Agritechnica, one of the world’s largest trade fairs for agricultural technology, opened this week in Hannover, Germany. According to organizer DLG (German Agricultural Society) the show is expected to attract more than 450,000 attendees from 130 countries over its seven-day run.
One highlight is the announcement of this year’s Innovation Awards, a competition open to the 2,750 exhibiting companies. Submissions are vetted by a panel of independent scientists, researchers and forward-looking farmers. Awards are conferred on products that present new concepts and designs that offer a substantial improvement to agricultural processes and benefits in terms of profitability, safety and the environment. Among this year’s silver award winners are several developments that rely on fluid power systems.
Scorpion reach-arm mowers
Scorpion mowers from GreenTec A/S now offer both types of cutting head control, thanks to the Hybrid Arm System, which makes it easy to enable or disable the parallel motion of the arm from the cab controls.
On one hand, it offers parallel control especially suitable for hedge trimming. It lets operators maintain a consistent cutting depth on the hedge with minimal adjustment. On the other hand when cutting irregular vegetation, such as verge and ditch mowing in difficult conditions, it is better to disable the parallel motion and let operators flexibly control the cutting head.
This innovative hybrid arm system makes it possible to switch between the two modes on the move. Parallel control lets operators keep an eye on the surroundings for increased work safety, while switching to manual mode allows them to carry out specific cuts for better productivity.
The boom mowers can also regulate the cutting height automatically with the optional Auto Height Control (AHC), developed in cooperation with Danfoss. It is mainly used for verge and ditch mowing and ensures that the cutting head follows the contours of the ground and floats above the terrain. It avoids mowing into the ground and damaging the cutting head. AHC can be enabled from the cabin while the driver concentrates on traffic and potential obstacles in the way.
The new series of boom mowers contains 10 models with horizontal reaches from 3.3 to 8.3 m (10.8 to 27.2 ft). The larger units have a Danfoss 60 cc piston pump rated at 33 gpm and 4,500 psi. The two smallest models are designed for machines like compact tractors and skid steer loaders. All models can either be front or rear mounted.
The use of biodegradable plastic films has a long tradition in row cropping. Covering a seed row with plastic film is a practical way of controlling weeds. In addition, film reduces water evaporation rates and heats the topsoil, which in turn encourages early growth and reduces the vegetation period. Many films are punched by the punch hole seeder, or immediately after the seeding pass with mechanical elements so the new plants can shoot through the film without tearing it. Yet these holes also allow weeds to establish, which is not desirable as they are difficult to remove.
The ModulaJet system from Forigo Roter Italia SRL is an innovative seed placement technology for crops grown under film. The seeds are pneumatically separated, then accelerated in an air stream and shot through the film into the soil. This creates a very small hole right above the seed that is too small to allow weeds to develop. The depth of seed placement is controlled by the air flow rate. Seed rate and application of the film at the end of the field are controlled electronically. The system works best for large seeds such as corn or soybeans.
Using much smaller holes in the film significantly reduces the degree of weed development after the new plants have broken through, reducing the subsequent row crop work.
When harvesting, some potatoes often get spilled or are simply too small to be picked up by the harvester. Left behind in the field, tubers may not freeze due to increasingly warmer winters. They may survive to produce sprouts that become “volunteer” potato plants the following season. They can be a difficult weed to control because they emerge throughout the spring, offer limited herbicide options, sap nutrients and water from the main crop and pose a source of disease for any nearby potato crop.
The new potato squeezer from Ropa Maschinenbau is the first system to rely on two tires that are driven hydraulically at different speeds, thereby squeezing and grinding the potatoes passing between them. One tire is fitted with angled knives that cut large tubers into pieces before they are crushed. The combined use of knives and tires makes the squeezer very effective, because the narrow gap is not widened and it still squeezes large tubers. For reliable performance and quiet running, the unit has spring-loaded impact damage protection and lets users select individual rotation speeds.
The potato squeezer damages the tubers that are sorted out by pickers or machine, thereby minimizing the potential that they survive and subsequently grow in the field. The potato squeezer is a retrofit unit for modular Ropa potato harvesters.
EasyCut F 400 CV Fold
Traffic laws often limit how wide a machine can be carried on a trailer. For instance, German regulations restrict transport widths of a tractor-mounted machine to 3 m. Due to this restriction, the maximum working width of front mowers is quite small, and that often means less-than-ideal results and the risk of tires running on cut grass and of leaving stripes of uncut grass.
The new Krone EasyCut F 400 CV Fold disc mower conditioner offers a work width of 4 m, which cures the above problems by using the machine in combinations with a rear or a butterfly mower, especially when cutting bends and sloping fields. This combination offers larger overlaps that eliminate striping. On the other hand, the foldable cutterbar allows the machine to pivot to the rear for a sub 3 m transport width. Further advantages include the hydraulic folding mechanism that is operated from the cab and gives added road safety.
Another benefit of a large front mower width is the fact that it eliminates the need for fitting complex sensor-based control systems to avoid striping – a costly technology that actually does not contribute to the overall efficiency. Run-over stripes are eliminated and the quality of work improves.
MultiRate Dosing System
With the MultiRate Dosing System for pneumatic spreaders from Rauch, the dosing units of each individual fertilizer outlet opening are continuously and independently electronically adjusted.
The 48-V electric drive enables extremely short adjustment times and, therefore, a fast variation of fertilizer quantity applied during forward travel. Perpendicular to the driving direction, the fertilizer application can be varied in 1.2 m wide strips, which leads to a considerably higher spatial resolution compared to previous options. For fertilizing according to an application map, the specified values are implemented more exactly, and when spreading wedges and in curves, over- and under-dosing are considerably reduced. Boundary spreading can also be optimized by adapting the quantity to the outer fertilizer outlet opening in conjunction with a boundary spreading baffle plate.
With the MultiRate Dosing System, it is therefore possible to apply fertilizer more safely; the crop can be supplied according to need and the level of nutrients finding their way into bodies of water and the ground water can be reduced. In addition, even with large working widths of up to 36 m, small-areas of ecological significance within a field can be specifically excluded from fertilization.
Hoeing implements and/or hoeing units are usually adjusted mechanically while at a stop. The adjustment procedures are extremely complex and time-consuming, which in practice generally prevents optimized adjustment from taking place.
The VarioCHOP System from samo Maschinenbau is a hoeing implement or hoeing units with a variable processing width that can be conveniently adjusted from the tractor cab. With VarioCHOP, an adjustment to various field conditions, crops, weather events, erosion and stages of growth can be quickly carried out. The system operates with a reaction time of approximately five seconds and can be used on hoes with up to 99 rows. The mechanical adjustment to each individual hoeing unit is driven by one precision hydraulic cylinder that is coupled to a heavy-duty steering angle sensor. As a result, it is possible to adjust the optimum hoeing range from the tractor cab. This then makes it possible to always achieve the perfect distance to the crop plant from the first to the last hoeing pass.
With this method, passes for mechanical weed control can be clearly optimized. However the great practical benefit particularly lies in the considerable savings of time when adjusting the hoeing implement. Coupling with camera systems already available on the market to provide automatic range adjustment would be another advantage in practice.