Cereals 2008: Machinery round-up

There was a lot of new kit on show at last week’s Cereals Event. We round up the best of it.


Auto boom height

When it comes to buying a sprayer, it’s not just GPS-controlled auto-boom shut-off systems that are on everyone’s shortlist – auto boom height control is becoming just as popular.

The principle is simple. Two (or sometimes four) ultrasonic sensors on the boom measure the distance between the boom and the crop and raise or tilt the boom automatically to keep the gap uniform. The basic idea has been around for 15 years, but it’s the higher processing power of modern electronic black boxes that has made them work quickly and efficiently.

At least three specialist makers, Norac (sold by Precise Solutions), Raven (sold by Patchwork) and Muller (sold by David King Electronics) have systems that can be fitted to sprayers with electro-hydraulic boom control and Deere has its own system. All four report sharp rises in requests for these systems on both 24m and 36m booms.

Hardi, for instance, which uses a Norac-based system, said 50-60% of its big sprayers are being fitted with auto height control. Deere, meanwhile, said almost all its self-propelled sprayers and most of its big 800i trailed sprayers go out with auto height control.

What’s the attraction? Instead of the sprayer operator having to keep making manual adjustment to keep the booms parallel with the ground, these systems do it automatically. They’re not just useful on undulating ground, either – some of the bumpy seed-beds produced by min-till systems also induce the sort of boom bounce that can be largely cancelled out by auto boom height control.

Other benefits are less damage to booms, better spray application and the ability to work more accurately in low-light conditions. Allied with GPS-activated auto-boom shut-off on headlands, it makes for a high-tech, almost foolproof set-up.

Cost vary according to whether the system just lifts and lowers the boom or whether it can tilt the two sides of the boom too. Precise Solutions quotes £2995-£4995, Deere £2000-£2200 and Muller about £2800. Patchwork is finalising prices.


Eyre combine header trailer

As combine headers get wider and heavier, the need to have a beefy trailer to carry them on the road gets more important. Lincolnshire manufacturer Bob Eyre has responded with a unit that has a pivoting headstock (to ease manoeuvring), an extending drawbar (to simplify hitching to the back of a combine), hydraulic brakes, off-centre wheels (so no need to manoeuvre the combine feeder housing over them) and a clamp with extendible arms. This 30ft model is in New Holland livery, but Mr Eyre says he can make a header to suit any combine. Cost is from £4000.


Patchwork weather station

This Watchdog ultrasonic weather station from Usk firm Patchwork Technology sits on top of the tractor and gives on-the-move recording of wind speed, temperature and humidity. Because it has a small GPS receiver in the top, it can compensate for tractor speed and direction, and give readings as if the unit were stationary. These weather records are automatically added to the other spraying information collected by the firm’s Blackbox Cruizer GPS unit. Price will be around £1600 and it’s expected to appeal to growers who have to keep detailed records for farm assurance or traceability purposes.


Combine champ

James Fielden, assistant farm manager at Velcourt’s Vine Farm, Wendy, Royston, Hertfordshire, was the winner of this year’s National Champion Combine Driver competition. The competition is organised by Norfolk-based combine trainer Tony Gardiner, who carried out more than 300 in-field checks during the 2007 harvest on each of the 54 drivers he trained earlier that year. Mr Fielden, who was driving a three-year-old New Holland CR980 combine, had total losses of between 30 and 45kg/ha in one field and just 20kg/ha in a second field. “Preparation, maintenance and settings had all been done excellently and his operation of all controls was a real joy to watch,” commented Mr Gardiner.


Amazone comp winner


Richard Larder (second from right) who grows arable crops with his father Ron (far left) on the family farm near Keelby, Grimsby, North Lincolnshire , was the winner of an Amazone ZA-M 2200-litre fertiliser spreader in the recent FWi/Amazone competition timed to coincide with Amazone’s launch of the first-ever pto-driven twin-disc spreader 50 years ago. Also in the picture are Amazone’s brand manager Simon Brown (second from left) and FW machinery editor David Cousins


Stalwart combine driver

Ken Clare, 71, who drives the combine (among other things) on the 720ha (1780-acre) farm where he works near Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, received a special award on the Claas stand for his long service to the farm. Ken started his combine-driving on the farm at the controls of a trailed Claas Super in 1958 and this year will see him take the controls of a Claas Lexion 480. Also in the picture is Trevor Tyrell from Claas UK.

