Slurry application and forage equipment formed the lion’s share of machinery and technology developments at the recent Irish Ploughing Championships event in County Carlow. Justin Roberts finds out more.
It is not widely appreciated that the company which produces the Zero Grazer range of machines is Hand Engineering, a completely separate entity to Zero Grazer itself. However, the two do work very closely together and the latest product to emerge from the partnership is the Minigrazer - a scaled down version of a zero grazing machine.
The belief is that this new unit will appeal to grassland management situations outside of agriculture such as parkland and equine enterprises. Available with a drum mower of either 1.8m or 2.1m the unit can be handled by smaller tractors of 50hp upwards, says the manufacturer.
Striking a balance between keeping what works and improving upon a successful design is never easy. McHale is one company in particular which is faced with this conundrum and its answer is to introduce a new level of automation to the Fusion series of balers.
Known as the Fusion 3 Pro, the top-end machine now has the firm’s dedicated iTouch control console that brings many basic machine settings, such as bale density and total net layers, into the cab. Monitoring of bale transfer and wrapping by camera also comes as standard with automated switching of view as the bale passes through the machine.
Having enjoyed success with its new range of trailed mowers, Malone Farm Machinery has launched a three metre fully mounted machine, which follows a growing trend of not having a conditioner attached. The claimed reason is that there is little need when the crop is tedded after cutting.
Relying on this second operation to condition the grass reduces the power requirement for mowing and with a total weight of 960kg it ensures less stress is placed on the rear of the mowing tractor, it says. Models with working widths of 2.2m and 2.6m will be available for the 2020 season.
One distinctive feature of Irish engineering companies is their willingness to export. Ireland is a small country and it is to their credit that they look to expand overseas rather than dwell on the limited home market.
Major is a company at the forefront of this enterprising attitude with a large number of its mowers and toppers being shipped to Australia and New Zealand. Recently it has entered the American market where the Cyclone range of toppers has been met with a good deal of success in the southern states. The company has also launched a retrofit dribble bar with a claimed weight of only 450kg.
Complementing the launch of its rear mounted mowers last year, Keltech was showing a new 3m front-mounted mower conditioner.
The high specification mower features adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension for ground contour following, a suspended frame for a pull-type action and the option of hydraulic folding end guards. All drive is to the left with conditioner driven via belts.
In addition, the firm showed its contribution to the rapidly expanding dribble bar market – a retrofit device available either in galvanised mild steel or stainless steel. It also comes with automatic reverse for its Vogelsang macerator, which eliminates blockages and evens out the wear on the moving parts. Keltech claims it is the first time such a feature is available in Ireland.
The conventional slurry tanker has many vices according to Shanks Engineering, not least of which is the lack of stability on slopes.
To address this problem it has taken a fresh look at its basic design and come up with the idea of dividing the tank into two distinct parts, rather than simply install a baffle plate or two.
Within the tank there is a lower front tank and a rear section that extends forwards over the first part which empties first. This arrangement ensures a lower centre of gravity in addition to keeping weight on the drawbar.
Two items from Abbey Machinery that are worthy of note. The first is the Multi-Stage Arm which is claimed to drastically reduce tanker filling thanks to its ‘turbo accelerator’ and 200mm (eight inch) hose which offers a 40 per cent increased flow rate.
The second is a partnership with Dinamica Generale of Italy which has developed a near infra red sensor (NIR) for slurry tankers. When fitted this measures the NPK concentration as well the ammonium content and dry matter of the material in real time, allowing a field map to be created of these inputs and the application rate to be adjusted as necessary.
It is unlikely that history will pay any great attention to the battle of the dribble bars but it is certainly an escalating conflict among suppliers of slurry spreading equipment.
Slurryquip has brought several new cannons to the fray including a mid-mounted boom which allows spreading widths up to 14m, a retrofit boom that enables access to the tank interior without removal and a flow rate meter that can be linked to an app to ensure consistent application rates. The focus of the company is very much on increasing the efficiency of the operation and they claim these products do just that.
Palataine Engineering is a relatively new company based in County Limerick, which has been producing rugged grass harrows with the option of attaching seeders for several years now.
Acting on a request from an existing customer, the company has developed the 'PP-Rip'; a front mounted implement designed to break up strips of dry soil ahead of a rear mounted harrow and seeder combination.
Both depth and coulter angle are adjustable, and Palatine claims that it works as well on uneven ground as it does level fields. The standard model is 2.9m wide and sales are presently limited to Ireland.
In response to the ever increasing size of material handlers found on the larger continental farms Prodig has produced a 4.8m (16 feet) wide folding fork, an increase of 0.6m (two feet) over the company’s previous largest model.
Bio digester units in Germany form an importation part of the company’s business and it has recently moved into the Scandinavian market with the appointment of a Danish dealer.
Away from the loader attachments it has also developed a weighing system for the bag fillers in its range with the data being transmittable to a phone or tablet via a Bluetooth connection.
There are many smaller engineering companies beavering away quietly in Ireland, producing products for the local and national market which plot a course of continual improvement rather than dramatic change.
One such firm is Rossmore engineering of Tipperary which has been building tractor loaders since 1981. Suitable for nearly all makes and models, it offers a better balance at a friendlier price when compared to original manufactures branded units, it claims.
New to the show this year were two grab buckets with a roll back design which reduces the adhesion of feed and silage to the interior surface.