With the upcoming Agritechnica set to be the launch pad for New Holland’s latest T8 tractor, Alex Heath got the opportunity for a sneak preview of the new machine...
Hailed as a major step change in its tractor design, the latest T8 from New Holland uses the Genesis moniker first given to the 70 series launched in the US more than 25 years ago.
Where that series was revolutionary for the company in its day, the latest T8 Genesis is also destined to change the way its tractors perform, according to the company, with its in-built computer wizardry.
From the outside you would not be mistaken for thinking the tractor has merely had a refresh.
However, that would be a drastic misconception.
Underneath the sculpted panels of the flagship T8.435 Blue Power model, the company has worked feverishly in packing as much technology as possible into the tractor, making operations simpler and more efficient, and thus the operator’s experience more comfortable.
However, residing in the tub chassis, the engine’s outputs remain the same, albeit now produced from a Stage 5-compliant, 8.7-litre, FPT oil burner. The five-model range starts at 250hp, rising to 435hp with electronic power management.
The company says the new T8 Genesis with its Precision Land Management Intelligence package, has been designed to be a truly global tractor, with equal appeal expected from row crop farmers stateside and arable and grassland farmers in Europe.
With this in mind, there are dozens of configurations the tractor can be supplied in, dependent on the track spacing required.
And this is not limited to wheels and tyres, with the company also offering its Smart-Trax half-track variant on the two largest Auto Command CVT models and the largest Ultra Command powershift model, the T8.410 (with a rated power of 400hp) 21-speed Ultra Command joining the stable later in 2020. The smallest T8.320 model will then be phased out.
BUILT in Racine, Wisconsin, the new tractors feature an updated cab. While the cab frame is essentially the same, the guts of the cab have been well and truly renewed.
The B pillar on the left is gone, making it a true four-pillar cab with improved views all round.
In addition, the manufacturer has developed a new armrest, the SideWinder Ultra, the magnum opus of the cab interior. Designed to be intuitive to use, in practice, buttons and levers fall to hand seamlessly.
And placed at the front of the armrest is the latest version of its CommandGrip control lever. While ergonomic, it is slightly daunting with its 20 per cent increase in buttons over the previous design.
Two spool valves, direction, neutral, a programmable button, GPS activation, range change and speed selection roller, plus more are all found on the face, with an emergency stop button on top to stop the pto, hydraulic and linkage functions.
But this is where the design team has found its rhythm, with features not seen before in a tractor. While the interior is finished to automotive standards, the hardware inside would not look out of place in a high-end German saloon car.
Take for instance the paddles for the electronic spool valve control.
Through the screen, each paddle can be swapped to give the operator the most comfortable position for each operation, with the built-in paddle lights changing to designate each spool.
Five paddles come as standard, controlling the rear spool valves, with a further two added to the front right-hand side of the armrest, or a joystick for more tactile control of implements.
Also new is a threeway spliced mid-mount valve for front linkage control, plus two spools. The rear can accommodate up to six spool valves.
Operator comfort is at the top of the agenda. As a result, a leather semi-active suspended seat is included, onto which the SideWinder armrest is bolted.
This can move vertically, as well as horizontally.
With connectivity also vying for top spot, the firm has added 40 per cent more power sockets throughout the cab, in anticipation for an increasing numbers of control boxes and ancillary hardware running from the cab.
More storage space has been included in the semi-active suspended cab, with cavernous boxes under the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, where you will find a small torch, plus there is the option for a cool box in the righthand doorway.
This is a result of the standard radio and climate controls now being placed in the roof lining.
Also on the armrest is a small recessed encoder for finer adjustment of linkage and hydraulics, for example, when working in the field.
Outside the cab, 30 per cent more lighting power is offered with the 360-degree package now packing 49,400 lumens.
Two cameras are also included; a 170-degree front facing camera nestled into the grille, ideal for getting onto the road, and a rear facing one on the left-hand cab pillar.
Neatly, the forward facing camera will pop up on the new InfoView digital dash (pictured above), which is placed in line with the steering wheel. All the usual machine parameters are shown here including speed, revs, fuel levels, temperatures and the like.
When the day is done, remove the keys and walk away. The tractor will lock and unlock itself based on the proximity of the new key fob, or press a button on the fob and the tractor will lock itself thanks to a central locking system.
It will also turn the lights on when the fob is in range.
BELTS are sourced from Camso.
The firm believes having the drive lugs bonded into the belt, with the tread added on after, rather than the other way round, as some competitors do, creates a more durable and efficient track. Nine lugs are always in contact with the drivewheel, ensuring transmission of power.
The three idlers have been redesigned with a different, harderwearing rubber compound used and are bolted to the hubs, but still retain sight glasses for ease of maintenance.
The company added that for older SmartTrax units, this new idler design is available through the parts channel.
At start-up, the tracks are automatically tensioned via a hydraulic cylinder.
To reduce vibrations, track units are mounted with rubber shock blocks. Weight distribution is 80:20 in favour of the rear when under draft load, with the front-end taking more weight when turning.
Additionally, there is now a brake to steer function which slows the inside track when turning, making it easier, tighter and kinder on the ground when a turn is made.
This is in response to SmartTrax users who have commented the tractor would not always want to steer in certain conditions. Speed is limited to 40kph.
WITH connectivity at the forefront of the tractor, onboard intelligence architecture has been thoroughly rebuilt, with much of the inspiration coming from the company’s Autonomous Concept Vehicle (ACV).
While still a research and development project, the company says much has been learned from the concept, with intra- and extravehicular communication technology lifted from it.
This includes the doubling up of the machine’s CanBus network to four CANs, providing much greater ability to transmit large amounts of data around the machine.
While the company says the tractor has the fundamentals to be driverless ready, it says a masterslave- type arrangement or vehicle to vehicle communication is much more likely to occur in the near future.
To achieve this, a processing and connectivity module (P and CM) has been added, instead of the AM-53 modem of old, solving the biggest issue of processing and transmitting data. Likewise, the CNH Nav 3 navigation controller has also been dispensed, as has the old GPS receiver.
The new Precision Land Management (PLM) Cygnus receiver uses NovAtel GPS hardware and is available with three New Holland branded signals: PLM 1 (15cm), PLM 2 (5cm) and PLM RTK (2.5cm). The Cygnus has an inertial measurement unit (IMU) built in for increased accuracy of heading direction, quicker convergence and reliability when signal is interrupted.
The company says P and CM enables the next generation of in-field communications between machines, its MyPLM Connect telematic portal and cloud-based applications with inbuilt WiFi and Bluetooth.
New precision farming techniques are achievable with the set-up, the company reckons, and says it is future-proofed.
Also for the first time, the T8 is now IsoBus Class 3 compatible. Coupled to this, the new system allows for greater telematic data gathering, the opportunity for enhanced output with remote mentoring through its New Holland IntelliView Connect remote display access, as well as firmware over the air software updates, which the company is branding as New Holland Remote Services.
All this tech is now controlled through the android-based Intelliview 12, 12-inch touch-screen display. The screen itself is silky and intuitive in its operation, a massive leap forward when compared to the old version.
While the top, drop-down bar is permanent, much of the rest of the screen can be configured to the operator’s choosing by dragging and dropping.
At the bottom are a host of run screens which can easily be called upon. Various shortcut buttons around the armrest can be pressed to launch a page and for those who do not like touch-screens or are travelling over tramlines, there is a small scroll wheel near the screen.