A press launch event held on a 1,140 acre farm near Hannover in Germany was used by Lemken to display a wide range of new products
A European press launch event held on a 460ha (1,140 acre) farm near Hannover in Germany was used by Lemken to display a wide range of new products which will enter full production during the next few years. David Williams reports.
The Lemken press event was held at a farm near Hannover.
Lemken is a family-owned company, with its headquarters in Alpen, Germany. Its products are produced and assembled at six sites; Alpen; Meppen and Fohren in Germany where its sprayers are made, India, Russia and China which is due to commence operations in late June.
The company started trading as a blacksmith in 1780, and in 1936 production moved to Alpen. Seven generations of the Lemken family have owned the company, which turned over 60 million in 2013, up 10 per cent year-on-year compared with 2012. The company employed 1,226 employees in May 2014.
The largest single market for Lemken products is Germany which, in 2013, saw growth of 11 per cent compared with 2012, but its sales in the UK were very impressive, recording an increase over the 12 months of 45 per cent, and accounting for 5 per cent of Lemken’s total turnover. The company’s main products are sprayers, cultivation products and seed drills, and the biggest increase in demand recently has been for its compact disc harrows.
Export sales account for 72 per cent of turnover, most of which is through Lemken’s 23 owned subsidiaries. “Because the sales are through Lemken’s own businesses the full focus of the business is on Lemken products,” explained Lemken CEO Anthony van der Ley. “In 2009 the company produced 10,700 machines whereas in 2013 17,400 were made and, as well as sales subsidiaries and new manufacturing plants we are investing heavily in research and development, which is currently 49 million Euros per year and increasing three per cent annually.
“The first quarter of 2014 has been the best ever in Lemken’s history and we anticipate a busy future. Recent investment includes expansion of the factory at Alpen, and we have acquired extra land on which we are constructing an Agro farm, for testing and demonstrating our machinery, and which is likely to open in 2016,” he continued.
Product developmentsThe Sirius 10 mounted rear sprayer entered production two years ago, and features a circulation line and independent electric single-nozzle valves on each nozzle. New Megaspray software for the CCI control screen, which is Isobus-based and available only for the Sirius 10 model, can operate up to 60 individual nozzles, and where RTK guidance is available the nozzles switch individually, or where manual control is used, then sections can be switched allowing the operator to switch off groups of nozzles at a time.
The Isobus-compatible system can be operated through the tractor’s in-cab display but Lemken suggests that so many features are available, it is preferable to use the Lemken screen for sprayer operation, using the tractor’s screen for other functions such as guidance.
Lemken’s Megaspray can be operated from the tractor’s Isobus-linked display, but Lemken says using a separate Lemken screen enables optimum use to be made of the spray system’s features.
Full flexibility of operation through the Isobus-based system means tractor controls can be allocated to various sprayer functions to suit operator preference. Almost all sprayer functions are controlled from the screen including independent boom control, which keeps both sides of the boom independently parallel to the ground at the pre-set height. It also controls functions such as automatic boom rinsing, which allows the operator to flush the boom through with clean water, circulating it through the boom tubes and back to the tank, prior to travelling between spray sites.
The CCI screen can be operated as a touch-screen or using buttons on the edge of the screen housing to suit operator preference, and a feature which makes it easy to use is the constant display of basic information, the operator needing only to tap the relevant area of the screen and a detailed menu opens up filling most of the screen, for that function area. A jog dial can also be used to move through the various function areas, highlighting each area in turn.
Megaspray will be available from September 2014.
Gemini front tankDesigned to complement the rear-mounted Sirius sprayer, the Gemini front tank extends capacity by 1,100 litres, taking total volume to 3,000 litres, and providing an additional option to a self-propelled or large trailed sprayer.
The Gemini front tank will be demonstrated at Cereals.
A benefit of the front tank is the increased stability and weight distribution. A built-in agitator ensures chemicals remain thoroughly mixed. The agitator and internal cleaning system are fed by a hydraulic pump and two selector valves are used to select suction, clean water or mixed fluid, agitation and cleaning.
Used with Lemken’s CCI200 display and Megaspray software, transfer of fluid from the front tank to the rear can occur automatically at the headlands, the volume of fluid in both tanks monitored constantly, and liquid transferred to the rear to maintain pre-set relative levels.
The Gemini front tank will be demonstrated at Cereals and full production starts this summer. The price is 5,120 including agitation and an integrated 120-litre clean water tank.
High spec trailed sprayerAlso shown at the event was a new trailed sprayer, the Vega, which was displayed as a concept sprayer at Agritechnica in 2011, and which is now undergoing on-farm testing.
The Vega trailed sprayer is the first developed by Lemken, but won’t be available until 2016.
The Vega is the first trailed sprayer developed by Lemken and will be available in three tank sizes; 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 litres and with boom widths from 15-30m.
