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Irish Ploughing Championships 2016: Irish innovation at its best

Known in Ireland as the farmer’s holiday, the Irish Ploughing Match is also a mecca for the nation’s farm machinery manufacturers, with many of them using the event as a launch pad for new kit. James Rickard and Richard Bradley check out the latest developments.

Lead Pic

Irish Ploughing Match showcases 'innovative' thinking.

Rack ‘em and stack ‘em

Able to collect, carry and stack wrapped round bales of silage, the Eurotec Design bale chaser is the brainchild of Kilkenny dairy farmer Tom Carrigan.


The all hydraulically operated machine can handle 16 bales of 1.2m in diameter, or thereabouts, with the primary aim to cut down on men and machinery involved in the process of handling wrapped round bales of silage.


Bales are loaded via a swing out squeezer arm, with bales positioned on the trailer two high, two wide and four long. All this is currently controlled manually via a ‘box’ in the cab, powered by load-sensing hydraulics. However, the firm is looking to automate this for easier and less tiring operation.


Once back to the yard, the machine can unload the bales in groups of eight, two high, with bales placed on their ends. Work rates are claimed to be in the region of 50 bales per hour, with approximately quarter of a mile carting distance.


Currently in prototype form, its creator is looking to seek a production partner to mass build the machines. Availability is earmarked for next season.

Wilting wonder

Famed for its range of crop conditioning machines, Roscommon firm Acres has further developed the concept to create a three-in-one machine which rakes, conditions and teds.


Primarily designed to be used with silage or haylage, the creation can also be used with straw. When producing silage, the manufacturer is a big advocate of drying crops in a swath. Following a mower which spreads the grass to wilt, the 6.2m working-with machine can then be used to rake and condition the grass, leaving a fluffy swath for air to penetrate. If necessary, a pair of tedding rotors can be hydraulically lowered into place, allowing you to re-spread the grass.


The firm is also working on an IsoBus-compatible software package which will allow moisture content to be monitored and recorded. All in the name of producing better quality silage, the data can then be used to produce a report for the baler man with instructions to start in the driest part of the field and leave the wetter crop to the end.


The machine will be available in limited numbers next year with a retail price of £25,000 (29,000 Euros). Its modular design also allows customers to spec the core conditioning unit with or without the swathing or tedding elements. Just the conditioning unit retails at £7,725 (9,000 Euros).

Trailed triple mower

Continuing to build on its range of grassland equipment, Hi-Spec has produced a trailed triple mower and front mower combination.


Developed in conjunction with County Tipperary contractor John Kennedy, responsible for the firm’s Kompactor push off trailer, the new Autocut mowing unit has been specifically designed to be used with smaller tractors. By pulling the weight rather than having to carry it, the firm says less bulky tractors can be used.


Featuring rear wheel steering, the rear mowers are able to follow the tractor’s path both on the road and in the field. The latter is said to avoid misses in the field when mowing corners.


Still under evaluation, three models have been built so far; two plain cut and one with nylon finger conditioner. When it goes into full production in another 12 months, two working widths will be available; 9.8m and 10.5m. The rear mowers fold backwards for transport, to a width of 2.6m.


For cutting, Comer mower beds are used. Both the front and rear mowers feature 500mm of suspension travel, with the ability to hydraulically adjust ground pressure following. Rather than using the tractor’s front linkage, the front mower uses its own independent lifting and suspension mechanism.


Prices are estimated to be about £47,200 (55,000 Euros) for the rear mowing unit and £12,000 (14,000 Euros) for the front mower.

Irish Ploughing Match facts

  • Launched originally as a pure ploughing match, the event is now celebrating its 85th championship
  • Its commercial attraction sees it host 1,620 exhibitors
  • It takes up a total area of 700 acres – 135 acres are dedicated to stands
  • There are 29 farms are involved
  • It is the biggest outdoor agricultural exhibition in Europe
  • Over its three days, 283,000 visitors attended the event

One pass bed preparation

Eliminating the need for multiple bed preparation operations for the likes of potatoes and carrots, for example, Rotospiral has produced a machine which can till and separate out stones.


Comprising a rotovator up front for tilling, this is married to what was once an ex potato harvester, which takes care of the soil and stone separation. Smaller stones are transferred along spiral rotors to the front of the machine, with the soil able to drop through the rotors on top of the stone. This places all the stone at the bottom of the bed.


