John Deere kicked off its UK combine tour last week. Andy Collings went to see the latest harvesting equipment at work.
Harvest 2008 may still be a long way from being finished, but combine manufacturers are already shifting their sights towards the 2009 harvest. John Deere is showing off its latest kit in a series of roadshows which provide a chance to tell growers about the latest changes.
For a start, the flagship 530hp S690i rotary combine now has what Deere calls a high-performance package, designed to increase output and improve the grain sample.
Three sets of improvements make up the package. The first involves the cleaning shoe, which normally has its last 50cm blanked off. This has now become part of the adjustable sieve area and is used to control the air pressure exerted by the cleaning fans. Deere says this not only helps with separation, but also means that sieve openings and fan speeds don’t need to be adjusted as often as crop conditions change during the day.
T Series and S Series combines are now available in i-complete and i-pro versions – the latter specification has ProDrive,
which is a powershift transmission into which two speeds can be pre-programmed
The second part of the package focuses on the rotor, where the threshing elements are now much smoother than before and have rounded edges. They still do their job in the same way, says the company, but damage to straw and grain is reduced.
The third part of the high-performance package involves the use of large wire outlets followed by two sets of small wire outlets in the base of the rotor, an arrangement designed to prevent excessive amounts of material falling on to the cleaning shoe.
New spec levels for the T Series
The T Series models, which were introduced last year along with the W and C Series combines, are now available in three spec levels – standard, i-complete or i-pro. The S690i, though, is offered only in i-complete or i-pro versions.
The i-complete specification is identical to the former i models. But the new specification, called i-pro, incorporates a feature called ProDrive.
ProDrive is basically a powershift transmission into which two speeds can be pre-programmed – one for harvesting and the other for headland turns, for example. Each speed is activated by pressing the appropriate button.
A high-performance package for the 690i is claimed to produce significant increases in output – trials this season will find out how much
The system also activates an automatic park brake when the main lever is moved to neutral. Deere says the automatic brake comes into its own when having to stop on steep hills.
ProDrive also allows the driver to use a differential lock in slippery conditions, with the diff-lock automatically disengaging at speeds over 11.5kph. The system is recommended for use with Deere’s HillMaster models rather than level land use, although that can be specified.
Like many manufacturers, Deere is gradually coralling its various displays and monitors into a single all-singing, all-dancing display. Four buttons are used to select the required type of information – machine settings, harvesting information, combine set-up and diagnostic/calibration. Each section can then be subdivided to provide more precise information or allow adjustments to be made.
Changes for the rotary S690i combine include a more rounded finish to the threshing elements on the rotor.
This, says John Deere, improves straw quality and also that of the grain sample
Season starts earlier
The combine selling season has started early this year, with manufacturers reporting that the prospect of production delays is encouraging buyers to get their names down for machines they need for the 2009 harvest.
Deere combine specialist Mark Smiths says he has noticed that customers are now making buying decisions much earlier than before.
“I think the experience they have had with other machines this year has focused their minds a little,” he says. “There is also the prospect of price increases as the year goes on due to higher manufacturing costs.”