New Holland combines gain in-house tracks

New Holland is the latest company to offer in-house tracks on its combines, just a few weeks after John Deere said it was now offering tracks.

Both, in a sense, are following the lead set by Claas, which has had a lot of success in selling tracked versions of its combines.

To be fair, New Holland has offered after-market tracks on its combines for some time. The units, made by Italian firm Tidue, worked well, but maximum road speed was limited to 22-23kph on the road. That was fine a few years ago, says NH combine specialist Nigel Honeyman, but farmers and contractors are wanting faster road speeds to minimise the time getting from farm to farm.

The new Smarttrax in-house tracks have a top road speed of 30kph at a relatively modest 1,600 engine rpm. That should keep fuel use down, something that is becoming increasingly important to farmers. Logically enough, the tracks are closely related to those used on Quadtracs from fellow CNH brand Case-IH, though the fitment system is different.

New Holland says it will offer two track widths, 610mm (24in) and 760mm (30in), but it’s the narrower ones that are likely to be more popular, since they keep the overall combine width within 3.48 – somewhat slimmer than 900 wheels, which typically bring the overall combine width to 3.8m.

The other key benefit of tracks is the reduced ground compaction they produce compared to wheels. As headers get wider (and heavier) and grain tanks get bigger, the extra weight is becoming an ever greater concern to many farmers.

“You may start with a 19t combine,” says Mr Honeyman, “but a wide header can add 3.5 to 4t and a full grain 12,000 litre tank is another 9t. So you’re looking at an overall weight close to 30t.” That’s fine in dry years, but in wet years can be a worry.

Mr Honeyman reckons that 70-75% of UK farmers with big headers are looking to use tracks, a figure that almost certainly applies to farmers using Claas and Deere combines too. Typical cost of a set is £30,000.

Other changes to New Holland’s CR combines include new, lower-emission engines with SCR/AdBlue technology. There’s also a £610 twin-rotor option on 90 series combines that gives 5-8% extra capacity, a new 26cm (diagonal) Intelliview monitor.

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