The new CLAAS LEXION second generation range is taking the global combine harvester market by storm.
As 220 pre-production LEXION models continue to work their way around the globe, Simon Henley visits farming enterprise AWT Farm Services, Cambridgeshire, to find out more about the team’s experience with the range-topping LEXION 8900, and discovers how the new generation compares to their existing LEXION combines.
CLAAS introduced the LEXION combine harvester in 1997 and today it is recognised globally as one of the world’s most enduring high-capacity harvester ranges.
Its success can arguably be attributed to the continual development of the combines, however credit must also be given to the development of new operating system technologies, of which CLAAS has been a leading pioneer.
The new second-generation CLAAS LEXION, designated the Thousand Series, extends the LEXION range to seven models, including three wide-body and four standard body versions.
Suitable for harvesting up to 1,800 hectares using a single combine, the new models include the range-topping 790hp LEXION 8900 (wide-body) and 549hp LEXION 7700 (standard body).
Internally, the new CLAAS APS SYNFLOW primary threshing system features a 57% larger (600mm) impeller and a 26% larger (755mm) threshing drum.
The number of rasp bars on the drum has been increased to 10, while the concave has been redesigned with new interchangeable segments allowing up to 40% of them to be easily removed.
CLAAS UK combine harvester specialist Adam Hayward says: “Customers increasingly want combines which are suitable for harvesting specialist crops, including herbage and grass seeds. “The pivoting concave bar, which can be adjusted from the cab, gives greater control of the threshing system, which suits a wider range of crops.”
One such customer is A.W.T. Farm Services, which has relied on CLAAS LEXION combines for 20 years. Until now they have relied on two LEXION models – a 780 and a 760 – to harvest the 2,000 hectares of mixed combinable crops they grow in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
However, the arrival of a pre-production LEXION 8900 this harvest has given the company the confidence to reconsider returning to a single machine.
“Virtually everything has grown on this new machine,” reports business partner Andrew Tetlow.
“Virtually everything has grown on this new machine”
“This includes the drum, con- caves, sieves, augers and, of course, the engine. With 790hp it’s certainly not short on power and we’ve seen a really substantial increase in output.
It’s at the point where I think we could realistically drop the 760 for next harvest and run one big one on its own.”
Crop flow has been improved with a neater flow line through the combine. Residual grain separation is handled by twin rotors which operate at higher speed and feature a new rotor grate design.
By positioning the rotors at a shallower angle, the new grates have increased the threshing area and are less aggressive on straw, which improves straw quality for baling.
“It’s great having additional capacity, but a high-output combine has got to be capable of producing a decent sample as well.
This pre-production 8900 has taken us completely by surprise. It’s not only chomping through a huge amount more crop in an hour, but the grain is significantly cleaner than before.”
Integrated into the driver’s seat is a new armrest control console with a CMOTION control lever.
Quick-access keys along the side of the armrest are provided for operators who prefer not to use the LEXION turn-dial switch or the CEBIS touch-screen to set up and control the combine.
Separately mounted, the CLAAS CEBIS screen introduces new software with logic specific to the LEXION range. This includes the new CEBIS-Touch display which uses a visual silhouette of the combine for instant identification of the harvester’s operating functions.
CLAAS has also introduced an improved CEMOS combine automation system. There are now three grades of CEMOS, starting with an elementary Q&A version.
A second version is CEMOS AUTOMATIC, or CEMOS in CEBIS, which is a fully automatic version integrated into the CEBIS touch-screen monitor. With CEMOS AUTOMATIC, the operator tells the combine what crop it is harvesting, the condition of the straw and whether the crop is laying or standing.
From this point on, at the press of the autosteer button, CEMOS automatically monitors the combine’s functions and controls its forward speed based on the quality of grain sample it is producing.
Operator Ben Latham says: “The whole new touch-screen CEBIS set-up is a real leap forward. The menus are easier to follow and can be quickly accessed. I just hit the relevant part of the combine graphic on the screen and the settings menu for that function pops up.
“The new CEMOS AUTOMATIC is really getting it right. It can adapt to changes in crop conditions so much faster than any operator. I have found it is just a case of inputting the crop type and then letting the combine sort itself out.
“The system is constantly adjusting itself to see what it can do better and the result is quite startling.
It is really noticeable when a trailer takes one load off the 760 and another off the 8900. The difference in the sample is like night and day.
“You cannot achieve greater output or a better sample without using the CEMOS AUTOMATIC settings. It is a true ‘set-and-forget’ system, which leaves me to concentrate on what’s coming up, whether it’s laid crop, badger setts or lunch time.”
His employer agrees. “CLAAS has consistently produced the highest capacity machines on the market and the new 8900 takes them ahead of the game once again,” concludes Andrew Tetlow.
“We need the capacity to get over our acreage and to achieve our ultimate cost-saving goal of running one combine. The new LEXION 8900 looks like this might be possible.”
FOR the new range-topping 8900 model, there is the option of an 18,000-litre grain tank. This replaces the standard 15,000- litre tank, increasing the capacity of the tank to about 14.4 tonnes of wheat (at 800g/litre).
A new unloading auger design provides an unloading capacity of 180 litres per second and folds out to 103-degrees for improved visibility from the cab.
Ben Latham says: “With twin augers in the bottom of the tank and a much bigger spout, the new combine takes just over a minute to empty its 15,000-litre hopper. It’s quite phenomenal.
“The new driveline is much quieter and being able to switch between unloading at 180 litres/ second and 90 litres by shutting down one auger at a flick of a switch is just brilliant.
“I tend to run it flat out to begin with and then top off the trailer at half speed. That way you take the pressure off the tractor drivers and avoid any spillages, while ensuring they are always getting a full load.
“With such huge quantities of grain pouring out the spout it is important to make sure you’re hitting the target. “Now the auger swings even further forward, you’re not craning your neck to see it and can keep an eye on what the header’s doing at the same time,” adds Mr Latham.