Archive Article: 1997/07/19

19 July 1997




Machinery manufacturers unveiled a diversity of new equipment at the Royal Show, all designed to

improve the efficiency of field operations.

Peter Hill reviews the highlights.

DEMANDS by growers for extra versatility from their machinery were met by many of the companies using the Royal as a launch platform.

Greater efficiency leading to reduced costs is the constant call from potential buyers willing to invest only in equipment that best suits their individual farm systems.

More UK growers are looking to US-style solutions of boosting field work rate, including the chaser bin method of ferrying grain between the combine and road trucks that will transport it to a distant store.

Wootton Trailers already has a couple of orders for this £20,000-plus 18cu m trailer which runs on tandem axle/flotation tyre running gear.

The big capacity – 300t/hr – transfer auger is powered by an integral, tractor pto-driven hydraulics system and folds neatly away for transport.

At present, growers using road trucks risk excessive soil compaction by running on the field or lose harvesting capacity by off-loading the combine on headlands.

The chaser bin overcomes both drawbacks and, if fitted with optional tracks, could cause less soil compaction than a conventional farm trailer hauling setup.

Extra power and torque, and the added versatility of powershift transmission, promise improved performance from Matbros latest rigid-chassis telescopic handlers.

There are three models now, the TS230 newcomer providing a more compact machine than the TS270 that originally filled this role, but which has since grown as operators demanded bigger wheels and more power. The TS230 lifts 2.3t to 5m, is 270mm shorter from nose to tail, and 230mm narrower too.

An external ram laid across the top of the boom provides the telescoping action, with wear pads adjustable from the outside as on other models.

The mid-range TS270 gains a little in girth and weight to accommodate the larger wheels and tyres that give it extra traction, flotation and ground clearance.

It also has more power – 106hp (BS) from the Perkins 1000-series engine compared with the 96hp (BS) of the TS230.

The same higher-torque motor powers the TS290, a development of the TS280 model. It now lifts 3t and comes with a choice of boom lengths to suit different applications – 6.7m, 7.4m and 9m.

All three machines mark Matbros switch from ITL to Turner transmissions, and the option of powershift on the TS270 and TS290 for the first time.

Lower noise levels, and smoother changes between gears and forward/reverse are claimed, together with faster working cycles from the powershift demanding less driver effort.

The increasingly in-vogue use of plastics for mudguards, fuel tanks and engine covers features on the machines, with the practical benefits of knock tolerance and no rusting. The shapely moulded fuel tank also gives a clearer view to the right side of the machines.

Giant US prairie-style seed drill from Flexi-coil, Seaton Ross, York offers seed-only or combined seed and fertiliser drilling with minimal preceding cultivations.

A 3500-litre trailed seed cart carries the seeding unit toolbar, with grain mechanically metered from the pressurised steel tank, then transported by air to the seeding units.

These comprise of an angled notched disc alongside a wedge-shaped opener, capable of working into stubble.

A novel option is the seed treatment applicator that puts on fungicides or insecticides during the sowing process. The 6.4m wide outfit is priced at £49,900.

Looking for more consistent application of irrigation water? Then the heavy duty reel irrigator from Jones Engineering, Westwoodside, Doncaster could be the answer.

Instead of winding-in under water turbine power, it has an electric motor powered by a battery which is charged by a small water turbine-driven generator.

The same electrical source also runs the computerised control and monitoring system that includes such features as a flashing beacon when wind-out or wind-in is almost complete, and which will soon have a remote interrogation and pager alarm.

However, the variable power consumption of water-driven turbines, leading to variable pressure at the discharge gun and some variation in irrigating width, is the reason for switching to electric reel drive.

Electronics company, Griffith Elder, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, claims more consistent spray application and reduced risk of structural damage when using its Boomerang level-control system on wide spray booms.

Ultrasonic sensors monitor boom to ground or crop height and activate a hydraulic levelling cylinder to keep things on an even keel. Price is £1,750.


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