The annual CropTec show at Peterborough provided farmers the opportunity to see some of the latest technology at the knowledge sharing event.
Alex Heath reports...
Sulky took the opportunity to launch a brand-new fertiliser spreader at the show.
Designed to fill a gap in its product portfolio, the DX30+Eco#6 is aimed at growers who wish to increase the accuracy of product application, but on a smaller scale than the company previously offered.
Spreader capacity is 1,500 to 3,000 litres with spreading widths from 18 to 36 metres. The company says the machine offers a high specification at a low cost, comparative to its own machines and competitors.
Featured on its larger models, Sulky claim its crescent pattern shut off as fitted to its new machine is unique to the market, rather than the straight line shut off typically used.
Using six sections, the spreader automatically shuts off individual sections when approaching headlands, by moving the drop point of the fertiliser on the disc.
The system uses the firm’s Matrix 570 GPS console, as already fitted to its DX series, to automatically control shutters.
The system can be configured to follow variable rate maps, with the lowest application being 40kg/ha.
The system can be with or without IsoBus, but to run variable rates the tractor needs IsoBus capabilities.
The company claims savings of 8-10 per cent in fertiliser usage, from over application with the added benefit of more even crops.
Savings will vary depending on field shape, with jagged edge fields showing the biggest savings. Available now, the company says on farm prices are from £13,000.
Field robotics specialists the Small Robot Company was officially launched only 12 months ago.
In the time since the start up company’s launch, the team has been busy designing and developing hardware and software, revolving around its three robots Tom, Dick and Harry and its artificial intelligence, cloud-based system Wilma.
The show marked the first public showing of its robot Harry, a digital planter. In field mode a hopper with enough seed for approximately two hectares is installed. The robot punches the seed into the ground, marking on a digital map the location of every seed it has planted.
Much of the company’s philosophy revolves around pinning all field details on a virtual map, enabling the other robots to carry out their individual tasks.
This includes Dick which is responsible for crop care. Still under development, its focus at the moment is weed control, either through spot chemical spraying, mechanical or electrical control.
The developers say that disease identification is also under development.
The main data gathering robot goes by the name of Tom. Working in metre wide strips, it travels the field taking high definition photos 30cm in front, which are sent to the cloud, where Wilma processes and analyses the photos.
The database now contains thousands of images of weeds, from all corners of the UK, that have been verified by agronomists.
Funding for this project has come from crowd funding campaigns and a number of farmers around the UK, whose land is also used for research. The company reckons Harry will be working within the next 18 months.
Kuhn used the show to officially launch its latest development in precision product application, namely the Axmat Plus system fitted to its Axis 50.2 and 40.2 fertiliser spreaders.
Featuring 27 radar sensors per disc arranged in a horseshoe shape, the system actively monitors the spread pattern of the fertiliser, controlling changes to optimise the pattern.
The company says the system will tell the operator the quality of the fertiliser being spread, and removes the variable of different qualities.
According to the company, the system helps to get the best pattern for fertiliser that is of marginal quality, by continuously moving the drop point onto the disc.
Fast activating actuators adjust the drop point on each disc individually, every four seconds. The company also says the system reduces the need to manually test spreader accuracy.
The system can be run in conjunction with the manufacturer’s VariSpread control, for variable rate application. Availability of the Axmat system is said to be early 2019.
Standen Target Set Technology was showcasing its Side Ridge injection system for liquid application in growing potato crops.
Winners of the overall best innovation at Lamma 2016, the company has teamed up with Ecospray to develop a liquid biological nematicide that can be applied to the growing crop.
Already marketed in the EU southern zone, the active ingredient for the product is based on garlic extract, similar to Nemguard SC.
The system is made up of a hood with the injector protruding from the hood into the potato ridge. At present there are seven models from two row to eight row working widths, with variations to fit different widths of bed.
The company says the advantages of this system include putting fertiliser closer to the roots, and thus a reduction as there is no wastage from product going between the ridges.
In addition, the benefit of applying the liquid biological nematicide in this way is two fold according to the company.
Firstly it can be used in organic systems and secondly the product can be applied at a later date, when soils are warmer and consequently nematode activity is higher.
Mechanical weeding can also be carried out with a few additions to the machine. Prices start at £20,000 for a single bed machine with front tank, or £38,000 for a triple bed machine with tank.
Giving growers an opportunity to test drive its Interceptor sprayer, Chafer said CropTec was a good opportunity to get operators in the seat of its new self-propelled machine.
Now featuring 242hp, the engine is mated to a Bosch Rexroth continuously variable transmission. The biggest change on previous models seen, is the addition of the New Holland cab, as used on its FR forage harvesters.
This has been revamped with Chafer offering several options for operator comfort, such as an air conditioned, air suspended seat.
The Interceptor is available with 4,000 or 5,000 litre tanks and booms up to 36 metres.
The company also confirmed a build date for its smaller and simpler Defender model, which will commence in March 2019. The Defender will feature the same cab as its bigger brother, but with tank sizes of 3,000 and 3,500 litres and booms up to 30metres.
While its gargantuan 13.5 metre wide Eco XL drill was not present at the show, Dale Drills was extolling the virtues of its direct drill launched earlier this year.
Designed with a new tine and coulter assembly, the firm says the drill needs as little as 25hp per metre. Its narrow 12.5mm tine and 1,550mm tine spacing cause little disturbance to the soil and allow for good trash flow it says.
When drilling direct into cover crops, a leading disc in front of the tine can be fitted.
A new coulter allows for seed to be sown in 100mm bands, with the option of fertiliser being put down at the same time, 20mm below the seed. Liquid fertiliser application is also an option. The grain tank is split 50:50 to allow for fertiliser, with two Accord metering units used.
The company says the Eco XL drill will fit into controlled traffic farming practices with its working widths from eight metres to 13.5 metres, thought to be the widest drill currently available in the UK.