Larger stones are spat out the rear of the machine into a hopper, which can be tipped at the headland or into a loader bucket. The machine can work to a depth of 45cm and is able to work in ploughed land or direct into the ground, eliminating the need for a ridger. About 160hp is required to power the machine. To ‘climb’ over the larger stones, the rotovator element is suspended in a floating frame. Driveline protection comes from a slip clutch.


Currently in prototype form, the machine will hopefully go into production alongside Rotospiral’s primary business of producing auger-based solutions.

Robot plough

Described by himself as one of the more crazy things he has invented, Carlow farmer, Johnny Couchman’s robot plough has been designed to work autonomously, with a strong emphasis on reducing compaction.


The three tonne, three-wheeled machine is fitted with a two furrow reversible plough which is centrally mounted on the machine. To further distribute weight more effectively, two of the machine’s wheels are located towards one side with the contraption’s engine and hydraulics placed in between. This ‘weight’ can then be moved forwards or backwards hydraulically, depending on the direction of work, providing traction.


At the headlands, instead of the plough turning over conventionally, it is completely swung over the top of the machine, ready to work in the other direction. This negates the need to plough the headlands conventionally, as the plough can get right up to the edges, by just ploughing up and down.


Drive to each wheel comes from a two-speed hydrostatic transmission. The wheels can also swivel through 90 degrees allowing the machine to move sideways at the headland. Once programmed, GPS is used to guide the machine, with infrared sensors used to detect objects and people.


With the potential for one man to control several machines, Mr Couchman says there are plenty of efficiency gains to be had.

New loader addition

Following on from the launch of its compact pivot steer and telehandler concepts at the Balmoral Show, Belfast, Northern Irish firm Blaney Motor Company launched a third loading concept at the event, a compact pivot steer telehandler.


Designated the TL1 10-33, it gets a maximum lift capacity of 1,200kg and can lift to a height of 3.3m. Said to be suitable to many sectors and industries, the three tonne machine is currently powered by a 40hp Yanmar engine and features a two-range hydrostatic transmission, able to propel the machine up to a top speed of 25kph. A modular rear-end allows various counterweights and/or tow bars to be attached.


The machine can be specified with ROPS frame, open cab frame or sealed cab. Full availability is next year with prices TBC.

Shear genius

Adding to its portfolio of shear grabs and materials handling attachments, Pro Dig has produced a range of three-in-one attachments comprising a bucket, sheargrab and bale splitter.


The aim is to eliminate the need to constantly swap attachments when carrying out several different loading operations – loading a diet feeder, for example. In addition, safety is also improved, says the manufacturer.


Three models are available with capacities of 1, 1.3 and 1.6cu.m. The smallest mode, weighing in at 500kg, is said to be suitable for loader tractors, while the two larger models are more of a match for telehandlers and small wheeled loaders.


Standard feature is a plastic retainer unit, which ‘holds’ onto bale wrap when you tip a bale. Starting retail price for the attachment is £3,390 (3,950 Euros).

Mow and grow

As well as a new name to represent the company’s forward looking vision, Future Grass Technology showed off several new updates and options to/for its range of GT zero grazing machines.


Firstly is the addition of a new model; the GT140 with a volume capacity of 28cu.m, which slips in just under its largest model to complete a four-model range.


More interestingly, the company has developed a fertilising kit option. Looking very much like a box seeder, the galvanised unit is positioned under the rear of the machine and allows fertilisr to be applied while harvesting grass. Seed rate is electrically controlled allowing the operator to adjust it. To fill the hopper, it slides out to the side.


Other new features include a sensor on the rear door which alerts the driver to when the machine is full, and a screw adjustment linkage now allows mowing pitch angle of its two drums to be altered, changing the cutting height.

Top topping

Adding to its range of Cyclone heavy duty topper/mowers, Major launched a new flagship 3.5m working width machine.


Hydraulically folding, the machine is said to be suitable for both heavy scrub and pastures, able to handle material and branches up to 120mm thick. Each of its five rotors gets two cutting blades and two shredding blades, along with a protective Hardox dish.


Working height can be adjusted via the rear roller and lower linkage pins ‘float’ for ground contour following. All panels feature a galvanised finish and everything is shaft and gear driven, with shearbolt driveline protection.


Available now, the 3.5m model retails at £11,500.

Trailers reintroduced

Recent years has seen Redrock focus on its range of tankers and diet feeding equipment, however, with an upsurge in the construction industry, the manufacturer is back making dump trailers and low loaders.