* Anyone else got any nice stories of decades of working with a series of machines from one particular maker, whether it’s combines, tractors or whatever? Tell us about it by emailing to: fwmachinery@rbi.co.uk.


Bargam 5200 Compact sprayer


Sprayers are steadily getting bigger – both in terms of boom width and tank size and Gambetti UK (which brings in Italian-made Bargam sprayers) is no exception. The company says that while 24m is still the most common boom width ordered, 28m and 30m units are getting popular too. Its latest 5200 Compact trailed sprayer is available with booms from 20-36m, with 40m coming soon. The 36m machine, interestingly, can spray at both 36m and 24m widths. Each side of the boom is independently sprung and tank options are 4000 and 5000 litres. Prices start at about £40,000.


Landquip Electrac

Suffolk sprayer maker Landquip is another company responding to demands for ever larger sprayers, especially from those wanting to put on liquid fertiliser. Its Electrac range of trailed sprayers has had a boost in tank size from 3500 litres to 4000 and the single steering ram on the headstock has been replaced by a quicker-acting twin-ram system. Bigger 350 and 700 litres/min pump options are now offered and there’s a neat new electronic display unit with an easy-nudge system for turning boom sections on and off. There’s also a clever tank contents monitor that works on pressure rather than the usual flow-meter and is claimed to be more accurate as a result. Prices start at £32,000.


Deere combines

Though officially launched at the tail-end of last year, John Deere‘s new combine models – the 400hp T670i and C670i plus the 530hp S690i – were on show for the first time in the UK. All offer up to 23% more output than their non-i equivalents and come fully loaded with high-tech kit, including GPS auto-steer, auto feed rate control and Deere’s Harvest Doc software. A choice of in-cab display systems is also offered.


Dowdeswell plough

Dowdeswell, Britain sole plough maker, had its dual-capability 155 Series plough on show. This is a fully-mounted plough that can work on land or in-furrow and is designed to go behind tracked or wheeled tractors from 230hp to 325hp. Both front and rear furrows can also be unbolted, allowing the plough to be converted from a six or seven furrow unit for use in the furrow to a seven or eight furrow on-the-land plough. It’s available in limited number for the 2008 post-harvest ploughing season and prices start at £19,946 for the six-furrow model.


Knight Rabe drill

Knight M-drill, which combines a Knight M-type cultivator with a Rabe MegaSeed drill, avoids the need for a press before drilling in most situations. The two units can be combined or separated in about an hour, making it suitable as both primary or secondary cultivator. Widths go from 3-5m and hopper capacities run from 2500 to 3500 litres. It’s GPS and Isobus-compatible too.


Shelbourne hedgecutter

Shelbourne Reynolds unveiled its two new MD hedgecutters, which are aimed at farmers and contractors who want a relatively low-cost machine. The MD50 has 5m reach, the MD56 has 5.6m reach and both are easily fitted to the tractor linkage via a stabiliser frame. Power slew and parallel linkage is standard and power for all boom movement is provided by the tractor’s hydraulics. A 1.2m direct drive flail head is fitted, with the option of a belt drive. Prices are £10,350 and £11,390 respectively.


Deere sprayer recirculation

John Deere‘s 5430i self-propelled sprayer and its 800i and 800 TF series trailed sprayers are now fitted with a new recirculation system with pneumatic switching of the spray nozzles. The new system is designed to provide maximum liquid agitation while maintaining high pressures and flow rates in the spray lines. This, says John Deere, ensures fast, drip-free nozzle on/off switching and improved spray accuracy.


New Holland 9060 tractor

New Holland’s T9060 articulated-steer tractor, capable of a peak power of 597hp, brought some welcome muscle to the Cereals proceedings. It’s one of four models spanning the 428-597hp (peak power) bracket (see last week’s FW for details). And in case we’ve inadvertently caused any confusion about which engines appear in which NH products, the T9030, 9040 and 9050 tractors all have Iveco 13-litre straight sixes, while the T9060 has a Cummins 15-litre straight six. On the combine front, the CR9060E, CR9070E, CR9080E and CR9090E all have Iveco straight sixes ranging in cubic capacity from 9 litres to 13 litres. With the foragers, the FR9040, FR9050 and FR9060 all have Iveco straight sixes ranging from 10-14 litres. The FR9080 has an 18-litre Caterpillar straight six and the FR9090 has an Iveco 20-litre V8 engine. All powers quoted are peak hp.

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