At an exclusive press demo event in Leipzig eastern Germany, Fendt demonstrated new additions
At an exclusive press demonstration event on a large farm near Leipzig in eastern Germany, Fendt demonstrated new versions of its largest 800 and 900 series tractors as well as added functions and features for its precision farming products. Other news included the announcement of two additional versions of its Katana forage harvester. David Williams was invited to try out the latest models.
New 800 and 900 Vario tractors were demonstrated by Fendt in Germany.Ahead of the Agritechnica show to be held in Hannover, Germany in mid-November the summer of 2013 has been full of news of new and updated products of all sorts and sizes, from manufacturers across Europe. Agricultural machine emissions regulations, which have become increasingly stringent in stages during the past four years, come to a head during 2014, with most new powered machines being required to meet more demanding standards and many engine updates have centred on the need to meet these targets.800 and 900 series tractors
Fendt’s largest 800 and 900 Vario series tractors are Western and central Europe’s best sellers in the over-200hp segment, according to the company, which claims an impressive market share of 33 per cent, and existing 828 Vario and 936 Vario model tractors are each the current DLG PowerMix world efficiency champions within their power class. This means that getting their replacements right is essential for the company.
The Fendt 800 Vario series flagship, the 828 produces 280hp.The new tractors retain their previous model numbers and from a distance look little different; the engine hood just 4cm higher and the tractors some 3cm longer than their predecessors. Under the bonnet though, there is a lot of extra technology, including a second turbocharger, a charge-air intercooler, a passive particulate filter and exhaust gas recirculation, all of which combine to produce better economy and performance, without any additional maintenance requirement, says Fendt.The turbochargers operate in series, and are different sizes, gasses entering the smaller unit first, a wastegate system controlling the pressure distribution between the two. Air passes through an intermediate intercooler on its way to the intake manifold. A benefit of the arrangement is better power delivery and reduced fuel use at low revs compared with previous models.
Despite the slightly higher engine hood, due to the larger cooling system fitted, front visibility is excellent.Between 10-15 per cent of the exhaust gasses return to the engine through the EGR system, and the remainder pass through a passive diesel particulate filter and on to the SCR (Adblue) mixing chamber at the base of the exhaust silencer before exiting through the vertical exhaust to the front right of the cab. Fendt explained that it chose this system as it offers the lowest overall operating costs of the options available. Increased engine cooling capacity, a lower rated engine speed of 2,100rpm on the 900 Vario models and map-controlled Adblue injection are all claimed to play their part in reducing fuel and Adblue consumption and, in fact, Fendt claims its new models are more economical than their predecessors, despite conforming to the stricter emissions regulations.
The engines have two turbos, and use a combination of SCR (Adblue) and EGR to meet Tier 4 final emissions regulations.New 800 Vario tractors are available with 220-280hp and 900 Varios with 270-390hp.
The 924 Vario from the company’s previous range is replaced by models within the 800 Vario series and so has been discontinued.All models have a 6-cylinder engine; 6.06 litres capacity on the 800 Varios and 7.75 litres on 900 Vario tractors, all now with steel one-piece pistons, and fuel is supplied to the combustion chamber through three high pressure fuel pumps to the common-rail injection system. Cooling performance is improved, and includes the option of a reversible fan to blow radiators and grills clear of loose debris.
The 800 Vario tractors have the ML220 Vario transmission and the 900 Varios use the more rugged ML260. All are capable of 60kph, and the 900 Vario models offer step-less adjustment from just 20 metres per hour for speciality applications.On the 800 Vario range standard tyre sizes start at 540/65R30 (fr) and 650/65R42 (rr) on the smallest 822, while the 900 Vario range flagship, the 939 is equipped with 600/70R34 (fr) and 710/75R42 (rr). The familiar Profi and Profi-Plus specification options will be available. Efficiency in the field and on the road
An option now on all 800 and 900 series tractors is VarioGrip, a fully-integrated tyre pressure control and inflation system allowing the operator to control pressures from the cab. Many modern agricultural tyres have the ability to carry heavy loads at high transport speeds while at lower field speeds they can run at reduced pressure which provides a larger footprint and spreads the load over a larger area, reducing ground pressure. This relies on the tyre pressure being suitably set for each operation and often a compromise will result, between the low and the high pressure. By having the built-in inflation system, with its integral compressor, the operator can inflate the tyres with the high pressure needed for high speed road work, but can reduce the pressure for field work, inflating it again when necessary for the journey back to the yard.Fendt claims that reducing the tyres to their lowest working pressures for field work means the new tractors with up to 40 extra horsepower are able to provide as much pulling capacity as other tractors not equipped with the inflation system.VarioGrip is controlled from the Variotronic display, and two pressure values can be set and stored per axle.Operator environment
The X5 cab has been improved with more powerful air conditioning and automatic dimming of the controls depending on ambient light makes them easier to read. Steering is improved; the FendtReaction system offering better performance for straight-ahead driving while an option is VarioActive steering which halves the steering wheel turns required to guide the tractor above a pre-set speed. Optional pneumatic suspension of the driver’s seat now uses an air supply from the external compressed air system, rather than having an extra compressor in the cab, so those used to the buzz of the compressor as they enter the cab and apply their mass to the seat will notice the new lack of noise.An audible warning buzzer now sounds if the handbrake is not applied and the operator leaves the seat, and integrated lights by the cab steps, a feature seen already on the 700 Vario range, are now adopted on the larger tractors.Front visibility is improved with a novel programmable windscreen wiper which, for field work, can be set to wipe a full 300 degree arc from one side of the bulkhead to the other, keeping the lower portion of the front screen clear of dirt and optimising driver’s visibility, particularly down to the front wheels, or to a front-mounted or mid-mounted implement. However, for road use, where it is more important to have rapid clearing of the upper section of the screen above bonnet level, the wiper can be set to operate in just this area, with a 180 degree sweep.Fendt’s Variotronic screen is used to set up and control all main functions. The latest version of the optional larger 10.4-inch display has a full scratch-proof glass face, similar to that of a smart phone and it has LED backlighting and is clearer. Performance of the built-in Bluetooth system, used to transfer job data to the field database in the farm office is improved.