Its new four-model range features carrying capacities from 16 to 24 tonnes, all riding on commercially-rated tandem axles. Braking options include air or hydraulic, or both. Features include 10mm, heavy duty floors and a hydraulically powered rear door which folds flat with the floor. The latter allows piled up loads or bulky objects to be tipped easily, compared to a conventional swinging door which can prevent such loads from being tipped.


Available now, the range retails at a starting price from £11,000.


Its new low loaders are now split into two ranges; its entry level tandem axle models with lengths from 5.5 to 6.7m (18 to 22 feet) and able to handle up to 18 tonnes, and its high-spec tri-axle models with lengths from 7 to 9.1m (23 to 30 feet) which can handle 24 to 30 tonnes.


Both ranges get ‘beaver tails’ and are available with a choice of ramps. The smaller models start from £10,000 and the lagers models £17,000.

Plastic surgery for bales

Previously only available on the manufacturers Fusion 3 Plus combi baler, film on film bale binding has been added to its standalone F5600 fixed chamber round baler.


Launched at the event, the machine uses the same technology as in the Fusion 3 Plus balers and is aimed at farmers who cannot justify a Fusion but still want better quality silage and haylage bales with more wrap coverage, says the manufacturer.


The ability to still apply netting without making any changes gives the machine extra versatility. Available for 2017 season, prices are TBC.

Abbey mixes it with the big boys

Showing off its first triple-auger model, Abbey has extended its range of vertical auger diet feeders.


Supported by a full length chassis with six weigh points, currently only one triple auger model is available, the VF3350 with 33.5cu.m tub. However, the manufacturer says larger triple auger versions can be produced to order.


Tandem axles with passive rear steering come as standard, as does a two speed pto gearbox and the firm’s Digistar 3600 controller. A variety of door and elevator options are available, as are triple axles with forced steering.


The VF3350 is available now, prices starting from £65,000.

Malone shakes up its grassland portfolio

Two new tedders from the Malone will be coming to the UK for the 2017 season; the four rotor Tedd-Air 570 and six rotor Tedd-Air 840, with working widths of 5.7m and 8.4m respectively.


Working width is achieved with large diameter, seven tine arm rotors, with cranked tines. Both machines get hydraulic stabilisers with accumulators and adjustable headland spreading as standard.


The manufacturer says its ethos of building machines which are simple but strong is clear in the tedders, with universal joints at all articulation points and a heavy duty frame.

Farmer safety priority for OCE

The quick hitch from OCE is designed to improve operator safety when hitching and unhitching close mounted three-point linkage attachments.


Aimed at farmers and contractors operating on their own, the quick hitch removes the need for them to climb in-between the tractor and implement without safe attachment. The manufacturer claims the frame can be attached to 90 per cent of all Cat II attachments, and is certified to carry 2,500kg.


The frame uses two lower clevises with locking tabs, and one upper inverted clevis to clamp onto the lower link and top link pins of a machine. The upper clevis is lowered using one double acting spool and is secured in place with a ratchet mechanism to prevent accidental uncoupling.


To remove the implement, you pull a cord to unlatch the ratchet and the two lower clevises. Quick hitch is available now for £850.

Keenan extends life expectancy of mixers

Previously only featured on the manufacturer’s high capacity mixers, the 22cu.m Mech Fibre 360 now gets an oil bath to extend drive chain service life.


Labelled the Mech Fibre 365, the manufacturer claims the system extends chain life up to 90 per cent for users doing four to five mixes a day.


Main drive chain runs through a 60 litre oil bath, which then drips oil onto the paddle drive chain. A sight glass is fitted to show fill level, and weather seal and drip tray ensure water and debris does not find its way into the bath.


All greasing points have been moved to the front of the machine, with a simple indicator showing how often and how much grease is required.

The Mech Fibre 365 retails at £41,500 and is available now.


More interestingly, after an R and D cash injection from new owner Altech, a self-propelled diet feeder is on the horizon. Keenan says the machine is still in development but will feature patented technology. Expected to cost about £130,000, two units have already been sold, claims the manufacturer. More details can be expected early 2017.

Versatile machine from Cross

Following the recent popularity in winter cover crops, the Cross’ Ring Roller can now be specified with a Stocks seeder and a set of cultivating discs for added versatility.


Stocks’ AG i-Con Trubojet is equipped with eight outlets, which split to form a total of 16 outlets across the working width of the machine. Seed is then distributed via splash plates and metered using GPS.


For cultivation, two rows of 500mm diameter discs are used featuring hydraulic depth control, to work the ground before the manufacturer’s steel ring rollers press it back down.


