17 November 2000


Arriving outside the modern glass edifice of Earls Court 2,

farm machinery enthusiasts catch a tempting first glimpse

of the colourful high-tech exhibits inside. Peter Hill

takes a virtual tour of this years stands, picking out the

newest of the new products on show.

ENTER the first Royal Smithfield Show of the new millennium through the Earls Court 2 exhibition hall and it is impossible not to be impressed by the vast clear span structure.

But enthusiasts for the latest in high-tech farm machinery will not stand there gawping for long. There are new tractors to sit in; new seed drills to peer into; freshly minted cultivators to imagine tilling next autumns seed beds.

Depending on existing brand loyalties, the first port of call will be AGCO (stand 260) or John Deere (201). Both companies have newly located stands flanking the EC2 entrance.

Wide awake after the journey to London? Then turn left to get to grips with the Deeres new AutoPowr tractors, the first to use ZFs Eccom hydro-mechanical transmission. Replacing the usual semi-powershift, AutoPowr is an infinitely variable drive giving speed progression without changing gears, and a number of programmable features.

For comparison with other cvt tractors, seek out the Case-IH CVX and the Fendt Vario models.

Also among the green and yellow exhibits will be the new telehandlers and a new line-up of high capacity trailed sprayers from 2400 to 4000 litres, with high-speed axles and suspension, new booms and GPS compatibility.

AGCO (260) has a number of key Massey Ferguson developments, including front axle suspension for 8200-series and larger 6200-series models; a new line of narrow tractors; and the first quad ATVs from a major tractor maker.

MFs QuadLink uses a new axle and suspension design, with self-adjusting ride height. It can be isolated if suspension movement is inappropriate for the task.

Otherwise, the benefits are the same as for other front axle suspension, namely improved ride quality, greater stability at speed, and some improvement in traction in some situations.

The MF3300 tractor line goes from 54hp to 93hp courtesy of Perkins and is the result of a new development and manufacturing agreement with Same Deutz-Fahr.

While visiting, take a peek under the straw hood of the MF7278 Cereon combine and count up the eight straw walkers designed for more aggressive separation of grain.

Across the way, Same Deutz-Fahr (261) has a 165hp addition to the Deutz-Fahr Agrotron range. Built to latest MkIII specification, it has uprated and more sophisticated hydraulics as well as more power than the 160 predecessor.

Slip across to the Renault (244) stand where Temis, Atles and latest Ares models will be on show then go for a look at the new Nova sprayer control system from Hardi (207). Apart from being CAN-BUS based and compatible with AGCO Fieldstar and Claas ACT systems, Nova includes a control panel that can be strapped to the seat arm rest to keep spray on-off and other boom controls close to hand.

The new Steiger STX articulated tractor makes its Smithfield debut at Case-IH (216), along with the Cross-Flow CF80 combine harvester, a straw walker model to complement the long-established Axial-Flow.

Slip off the far corner to grain handling and drying developments on the joint stand of Alvan Blanch and Perry of Oakley (218), which include improved Cascade and Perry-Allmet continuous flow driers, and elevator safety and monitoring systems designed to guard against dust explosions, from Perry.

An improved 2600 Tracker trailed sprayer features on the Allman (224) stand, incorporating a heavy duty dual-fold 12/24m boom which can have twin spray lines for rate versatility or to accommodate pesticides and liquid fertilisers.

From here it is a short step into the potato equipment area of the EC2 hall, where good relations with neighbouring stand-holders will enable E W Downs (255) to squeeze in a 14.7m long mobile hopper with cleaning, grading and inspection facilities; the stand itself is only 12.5m long!

The Labrador replaces the Husky range, with a flat tail intake on the hopper, swan-neck top section and a Pearson Galaxy star roller cleaning unit. A screen sizer with, says Downs, unique crop agitation and dislodger is followed by inspection tables with full-length lanes for trash and rejects.

Next door, Grimme (227) will feature its own potato handling equipment for the first time – using hydraulic instead of mechanical drives for speed versatility and low wear and tear – as well as the high-capacity GBS 1700 harvester with twin cleaning systems.

Hop off the end of the Grimme stand to visit compatriots Kverneland (232) and Vicon (233) – which jointly have the largest exhibit at Smithfield. A new seven-furrow plough for tractors up to 300hp and in-furrow or on-land working features on the former, while new-generation round balers will gather attention among the Vicon machines.