The latest Variotronic screen is much clearer and easier to use, with similar clarity to a smart-phone screen.A further new option is VarioGuide Light, a new lower-priced system for those who don’t require all the functions available through the larger screen.New electronic assistance systems to help the operator include automatic section control for up to 24 sections, the new entry-level VarioGuide Light guidance system, Agcommand telemetry, the VarioDoc Pro documentation system and the automatic maximum output control 2.0 which ensures optimal engine and transmission management.Other cab options include a heated front screen and a mobile ‘phone bracket in the armrest.
Outside, Bi-LED driving lights with manual range adjustment can be specified, as well as LED work lights.Hydraulics
The new 800 Varios have a more powerful load-sensing hydraulic pump drive available, increasing optional maximum flow rate to match the 900 Varios from 193 to 206 litres/min. Standard flow on both is 152 litres/min. Available oil volume is 80 litres on 800 Varios and 87 on 900 Vario tractors.
The main change on the new tractors is that pressure for the power steering system is now provided by a more efficient displacement pump which provides only as much oil as is needed, saving fuel over the previous pump which produced a constant flow and pressure.At the rear, a new ball-type coupling rated for loads up to 50t is available, up from 40t previously.
Maximum rear lift capacity is 11.1t and 11.8t on the 800 Vario and 900 Vario respectively.
Front linkage with ‘load relief control’ is available which is said to improve traction and fuel consumption.Maintenance and reliability
Engine hoods are now lockable for added security.
An Adblue consumption indicator lets the operator monitor use and a fuel filter with a return means quicker warm-up of diesel in the system, a benefit to those working in the coldest conditions.900 Vario test drive
The latest flagship 939 Vario will feel entirely familiar to current Fendt operators, sharing the same basic layouts and control actions.Working with a Lemken cultivator on damp stubble the tractor was equipped with the latest 10.4-inch VarioTerminal which looked after the guidance and steering. The new screen is noticeably brighter and clearer than its predecessor and particularly for those working longer days, it will be easier on the eye requiring less concentration to read.Before trying out the latest tractor a concern had been what effect the altered front bonnet line and larger exhaust system would have on forward visibility but, in practice, the view remains excellent. The new bonnet line is noticeably higher but remains quite narrow and the view out in front, particularly important in traffic on the road, as well as down to both front wheels, is relatively unaffected by the new styling. The external section of the exhaust pipe is in line with the front right cab pillar and the bulbous area in which the magic with the Adblue occurs is right at its base, so in work there is little difference from the old design.Noise levels in the cab are low, and there is no extra sound noticeable from the twin turbos. The 939 is a powerful tractor, even with the engine operating at lower revs but when the cultivator hit a tougher patch there was plenty of grunt available, the engine and transmission management system easily adjusting to meet the demand while extra power was needed.Precision farming updates
Fendt’s Variotronic control system has been improved with many new functions and is now available for more machines, including tractors from the 500-900 Vario ranges, the Katana 50, 65 and 85 forage harvesters and Fendt combines in the company’s C, P and X-series.The company says that 50 per cent of all VarioGuide-capable 500, 700, 800 and 900 Vario series tractors are ordered equipped with a guidance-ready kit and that in the UK the percentage is considerably higher. “Two years ago we saw demand for guidance equipment from farms with more than 250ha (620 acres) but now there is demand from just 150ha (370 acres) as farmers recognise the benefits in terms of increased efficiency and reduced costs,” explained Fendt national sales manager Richard Shelton.The principle behind the Variotronic concept is a unified operating interface needing just one screen to control the tractor and implement. The one-terminal strategy is said to benefit users with; reduced costs, future proof design with software updates as required, a perfectly positioned terminal in the cab, better efficiency, a better overview with fewer cables and connectors needed and better knowledge through the automated record keeping functions, linking in with other farm management systems.Automated section control
Linked with GPS positioning information provided by the VarioGuide guidance system, automated SectionControl, up to 24 sections, allows users to more accurately apply chemicals and fertiliser, and to place seed exactly where needed. As well as preventing over and under applications, it also allows easier working during periods of poor visibility or at night. SectionControl is available for the larger 10.4-inch VarioTerminal for use with tractors from the 500-900 Vario ranges, and can be retro-fitted to existing systems.It is compatible with 500 and 700 Vario, 800 and 900 Vario SCR and Tier 4 final tractors, equipped to the ProfiPlus specification.Test drive
Farmers Guide was given the opportunity to try out the new section control on a 722 Vario working with a mounted Amazone ZA-TS4200 spreader. The spreader was empty but the system used the Isobus link between the tractor and implement to control spread switching and width of application as though fertiliser was being applied. An irregular-shaped artificial field had been set up on the screen within the test area, the diagonal sides causing the spread width to be constantly adjusted to allow for triangular-shaped areas needing ‘application’. The latest 10.4-inch glass screen wasn’t fitted, the previous version installed in the tractor, but the image made it easy to understand the settings and the operation, and to understand what was happening and what was being applied, and to where.