Both the seeder and disc options can be fitted to the manufacturer’s existing rollers, with sizes from 6.2m to 12.5m.


A 6.2m roller with discs and seeder unit costs £28,000 - power requirement is 160hp.

Mastek focuses on simple designs

Bolting directly onto a slurry tanker, in place of the rear access door, is Mastek’s new, lightweight folding dribble bar.


Weighing in at 425kg, the manufacturer claims the 7.5m working width machine can easily be retrofitted to most tankers and can be done on-farm, as mounting plates are not required.


An integrated hydraulic macerator requires 50l/min oil flow - a solenoid valve allows boom folding to be taken care of by the same spool, which also prevents damaging the macerator by running it when not required.


In addition, three blanking plates and a stone trap are fitted behind the unit, so splash plate and rear fill points can still be used.


Price is the same for all rear door sizes at £9,050.

Emergency braking sets the standard for Lynch trailers

Famed for its trailers, Lynch’s new Hydra-Safe unit uses a hydraulic accumulator, so in the event of tractor and trailer parting ways, a valve attached to the trailer brake pipe releases the pressure from the accumulator into the brake lines, bringing the trailer to a stop. A gauge is used to show that adequate pressure is being stored.


Retro-fitting is possible with the plate and accumulator costing £360. Lynch is also looking at selling Hydra-Safe to other manufacturers.

Simple kit catches eye for New Rock

Safety is of paramount importance when working near slurry reception pits, according to New Rock’s Graham Smith, which is why it has produced a simple but effective method for holding slurry tanker pipes.


The fold out cradle sits on the edge of the pit and allows up to 150mm (six inch) pipe to be rested. Chance of kinking the pipe against the pit edge is reduced with its smooth 90degree angle, and unwanted spillage on the yard is also prevented.

Dip free sheep dipping

Designed to be operated by one person, sheep farmer Mark Kelly and Sons has created a portable enclosed ‘dipping’ system.


Mark Kelly says after attending shows across UK and Ireland, interest has come from farmers with 300 to 4,000 sheep. Rather than getting a contractor in to do all the sheep at once, the system can be set up quickly to work with smaller batches.


Up to eight ewes can fit inside the unit at once, and effective fleece penetration can be achieved in one minute via the machine’s internal 16 jets.


Existing races are compatible, says the manufacturer, as the purpose built plastic tank uses a ramp on entry and exit. Operating the single phase pump, which runs on a pre-set timer, and opening front/rear doors, is all done from one location.


Dip is stored beneath the machine’s floor - a minimum of 200 litres is required for optimum performance. Its pump produces two bars of pressure at 140l/min. Filters in the floor and pump help prevent nozzle blockages. A transport trailer is close to production to improve logistics.


Mark Kelly says they are in talks with potential UK distributors; but for now units are available for £5,000.

Hi-Spec make most of trailer chassis

Making the most of one chassis and running gear, Hi-Spec has created de-mountable versions of its tankers, Kompactor push off trailers and flatbed trailers.


Three sizes are available between 6-7.3m (20-24 feet). Standard features across the range include commercial axles with 650mm-wide tyres, LED lighting and an electronic control box. To keep the system compact, tankers use a transversely mounted hydraulic vacuum pump.


Twist locks in each corner and guide plates keep the body held in place. Removal is done using four hydraulic rams offering 200mm (eight inch) lift to get the stands in and keep the body clear of the chassis. The manufacturer claims two people can change the machine from trailer to tanker in 10 minutes. Tanker sizes range from 13,700-20,500 litres (3,000-4,500 gallons).


All three chassis sizes are available now, starting from £30,100 (35,000 Euros) for a chassis and Kompactor trailer body – a 16,000 litre (3,500 gallon) tanker body costs £12,000 (14,000 Euros).

Keltec trailed mower

Designed to be a simple, strong mower with good ground contour following ability, Co Limerick company Keltec introduced a trailed mower at the event.


Using a 3m-wide Comer disc bed and gearboxes, it is said to be suitable for both heavy grass crops and topping. Features include nylon conditioner tines with adjustable conditioning intensity, and adjustable swath boards, spring suspension and cutting height. Large floatation tyres are standard.


This year has seen two models tested in-field, with 10 machines earmarked to be built for next year. Initially, 3m-wide models will be available, with potential for 2.4m-width machines to be added to the range, depending on market feedback.


Power requirement is about 100hp plus for the 3m version. Rough retail prices will be about £16,000 (18,500 Euros).

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