As the Kverneland Group’s recent product launches and previews show, it really seems the company is on a development charge at the moment. James Rickard reports.
Strip-till technology, non-stop round baling, a self propelled sprayer, an intelligent plough, section control for spreaders; it seems there is no end to the Kverneland Group’s rate of development at the moment.
Three years of ownership by Kubota have certainly helped the cause as the Japanese manufacturer’s influence has been felt right across the group. Joe Bell, managing director, Kverneland UK says; “The backing by Kubota has seen manufacturing techniques altered to achieve higher efficiency and quality, R and D programmes have been accelerated and new manufacturing facilities have allowed projects to come to fruition.”
Not least of which is the development of the FastBale, a non-stop round baler as recently reported on by FGInsight.
In addition, a recent event by the Kverneland Group previewed more development highlights (see panels) as the firm gears up for Agritechnica in November.
As IsoBus systems continue to develop, so to do the possibilities of how to control machinery. And the latest Kverneland 2500 series iPlough is no exception.
Available from four to six furrows, IsoBus control allows almost complete set-up of the plough from the tractor seat. In addition, its vari-width function can be automated via the use of GPS, essentially enabling the plough to steer itself to maintain a straight furrow. While on-land ploughing can achieve this through automatic tractor steering, in-furrow ploughing means the tractor’s direction is at the mercy of the last furrow and powerless to intervene when a furrow wants straitening up. While this could be achieved manually, the iPlough now takes care of itself.
The plough can be operated in four main modes; transport, work, park and mark. Switching between the modes, sees the plough configure itself automatically, reducing time and increasing convenience, says the manufacturer. In transport mode, a hydraulically split headstock design allows the plough to be towed like a semi-mounted machine. With it you get 35 degrees of steering angle. During set-up, tractor dimensions can be inputted with front furrow width automatically worked out.
As well as software, pretty much all of the plough is brand new, save for the mouldboard design. A new, rounded profile leg design help with trash flow and reduce were, while a new centralised skimmer adjustment system sees skimmer set-up time slashed in half.
It can be specified with shearbolt protection or a new ‘teardrop-shaped’ leaf spring design affords auto-reset. There is 800mm of underbeam clearance and the firm’s 600mm diameter Packomat furrow press can be specified.
A novel optional alternative to the standard depth wheel is a track unit which is compact enough to fit under the beam when ploughing and therefore does not stick out the side, allowing you to get closer to edges of fields, etc.
Full availability is a while off yet, but it should be available in limited numbers next year as a top-sepc machine only.
Completing the Kverneland Group’s sprayer range, available in the UK under the Vicon brand, one of the headline grabbers at the event was the announcement that the manufacturer was to re-enter the self propelled sprayer market.
Available with either a 4,000 or 5,000 litre tank, aluminium booms up to 30m or steel booms up to 40m, the iXdrive is largely based on a Mazzotti skid unit, built in Ravena, Italy.
Using tried and tested components, the powertrain includes a 240hp Perkins engine, Sauer Danfoss hydraulic pump and Poclain wheel motors. Upfront, the operator gets Claas’ Vista pressurised level four cab while Mazzotti’s own chassis design incorporates Vicon sprayer technology including a central filling station, automated filling and cleaning cycles and boom design.
All sprayer functions are controlled via Vicon’s Tellus Terminal offering section control up to 15 sections on any size of boom. Air operated nozzles and constant circulated spray lines are a feature, enabling quick reaction times, says the manufacturer.
Three height clearance variants of the sprayer are available; 1.3m, 1.5m and 1.7m – all stay under a 4m transport height. Hydraulic track width adjustment is also available offering 1.8-2.25m adjustment on the 1.3m high machine and 2.25-2.95m of adjustment on the 1.5m and 1.7m high machines.
Four-, two-wheel or crab steering modes can be selected and also automated by incorporating them into a headland management sequence. For instance, two wheel steer could be used while spraying to aid stability, then four-wheel steer engaged for the headlands.
Individual wheel motors offer 20kph field speeds and up to 40kph road speeds. Each wheel is also braked. Both axles feature hydraulic suspension with the rear axle able to oscillate, helping smooth out the ride for the boom.
Boom suspension comprises a parallelogram linkage with nitrogen accumulators and a central boom balancing system with dampers.
Making high specification technology more accessible to small and medium sized farms, Kverneland has filtered its GEOspread section control system down through its fertiliser spreader range.
Now available on its medium spreaders with hopper capacities from 1,100-2,450 litres, the technology allows automatic section control of up to 14 sections, each two meters wide. Designed to reduce overlaps and misses, especially when working into wedges, the manufacturer says customers are regularly seeing fertiliser savings of five to 10 per cent.
In addition to savings, the firm says the operator’s workload is reduced. Using GPS signals, the spreader can determine which parts of the field have already been covered and then use the spreader’s dosing mechanisms to automatically manipulate spread pattern and rate.
Slotting in between its larger twin rotor rakes and its flagship four rotor rake, the manufacturer has developed a 12.5m working width machine.
Designed with simple operation in-mind, the rake employs four rotors, each armed with 12 tine arms. Working width can be adjusted from 10m to 12.5m and features a transport height under four meters with all tine arms in-place.
Control has been kept simple via the use of a single spool and an electric pre- selector diverter switch to flick between the rakes functions. a timed delay can also be set from when the two front rotors lift up to when the two rear rotors lift up, and vice versa.
Rotor height adjustment is via a crank handle on each rotor and rotor bogie wheels are positioned as close as possible to the tines for more accurate ground contour following.
Vicon has upgraded the performance of its BW2100C and BW2600C turntable bale wrappers with the introduction of twin film dispensers and the addition of a clever new system to optimise turntable rotation speed.
While twin film dispensers give an obvious performance advantage, Vicon’s engineers have gone a step further. Maximum wrapping speed on a turntable wrapper is limited by the stability of the bale rotating on the wrapping table. This is directly related to bale quality, but can also be influenced by other factors such as working on slopes or in particularly rough ground conditions.
Rotation speed is therefore generally governed by the judgement of the operator, says the manufacturer, with the possibility of anything up to one tonne of silage bale spinning off the wrapper.
To combat this, the firm’s new OptiSpeed system allows wrapping at higher bale rotation speeds by constantly monitoring the stability of the turntable via an accelerometer mounted on the chassis of the wrapper. Bale rotation speed is increased automatically, while the system monitors for any increase in loading, which indicates if the bale is becoming unstable. If instability is detected, the system automatically reduces the speed to a safe level.
Apart from the pto, Kverneland claims its latest 7.6, working width mounted tedder requires no maintenance.
Featuring six rotors with seven tines per rotor, it gets a heavy-duty headstock and box frame design, into which all main drive shafts are housed. Zero maintenance to these shafts and universal joints has been achieved through the use of sealed bearings.
In addition, the use of finger couplings for the outer two pivot joints allow the tedder to folded compactly, achieving a parking height of 3.45m.
To keep weight and vibration down, aluminium guard rails are now used instead of steel.