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LAMMA 2019

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CropTec Show 2017: Efficiency enhancing technology takes centre stage

Featuring everything from farm management software to self-propelled sprayers, this year’s CropTec Show saw a growing number of visitors keen to make use of on-farm technology. Richard Bradley reports.


Richard   Bradley

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Richard   Bradley
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UK signal provider RTK Farming announced it is now the distributor for Naio Technologies’ mechanical weeding robots.

 

The French manufacturer offers a range of robot sizes, with this Oz model being the smallest, up to Dino models which feature a 2m working width.

 

Despite the raft of technology on board the Oz, RTK says it has been designed with simplicity in mind, and offers an eight-hour working cycle when using its inter-row hoe at its 4kph top speed. While currently only hoe implements have been developed, the Oz can tow up to 300kg on its 50mm ball hitch, and carry up to 80kg on its body.

 

RTK correction signals can be used to guide the robot onto the crop rows, with front-mounted sensors then looking after its down-the-row steering.

 

To cover the area, RTK Farming says veg growers of the future may be running a fleet of small weeding robots, such as Oz and Dino.

 

Price for the Oz is about £25,000, with larger Dino models costing about £100,000.


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Heavy-duty DJI drone

Heavy-duty DJI drone

Agricultural drone firm DroneAg was showcasing the latest offering from DJI at the event, in the form of its M200 Agri Pro.

 

Designed to be a more rugged machine with a wider working window, the M200 is ingress protection rated for dust and weather, and can fly in winds up to 30mph.

 

Mounted under its body is a multispectral SlantRange sensor to measures nutrients, weeds and disease in crops, along with a high resolution camera. According to the firm, its on-board processing software now allows nutrient maps to be created as it is scanning the field, which previously required a computer or laptop.

 

Its on-board battery offers up to 30 minute flight times, with working rates of up to 2ha/min when nutrient mapping. This is reduced when scanning for weeds and disease, according to the firm.

 

Retail price for the four-rotor drone is £8,500, which includes training. Due to its price and the area it can cover, the firm says it is likely to suit larger farms, agronomists and trial companies.

Hydrogen powered drone

Hydrogen powered drone

Cambridge-based drone mapping services firm Agrivue showcased its latest machine at the event.

 

Currently using small battery-powered drones to offer field mapping to farmers, the firm was not happy with short flight times, having to carry up to 20 batteries to do a day’s work. To remedy this, they have sourced a hydrogen-powered machine from MNC Drones, China, which Agrivue is now the UK distributor for.

 

With a nine-litre tank on its back, the drone is capable of flight times of up to three hours, with a tank re-fill taking about 30 minutes. Crop scanning for blackgrass population, compaction and nutrient mapping is carried out by a multi wavelength Micra Sense sensor, with a high definition camera also featured.

 

As well as selling into agriculture, the firm hopes to sell the unit into public sectors with thermal sensors for search and rescue situations.

 

While the firm says it is unlikely a farmer will need the capacity of the hydrogen powered unit, retail price is expected about £80,000.

TractAir and Michelin

TractAir and Michelin

Following Michelin’s recent acquisition of German central tyre inflation systems (CTIS) specialist PTG, the firm’s UK importer TractAir setup its stand next to Michelin’s tyre plot at the event.

 

While the UK importer says it is unlikely we will see Michelin branded CTIS, it does mean the firms will be working much closer when dealing with prospective customers.

 

CTIS is a product which, according to Michelin, is needed to get the full benefit from the firm’s latest generation of tyres, such as its 2-in-1 EvoBib. By using an adjustable footprint, Michelin says the EvoBib offers reduce wear on the road while allowing a larger footprint in the field as pressures are lowered.

 

Launched at Agritechnica, TractAir was also talking about its second-generation CTIS, which is said to be more user friendly and uses an electrical connection to monitor the pressure inside each tyre. Unlike the current air sensing system, as pictured, which only takes a pressure reading when raising or lowering tyre pressures, the electrical-system constantly monitors the pressure and adjusts accordingly to maintain required values.

 

The CTIS Hybrid system will be available next year, and TractAir will have models on show at Lamma in January.

Cab comfort from Chafer

Cab comfort from Chafer

After launching its self-propelled Defender and larger Interceptor sprayers last year with Fritzmeier cabs, Chafer has now sourced cabs from New Holland.

 

Taken from the firm’s FR forager, the new cab will be fitted to all new self-propelled sprayers form the British firm, who says the New Holland cab was always at the top of its list. Chafer’s marketing manager Joe Allen adds: “As machinery purchases have shifted more towards operator focused buys, providing the best environment for them is a necessity."

 

Inside the cab, New Holland’s SideWinder armrest remains, with alterations to suit the sprayer’s functions. Filling, agitation, cleaning and boom control is all via Chafer’s own colour touch screen controller. A separate IsoBus screen is used to look after variable rate, section control and auto steering systems.

 

Along with advances in comfort, the manufacturer says the cab also offers improved lighting options.

Kverneland control developments

Kverneland control developments

While KV’s latest top of the range touch screen IsoBus terminal, the Tellus Pro, may look remarkably similar to its now mid-range Tellus screen, the firm says the similarities end there.

 

Underneath its skin, the Pro features a higher definition screen and much more powerful processors to speed up the terminal’s performance, allowing it to run more functions without potential issues of crashing. This suits KV’s raft of IsoBus controlled implements with features such as variable rate and section control, boom contour on sprayers, or GeoControl. The Pro is also capable of mulit-tasking, allowing an auto steering system to be run at the same time, which the firm now offers as a retro-fit package.

 

Alongside its smaller TellusGo screen, KV was also showcasing its IsoMatch joystick. Featuring 11 assignable buttons and four switchable setup pages, up to 44 machine functions can be programmed to the joystick, with setup via any KV or competitor IsoBus terminal.

 

Tellus Pro terminals have a retail price of £3,700, and the IsoMatch joystick costs £833.

Trailed sprayer updates

Trailed sprayer updates

Also on the Chafer stand was its latest Sentry trailed sprayer, which benefits from a number of updates for the 2018 season.

 

Top spec E models, which boast touch screen control of sprayer functions, now feature full CanBus control of all valves. According to Chafer this allows each valve to return warnings if they fail providing assurance to the operator

At the discharge end, a new mast design has been used which allows the boom to run as low to the ground as 20cm, hydraulic plumbing to accumulators has also been tweaked to allow quicker boom control movements.

 

The final alteration is the use of a gyroscope sensor in the drawbar to control the sprayer’s steering axle. Unlike previous potentiometer system, the does not require a connection to the tractor making for simplified hooking up, and Chafer says it reduces the chance of damaging the sensor.

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