoover head that means it can work in the bed it is running up or the one alongside.  

Zandt Cargo dump trailer (Bavaria)

Zandt Cargo dump trailer

It might look like someone has hacked the front end off a quarry-spec articulated dumper and welded a drawbar on instead, but this is actually a purpose-made dump trailer for shifting aggregate about.

Rather than the traditional design with a twin-rail ladder chassis supporting a flat-bottomed skip, the Zandt Cargo TD240 has a V-profile, wedge-shaped body carried on a single monster box-section beam.

Long single-stroke rams on either side of the Hardox body propel it skywards and being up out of the way don’t impact on ground clearance.

The big advantage of this design is said to be stability when tipping on side slopes – because the skip’s weight is channeled down through the central beam it doesn’t generate the same type of twisting forces that wider-spaced hinge pivots and tipping rams do on a conventional ladder frame trailer.

As if a 70deg tip angle wasn’t enough, the Zandt has another trick up its sleeve, being able to crank the body 6deg. closer to vertical by pumping oil into the drawbar suspension ram.

That same plumbing circuit incorporates a clever weight-transfer system that senses when the tractor could do with a bit more load on the drawbar and alters its pitch accordingly.

All these flash features don’t come cheap or lightweight though – the 32t capacity, 20cu.m TD240 weighs in at 7.8t and has a price tag of €50,000. 

UFKES chipper (Holland)

UFKES chipper

Dutch firm UFKES makes a whole range of woodchippers including this self-loading tractor-driven version with a high-tip hopper.

The chipper itself will handle timber up to 55cm in diameter and requires a minimum of 170hp at the shaft although with a 300hp reverse-drive tractor coupled up it runs a treat, according to the company.

With the operator’s seat spun around to face the pile of timber he can see to use the crane to load the chipper at the same time as directing the flow of material out of the chute.

Bunkers are available in 8, 13, 20 and 25cu m bunkers, all capable of discharging their load to a height of 4.5m. While prices for the big machine come in at about €180,000 (£160,000), UFKES builds a smaller version for €100,000 (£89,000).

Cosmeco wheel ditcher (Italy)

Cosmeco wheel ditcher

If you want a quick way of cutting shallow ditches and drainage channels across fields then the Big Storm double wheel ditcher could be the tool for the job.

Claimed to be the biggest rotary ditcher in the world, twin 180cm diameter rotors each equipped with 24 blades cut a V-shaped trench which can be up to 145cm deep.

With each spinning disc weighing in at more than 500kg, it needs a minimum of 150hp-200hp upfront but that weight means sheer inertia helps keep the blades cutting through densely compacted soil.

Smaller versions are available which use two different-sized wheels, enabling them to throw the spoil out to just one side – handy if you don’t want to upset the neighbours.

Although the workrates of 0.4kph to 0.7kph might sound steady, having the potential to carve out 7km of drainage channels in one day makes doing the job with a digger look pretty pedestrian. Prices start from about €6,500 (£5, 809). 

Westermann 6wd tool carrier (Germany)

Westerman 6wd tool carrier Dozer

Developed primarily for the poultry sector where mini tool-carriers are used to run rotovators to fluff up bedding to stop bug populations building up, the 6wd Westermann Dozer is apparently proving something of a cash cow.

Because broiler birds no longer suffer scorched hocks from sitting in the proverbial, their legs can now be shipped to China where they are viewed as a delicacy, generating an extra 2 cents of income per chicken.

But the Dozer is finding favour in other livestock enterprises too where a compact machine is required.

With three-point linkages front and rear, it can be kitted out with all manner of implements including yard scrapers, cubicle bedders, silage pushers and flail mowers.

Power is provided by a 29hp Kubota three-cylinder diesel engine which drives a hydrostatic transmission and being a skid-steer unit means it can swing round within its own length.

It costs €14,000 (£12,513). 

Paus swivel loader (Germany)

Paus swivel loader

© Janet Grosse

A name best known in the world of mining machinery, Paus had a pivot-steer loader on display with an extra trick up its sleeve.

Like the hundreds of other similar handlers at the show, it bends in the middle to steer and has a telescopic boom to stack loads at height. Where it differs is that it has a turntable at the base of the boom, enabling it to swivel its attachment to 90deg to either left or right-hand sides.

Key advantages of this optional extra is said to be it can be used to accurately position materials in cramped areas without lots of shunting or bent steelwork.

In a livestock situation dropping bales into straw yards over feed barriers from a central passage would become a whole lot easier, likewise pushing up silage.

The TSL 8.7 model on show will lift a maximum of 2.4t, will reach up to 4.8m, has a 73hp Deutz engine and hydrostatic transmission. It costs approximately €70,000, depending on spec. 

Gourdon side-tip, high-tip trailer (France)

Gourdon side-tip high-tip trailer

French firm Gourdon makes specialist high-tip trailers for bulk crops that can be loaded into lorries direct off the field.

With a cubic capacity of 33cu.m, the TBG 330 lifts to 4.3m and tips to one side, allowing it to pull alongside bulkers and discharge into them without any double-handling.

Kitted out with weigh-cells, it’s apparently particularly popular with growers of high-value vegetables such as sweetcorn and beetroot but is also employed hauling more mainstream crops such as sugar beet or potatoes.

Hoisting 15t more than 4m into the air and then flipping it sideways obviously has an implication on stability so there is a hydraulic axle lock-out function plumbed into the tip circuit to ensure it doesn’t flop over on to the waiting wagon.

Belt conveyors to cushion the fall of delicate crops and to help top off level loads add €15,000 (£13,404) to the €39,000 (£34,850) price of the standard model.

There’s also the option to add bolt-on tracks for a further €30,000 (£26,808). 

Sacho cover crop chopper roller (Spain)

Sacho cover crop chopper

Designed to deal with the tough stalks left after grain maize harvest and to help in accelerating the breakdown of cover crops, the Sacho Geacut chopper roller has one novel feature up its sleeve.

Its clever rubber-damped hubs mean the rig can run at more than 30kph without the risk of it shaking itself to bits.

The big diameter bearing on the end of each drum connects to the frame via a five-pointed star.

At the tip of each point there’s a hefty rubber doughnut to smooth out any shock-loads generated as the rolls whisk over stubbles.

Made from Hardox 450 reinforced steel, the blades are bolted on for easy replacement. While the 6m folding rig weighs in at 5.2t empty, the drums can be filled with 1,800 litres of water to take it to more than 7t. Sacho is a sister company to TMC Cancela which makes the flail toppers sold by Spaldings in the UK.

As yet it is not clear whether the rolls will make it to our shores but on the Continent they sell for just over €30,000 (£26,803). 

SIP five-gang trailed mo-co (Slovenia)

SIP five-gang mower

Having made a bit of a splash at Grassland & Muck 2017, Slovenian grass kit manufacturer SIP wowed the crowds in Germany with a five-gang trailed mower-conditioner set-up.

The Disco 1500 TFC couples up four 3.27m beds in a folding frame which add up to a 14.55m total cut width when combined with another perched on the nose of the tractor providing the muscle.

Folding up to under 3m for transport, the big rig weighs in at just shy of 9t and realistically needs a tug capable of pumping out 350hp-400hp to do a decent job.

That bulk and power requirement is matched by the price-tag – it is expected to cost in the region of £120,000 when it goes on sale next year.