Ahead of the biennial French SIMA international machinery show, we take a look at some of the innovative farm technology visitors can expect to see in Paris on February 24-28, 2019. Alex Heath reports.
Awarded one of two gold medals was Laforge for its implement guidance interface, DynaTrac. The interface decouples motion between the tractor and its implement, which can be mounted or trailed.
A receiver on the implement ensures it maintains its A-B line by hydraulically controlling the side shift on the DynaTrac. Alternatively, cameras and sensors can also be used to control the interface.
The company says the increased level of accuracy is important and beneficial to tasks such as drilling, weeding and product application, where any small inaccuracies with the following implement can have serious consequence to the crop and the implements themselves. The company also claims an increase in productivity by up to 20 per cent, from repeatability, elimination of overlapping and countering side shift when traveling across slopes.
The system can be used with any tractor and implement, whether trailed or mounted says the manufacturer. It does increase the distance between the tractor and implement by 500mm, requiring approximately 20 per cent extra lift capacity.
Three models are available, the classic at £8,880 suitable for trailed implements and tractors up to 400hp; the premium at £11,540, suitable for tractors up to 200hp with mounted or trailed implements and the Ultima suitable for tractors up to 400hp at £14,200.
With an eye on continued herbicide non-renewals Case IH has plotted a course into ‘electroherbicide’ technology. Developed by Swiss firm Zasso Group it has been branded XPower by the CNH Industrial manufacturer. The system which uses high frequency and high voltage electrical current won a bronze medal.
The tractor mounted system which has a working width of 1.2 to three metres, converts mechanical energy from the tractor’s PTO into electrical energy, substituting chemicals for high-energy electrons, applied through the weed leaves and working down through to the roots.
Directed by sensors or a camera-based guidance system, XPower is controlled by Class 3 IsoBus, transferring its voltage via one paddle in contact with the weed leaves which stand proud of the crop or ground. A second paddle touching another weed closes the electrical circuit and the weed chlorophyll is damaged immediately. Results are said to be visible within 30 minutes according to the manufacturer.
CNH Industrial sees this system as a standalone weed control system, or integrated into a plan complimenting chemical herbicides. There are no active ingredient interactions, so weed species is not an issue, neither is growth stage of the weed, providing it is above the crop canopy. Planting can also take place directly after the electrical treatment, and subsequent changes in weather conditions do not hinder efficacy of the pass.
Making the arduous task of washing poultry sheds easier, French firm Rabaud has designed a self-propelled, radio controlled washer unit, winning a bronze medal. The machine is based on a tracked skid unit, with a track width adjustable between 120cm to 170cm.
All cleaning functions are covered on the machine, which comprises of a concertinaing arm capable of reaching 4.5 metres for washing roofs and walls, with five nozzles, and a tunnel offering 360 degree washing of feeding and drinker lines, through static and rotating nozzles. A finishing and foaming lance are also on the machine.
Control is through a radio controlled handset, with tractive and hydraulic power coming from a 22hp Honda motor. The system relies on the manufacturer’s pressure washer unit, which sits outside the shed and feeds the track unit through 100 metres of pipe. The pump pushes out 87 litres per minute at 140bar, and can be powered by tractor pto, or a 60hp diesel motor. A 1,000 litre buffer tank for water services the pressure washer.
Rabaud say the system significantly reduces the need for staff, and the staff that are required are kept far drier and safer than traditional washing setups. Sanitary levels are said to be of comparable quality to a gang of washers, but substantial savings in water are said to be made, compared to manual washing.
Receiving a silver medal was Sodijantes Industrie with its progression on central tyre inflation systems (CTIS). Named Tank Air Wheel, the company has incorporated a high pressure air store within the rim of a wheel.
Air is stored at six bar in the rim of the wheel, as a buffer stock for tyre inflation. When tyre pressure needs increasing, the company says the system provides almost instantaneous desired pressure. It claims the system is ten times quicker than conventional CTIS and can inflate most tyres in less than a minute.
