7 February 1997


A prestigious show warrants prestigious awards when it concerns the recognition of latest machinery developments. Judges of the latest batch of SIMA awards have identified some notable achievements, as Andy Collings reports

WITH the development of precision farming now in full swing any innovation on the machinery front able to utilise information produced by yield mapping systems is of interest.

Catching the eye of a forward thinking panel of French judges was Amazones latest contribution to precision farming – a fertiliser spreader which uses satellite navigation to "know" where it is in a field and apply variable rates of fertiliser in respect of existing soil nutrition and expected yield.

Winner of a gold medal, the judges citation described the system as: "Being the first concrete use of a chain decision for intelligent fertilising in a precision agricultural system".

Gold also went to Fendt for a hydro-mechanical transmission fitted to the 926 Vario tractor which received its official UK launch at last years Smithfield show. Combining the advantages to be gained though the use of stepless hydrostatic transmission and mechanical drive, the Fendt system calls on the use of computer technology to ensure maximum efficiency is always attained.

Although not yet officially announced, Fendt is also reported to have plans to incorporate the new transmission in a range of tractors in the near future, that is unless its recent acquisition by AGCO involves any policy changes.

Renault comes in with a silver for a tractor hydraulic linkage designed to improve efficiency and the lot of the operator. A combination of information gleaned from sensors on linkage arms, wheel-slip sensors and implement working depth helps to maintain maximum traction and performance.

Blemishes detected

Perhaps not so much in the full gaze of true machinery buffs is a gold winning development from Maf Roda. The companys Laser 3600 is designed to detect blemishes in fruit and vegetables as they pass along a conveyor.

High speed detection and sorting is claimed – 20 a second – with different grades being automatically deflected to designated packing points.

On the silver medal front Berthoud picks up an award for its twin turbine centrifugal pump. The judges recognised that the use of wide booms, higher operating speeds and larger spray tanks required a pump with greater capacity than conventional piston or diaphragm designs.

The Berthoud pump, as its name implies, comprises two parts. One is used for high speed filling and agitation, the other for actual spray application.

Still with sprayers, Tecnomas pneumatic Axair suspension system comes in for a silver medal award. Fitted to the companys self-propelled machine, individual pneumatic cushions on each axle are fed by a compressor. An automatic control adjusts air pressure in respect of weight carried to create active suspension. The judges were keen to point out the relative cheapness of the system making it available for a wide range of users.

Not to be left out on the medal stakes is Claas, which has been presented with silver for its electronic box of tricks incorporated in the Lexion combines.

The system can be used to set up the combine for any given crop in terms of drum speed, concave gap, air speed and so on. In addition, all main combine functions are monitored, as is the machines performance.

Compatible with GPS, the combines electronics can also be used as part of a precision farming system.

And it was not just the arable sector which harvested the medals cache. Recent developments in the mechanisation of livestock operations also attracted the judges attention.

From Dissau Distribution a dust-free system of spreading shavings or shredded or chopped straw to create bedding for poultry or pigs won a silver medal.

A 3.5 or 6cu m hopper is filled with chopped material – an integral scoop picks a hopper-full in one go – and closed before being pressurised with air. The material is then spread via the simple expedience of a hose pipe being pointed in the required direction.

The judges noted it was possible to add disinfectant and anti-fungicide products as the material is spread. &#42

Fendts stepless hydrostatic/mechanical transmission, fitted to the recently launched 260hp Vario 926 tractor, picks up a SIMA gold.

Claas Lexion combines can be equipped with electronics to monitor functions, performance and set up the machine for individual crops.

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