Previously VarioGuide automatic guidance was available only for the larger 10.4-inch screen but with increased demand for guidance systems, from users not requiring all the features of the larger screen, Fendt has developed VarioGuide Light, an entry-level version with fewer functions but including all the essentials which operate with its smaller 7-inch screen. Fendt describes it as ideal for grassland operations or for tillage work. As well as its lower purchase cost a further benefit is that it operates with the cost-free EGNOS correction service, but where this isn’t available it can work without a correction service using GPS and GLONASS.
VarioGuide Light works with 500 and 700 Vario SCR Profi, and 800 and 900 Vario Tier 4 Final Profi versions, and the cost is approximately 3,800 less than a standard VarioGuide system. Katana
The Katana 65 forage harvester, with up to 480kW (653hp) available is being demonstrated in the UK this year with full availability for 2014. It has been available in limited numbers in Germany for two years and recently Fendt announced updates to its specification for 2014.Being launched at Agritechnica is a more powerful model, the Katana 85 with a 21-litre V-12 MTU engine developing 625kW (850hp) and featuring electronic engine control. First production machines are due out of the factory in March 2014 and just five will be working in Germany, Italy and France during the first season. The price is expected to be approximately 390,000, which is 55,000 more than the 65.Much of the specification is the same as that of the 65, the 720mm diameter chopping drum currently the largest on the market, and it will retain the Fendt V-Cracker for maize, which swings in and out of work in just a few minutes for those switching between grass and maize. It will also have the Eco/Power operating modes allowing the engine speed to be reduced, saving fuel, for lighter work.
A reinforced rear axle is fitted, it has a slightly larger wheelbase and it can be supplied with either 1,100 litres diesel and 250 litres water capacity for those applying silage additives or both tanks can be used for diesel providing a total of 1,350 litres if water application isn’t required. On the Katana 65 the 250-litre tank is used for the Adblue, needed for the SCR-equipped power unit.
Also being announced is a smaller model, the Katana 50 which shares a similar specification to the 65, and is powered by a 510hp version of the same Mercedes Benz V-8 power unit.
The future demonstrated
Several tractor and implement manufacturers have been experimenting with different drive systems in recent years in an attempt to increase efficiency and productivity and to reduce fuel use and Fendt demonstrated its X Concept electric drive, which it admits is several years away from being commercially available.The modified 722 Vario tractor was equipped with a high voltage electricity supply to power attachments, negating the need for a traditional PTO, the drive shaft replaced by a conventional (but very thick) electric cable from the rear of the tractor to the attachment. Unlike some other systems which have been trialled, Fendt has retained its standard PTO output spline, believing that even if electric drive does take-off and become the norm, it will be many years before all mechanically-driven attachments on farms have been replaced.On the test tractor, to accommodate the electrical generator, the usual 6-cylinder engine has been replaced by a shorter 4-cylinder and the generator mounted at the rear of the engine by the bulkhead. Up to 130kW of continuous power is available, the generator producing 700V DC, but the tractor-implement interface is designed to handle up to 150kW.Isobus equipped implements are used, the tractor output controlled using information supplied from the implement. The VarioTerminal has dedicated screens to set up and monitor performance and output. Efficiency from the crankshaft to the implement is said to be an impressive 96 per cent.
A significantly modified cooling package for the tractor engine and generator includes a powerful electric-powered fan replacing the standard cooling fan.In use
The test tractor was coupled to a trailer with driven axles, and in place of the standard PTO shaft drive to the trailer transmission was the electric power cable and an electric motor beneath the front of the trailer driving direct to the axle gearboxes.
In place of the standard transfer gearbox which takes power from a PTO shaft, the trailer was equipped with an electric motor drive.The operator was able to set up on the VarioTerminal the amount of assistance needed. Three automatic settings had been pre-programmed, providing 50, 66 or 75 per cent assistance or in manual mode the operator could simply select the drive required from the wheels in Nm.When the tractor starts moving the electrical drive is immediately activated and on the screen the engine speed, power produced and amount of drive assistance was displayed. Demonstrating the trailer wheel drive, the operator could select neutral on the tractor and manually start the electrical drive and the trailer pushed the tractor up the field. When stopping, the tractor cont