The French company says that soil protection and therefore better agronomic performance of 15-20 per cent, fuel savings of 20 per cent and 50 per cent less on road tyre wear are achieved when tyres are at their optimal pressure. However, the company says current systems do not allow for timely inflation, so tyres either are not deflated in the field, or run at too low a pressure on the road, which also brings about safety issues.
A collaboration between two giants in their respective sectors has culminated in Live NBalance. Airbus and John Deere says the technology is the first of its kind, providing farmers with up to date information for specific fields on all things nitrogen, including supply, uptake, the balance and biomass.
With Airbus supplying the satellites required to take pictures, and John Deere imparting its infield knowledge, the companies say that the system is more accurate than other nitrogen sensing devices as this system is constantly gathering data, rather than relying on data gathered when driving through field for product application.
Data is enhanced by in field sensors, measuring mineral and organic nitrogen, as well as harvest data, such as yield and protein content. A central hub creates a ‘film’ of the field showing deviations, that can be remedied, along with information to adjust fertilization strategy for the following season.
The companies are still developing the accuracy and the software of the system, with no date set for its commercial launch as of yet.
Manitou estimate that 15-30 percent of the time, the engine in a telehandler is running without the driver in the seat. The company says this has a significant impact on the total cost of ownership, through depreciation from clocking up hours, increased fuel consumption and extra maintenance, associated with the engine idling.
Its solution is Eco Stop, which was awarded a bronze medal. When the driver leaves the seat, after a pre set time, the engine will shut down. This can be programmed to happen between one and 30 minutes. The company says if the driver is out of the seat for 15 per cent of time, over 1,000 hours for three years, a saving of £4,000 could be expected from the Eco Stop technology. It is available on most of the company’s MLT range, and can be retrofitted to MLT models produced since September 2018.
Just outside the medals, MX famed for its loaders showed a novel control concept for loader tractors.
Many loader tractors are fitted with a steering knob, making turns faster and easier to control, however, the company’s Tract-Pilot takes this common accessory a step further.
Incorporated into the knob, is everything needed to control the direction of the tractor, removing the need to release the steering wheel to shuttle forwards and backwards, as well as shifting up and down gears. A micro joystick controlled by the thumb is responsible for all these commands, and there is a button to engage the clutch.
The system features a lithium ion battery, with a three year lifespan, and connects to the firms e-Pilot. Although not thought to be offered by tractor manufacturers for the time being, MX say that dealers could be responsible for fitting the system.
Claas had an impressive medal haul, with bronze medals for both its Convio draper header (fully available in the UK 2020) and Torion Sinus loader (not available in the UK), and a gold for its Terra Trac system equipped to its Jaguar 960 forage harvester.
Arbos gained a bronze medal for its Blaster sprayer. Setting it apart from other trailed sprayers on the market is the location of its articulation pin, which sits close to the axle, rather than the drawbar. This is said to provide more accurate application as the boom is kept at a consistent angle to the axle, and changes in speed at boom extremities are kept to a minimum.
Amazone was awarded a bronze medal for its WindControl compensation system fitted to its disc spreaders. A sensor on the spreader monitors wind direction and speed, adjusting the drop point of fertiliser and rotation speed on the disc to compensate for drift.
Winning a bronze medal for its data collecting device was Karnott. Designed with co-operative farming agreements in mind, the system is attached to machinery that is shared between multiple farms. It records and produces a detailed breakdown of where the machine has been used, duration and acreage covered, among other details, to streamline admin and invoice allocation. The unit costs €235 (£212), and has a yearly subscription fee of €120 (£108).
Trimble won a bronze medal for its A-100 Asset Tags, which can be attached to any machine or implement. The system works by Bluetooth, connecting to one of the company’s GPS screens, for quick identification of the machine and the required settings needed for work, said to save time inputing machine attributes.