Sporting a whole host of technology, are all the gizmos and gadgets on Kverneland’s new 2500 series iPlough worth it? James Rickard puts it to the test.
Kverneland's new iPlough can maintain a straight furrow, even in tricky conditions.
Spearheading a new way in which Kverneland is designing and developing its ploughs right across its portfolio, the brand new 2500 plough series burst onto the scene this time last year.
Comprising four, five and six furrow reversible models, the flagship 2500 is the all singing, all dancing iPlough. As the name suggests, it offers levels of technology not previously seen on KV’s ploughs including full IsoBus control and set up of all plough functions. However, the icing on the cake is its ability to automatically alter its working width while ploughing and keep an arrow straight furrow at all times.
Slotting in between its 200 and 300 series ploughs, the 2500 is all new from the ground up. The only components it shares with any other of the firm’s ploughs are the mould boards. Availability is limited this year, with full availability next year. Lower-spec versions with more manual adjustment will eventually be available, but for now we want to see how the 2500 series performs and what impact the iPlough’s technology has on ploughing.
Rated to 280hp, the 2500 series’ headstock sees all pipework and cables routed through the centre of the pivot section.
Incorporated into the headstock is a transport system which allows the plough to be trailed, much like a semi-mounted plough, offering 45 degrees of steering angle. Hydraulics will eventually be used to switch to this mode, but our pre-series machine required three pins at the headstock to be removed – quite easily too. The tractor’s linkage is then raised which sees the top part of the headstock split open, leaving the plough to turn freely thanks to a pivoting cross shaft.
Mechanical wing stops are not used on the iPlough. Instead, the turnover cylinder holds the plough in place, which means ploughing angle can be adjusted on the move, which is actually an easier way of doing it rather than stop, adjust, try again. And you can independently set left and right wing stop positions, to compensate for hillside ploughing, for example.
To hold the turnover cylinder in place, it actually applies pressure to both sides of the ram to eliminate the imbalance of pressure.
For front furrow width adjustment, a hydraulically operated parallelogram linkage is used - much like the firm’s EL/LO ploughs. All you need to do is dial in the measurement between the rear tyres into the control box/terminal. The plough will then tell you which of a five-hole position on the parallel linkage is the optimum position to be in, to access the full range of the plough’s working width. You do not have to use the hole it says, but your working width range will be limited.
Once the front furrow width is set, it can be isolated so it does not move when the working width is adjusted – handy if you are trying to squeeze big tyres into a furrow.
During turnover, the plough will align itself behind the tractor, keeping the plough’s weight central. You can also limit how much the plough does this, or turn this function off altogether, allowing you to tailor the plough to the tractor.
As before, all body pivot points through the beam use full length sleeves with wear points at either end. Nothing is welded to the beam, everything is bolted to prevent distortion.
A 420mm-wide depth wheel can be specified for the 2500. Its sheer size helps keep the plough level, even on undulating land, but because it is so big, it cannot be frame mounted and has to be mounted at the rear. If this was to be an issue for you, a smaller 280mm wheel can be specified which fits under the frame. A track unit is also in the pipeline.
Depth control is hydraulic, and rather than a pendulum design, the plough rotates around the wheel as it turns over. When ploughing, the wheel locks in position, as it does for transport. At the moment, a pin needs removing to put it into transport position, but this will eventually be hydraulically operated from the seat.
If you want to add KV’s Packomat furrow press, the arm fastens to the main pivot point of the beam at the front of the plough.
With a standard underbeam clearance of 80cm, plough leg assembly has been redesigned which sees easier adjustment to the con-rod position and sprung auto-reset system. The latter’s spring pack is now bigger and more powerful, yet lighter.
Featuring seven springs, extra springs can also be added more easily than before – just add to the outside of the pack with no need to take it apart. While it takes a bit more adjustment than a hydraulic auto-reset system, it is fairly easy to do, and probably will not need doing that often. Shearbolt protection is an option.
A rounded leg profile helps with trash flow and the legs are positioned further away from the ‘land side’ to reduce wear. Legs are also hollow and are 15 per cent lighter with 15 per cent less weld than their predecessors.
Skimmer adjustment is also easier which is now done centrally for each pair of opposite skimmers. Basically it means half the work. A positive fixing also holds the skimmers solidly in place, so no rattles. Skimmer pitch and skimmer assembly can also be adjusted to direct trash.
iPlough can be controlled via a tractor’s terminal if suitable, or as in this case, KV’s Tellus Go terminal. With touch screen and short-cut key control, navigation is good, and clear icons help with plough set-up. All plough settings can be done through the terminal with figures clearly shown. In addition, four main modes are used; hitching up, transport, marking or ploughing. manual operation is also available. Up to nine pre-set plough settings can also be set up and recalled – useful if switching between different crop requirements or tractor.
Furrow Control which automatically adjusts working width requires an A-B line to be set up first, after which it looks after itself. Ideally, Furrow Control should be used with RTK guidance, but as long as your signal is accurate enough, satellite-based systems are ample. Ideally, loads sensing hydraulics are required for the automatic adjustment, but a constant flow can be used.
To really give the Furrow Control system something to think about, we deliberately put some severe kinks into the furrow. Switching Furrow Control back on, the plough had the furrow back to arrow straight within two passes (see below).
With Furrow Control turned off, kinks were deliberately put into the furrow.
After two passes with Furrow Control re-engaged, the furrow was back arrow straight.
To the purist ploughman the iPlough may seem like the work of the Devil. However, the ability to conveniently set the plough up from the seat and switch between its various working modes is impressive, not to mention the plough’s ability to ‘steer’ itself. Though, you still need to know your way around a plough.
Furrow Control really comes into its own in slippery conditions; while the tractor is sliding around, the iPlough is left to keep a straight furrow, maintaining ploughing quality. Another advantage is its ability to perfectly match furrows back up after ploughing around an obstacle. As a result, time management should also be improved.
But the 2500 iPlough is not all about the gizmos and gadgets. Developments to metalwork make the plough simple to adjust and set up, particularly the leg assemblies.
At the end of the day, the iPlough is a bit like a smart phone; it can be as advanced or as basic as you like.