Head across the hall to see a new Irrifrance hose reel from Javelin (287), and on to Amazone (294) where the Variant disc mulch drill and latest fertiliser spreaders – featuring more stainless steel than before – will be on show.

Danagri 3S (292) hopes to have new mobile continuous flow driers represented, while a little further along the way, Dowdeswell (278) has a whole raft of new kit to add to the new ploughs and cultivators introduced earlier this year.

Among them are the first seed drills to appear in the companys own livery.

There are distinct models for mulch and conventional seeding – the former in 6m and 8m sizes, using twin or band sowing tine coulters designed to cope with lots of trash.

The 190 series six- to eight-furrow semi-mounted plough, a lighter power harrow (but still to heavy duty spec), and a square bale wrapper complete Dowdes-wells show unveilings.

After that lot it is time for a coffee or beer and one of Earls Courts inimitable hot dogs before heading through the great divide into EC1 where the cattle lines add their own particular atmosphere to the exhibition.

Most visitors will head down to the prominent centre line stands, where RECO – Rustons Engineering (135) – have several newcomers to talk about. Tea and biscuits could well be on offer around the 14cu m Storti Dunker vertical diet mixer but the Sulky Magnum fertiliser spreader and a novel Fella mower-conditioner should also attract attention.

The Magnum comes in 2t to 3.2t sizes, spreads to 36m and can be equipped with electronic control, calibration and monitoring gear that gives speed-proportional output. The top model has a weighing system for auto calibration updates and GPS-guided application.

Next along, JCB Landpower (157) promises some Fastrac developments, as does New Holland (175) in respect of its higher horsepower tractors.

Head closer to the Warwick Road entrance and McConnel (634) will be keen to show off its latest high-speed flail hedge and verge mowers, as well as a 2.5m (8ft) offset topper.

Electronic sensors and fast-acting hydraulics help improve mowing speeds by improving head flotation on the Hy-Reach Power Arm models, which are themselves improved. Joystick control on these 5.61m to 6.51m maximum reach machines uses an optical interface – so there are no wires or electrical contacts to wear with use.

Claas (188) is keeping mum over the new products it will show in addition to the mind-boggling 605hp Jaguar 900 self-propelled forage harvester, unlike neighbour Valtra (177) which moves nearer centre-stage in EC1 to show off its S Series tractor.

This stylish newcomer will have 200hp, 230hp and 260hp engines, a ZF semi-powershift transmission and a colour display in the cab for monitoring, diagnostics and precision farming functions.

Aires pneumatic front axle suspension is being extended to Valtras four-cylinder models, while two four-cylinder Mezzo models get a 5hp increase in power output to improve performance a tad.

Nip on to the neighbouring stand of Agri-Web (115) if potato harvesting is your bag and decide whether the companys rubber harvesting webs and grading screens might help reduce tuber bruising.

A short step takes in GHL Products (166) and its now Perkins-engined range of diesel quads, while Simba International (161) will have more new ideas in cultivations implements to explain.

The stylish-looking (and practical) M-class self-propelled sprayer will dominate the Sands (150) stand next door, while near neighbour Terrington Machinery (146) will debut its NDE vertical tub diet feeder, which is made in Britain to a US design.

Opposite Sands, Browns Agricultural (138) will have improved bale handlers on display as well as its own version of the ground-hugging Maxiscrape tractor slurry scraper.

After a quick look over the crowds watching the stock judging, its across into the east wing where Smithfield stalwart J B Edlington (108) will squeeze in its latest tillage gear.

The Press-A-Roll brings together rigid tines, heavy weight cast press rings and lighter roller rings to cultivate ploughed land, and with space between the two rolling elements for a seed box to be added.

Further towards the Brompton Road entrance, Farm-Force Engineering (226) has its own latest-generation combination tool, which features a heavy-weight 700mm diameter toothed roll behind tines and cast press rings.

Riding the nearby escalator to Level 2 gives a chance to see a new range of home-built diesel quads from Northern Ireland manufacturer UK ATVs (360).

Around the corner, on the other side of the balcony, Cleanacres (461) will have its latest Airtec twin fluid spraying system controller on display. Stock farmers will want to check out the new Vulcan galvanised fencing material from Tinsley Wire (506), which is said to be more pliable and therefore easier to erect. &#42

Continental AC 85 tyres offer farmers greater resistance to wear and tear.

Valtras Aires suspension is an active air system designed to operate in extremes of temperature and terrain.

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