Generous ground clearance is provided by an axle which is integrated into the frame and drawbar steering is an option. Mechanical suspension and higher performance pneumatic suspension are options, the pneumatic system automatically adjusting for the weight of the sprayer. Tyres up to 2m diameter can be accommodated, and the rear folding boom means wider tyres can be fitted than with side folding booms.
Boom suspension is by three dampers and Lemken automatic boom control, which uses three sensors to measure height above the crop, is an option. The aluminium booms are independently controlled and gyro sensors electronically adjust the arm angles between +16 degrees and -8 degrees to keep them parallel to the crop being treated. Height is adjustable from 0.5-3.0m below the boom. There is space for 5-way nozzle bodies to be fitted. Constant circulation through the spray pipes within the boom mean spraying liquid is immediately available along the whole boom length as soon as the individual nozzles are switched on.
A two-pump system provides high flow rates, allowing one to be used for mixing while the other is used for spraying and the sprayer is available with either 200 litres/min standard or 260 litres/min optional pump capacity.
The first pre-production versions are being tested on-farm this season and a limited number of pre-series sprayers will be operating next year, with general availability expected for 2016.
SeedingA GPS-controlled tramline mechanism for Lemken’s Solitair drills is one of the new features available to users through Lemken’s own Isobus drill control screen. Tramlinecontrol means tramlines are automatically created where needed regardless of whether the field is drilled in bouts or in progressive tracks. Most drills count the passes required between tramlines, monitoring each headland turn, and this means the operator has to drill progressively across the field, and has to turn tight at each end to make the return pass.
The Lemken system just requires the operator to enter whether he is starting the field on the left or the right and whether to start with a half or full working width. This information is transferred by the seed drill control to the track guidance system of the Isobus terminal, together with the width of the drill and the width to be treated. A reference line is created from the first driven track, which is then used by the parallel driving system for numbering the current track and for calculating where tramlines need inserting during subsequent passes.
Any drilling pattern sequence can be used, and because the system relies on GPS the correct tramline position is always obtained, regardless of how many times the linkage is raised and lowered for manoeuvring around obstacles or at headlands.
Another new feature available to Isobus-equipped drill users is Headlandcontrol which automatically starts and stops the seeding at headlands, compensating for the time delay between the tractor and the drill crossing the headland border. This feature is compatible with various control systems including John Deere, Muller, and the Lemken CCI terminals but does require either RTK, Starfire 2 or Omnistar XP.
Entry-level coulter optionA new lower-cost option for Lemken’s Compact-Solitair drill is the Optidisc M coulter which has mechanical pressure adjustment in place of the standard hydraulic system.
Pictured left: Lemken product specialist Lena Skowronek demonstrates the manual pressure adjustment system on the entry-level Optidisc M coulter option for the Solitair drill.
Optidisc M provides six levels of adjustment with a maximum pressure of 45kg, compared with the hydraulic system which provides up to 75kg. The entry-level system relies on the operator adjusting each coulter individually using a manual adjuster tool, whereas the hydraulic pressure control is adjusted from the cab and all coulters are adjusted together.
An advantage of Lemken’s system, says the company, is that because depth and pressure are adjusted separately, depth of seeding is unaffected by a change in pressure.
Lemken UK general manager Mark Ormond explained that the Compact Solitair is proving attractive for maize drilling in the UK, its three point linkage mounted coulter bar allowing maize seeder units to be fitted in place of the standard assembly and the large hopper used for fertiliser. A test machine is operating in the UK establishing maize crops this season.
Seedbed preparationLemken’s Zirkon power harrow has been a popular product in the company’s cultivation range for many years and is used as a solo power harrow, as well as in conjunction with the range of seed drills.
A new modular-design top-of-the-range Zirkon 12 has been announced, providing users a greater choice of gearbox and tine equipment, and making it suitable for use with more powerful tractors, compared with its predecessor, the Zirkon 10.
The Zirkon 12 power harrow uses a modular design allowing users to opt for the specification best suiting their needs.
Two types of central gearbox are available offering 330 and 440rpm rotor speeds, both at 1,000rpm PTO speed. A new angular gearbox with two manually-changed gears is a lower-priced option available for folding versions and is suitable for tractors up to 320hp, and an improved dual-shift gearbox allows gear selection by lever and will accommodate tractors up to 408hp.
More powerful tractors generally have higher linkage points and the Zirkon 12 is designed to match these, avoiding the need for damaging sharp PTO angles.
The Zirkon 12 is available in 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0m rigid and 4.0-6.0m folding versions although the rigid models won’t be available until late in 2014.
The quick-change tines on the new Zirkon 12. Larger rotors are fitted to accommodate the heavy duty tines.
Tine options include standard bolted or quick-change and new rotors have been fitted with heavier construction to reduce wear rates and to cope with the extra power. The configuration of four rotors per metre has proved popular on the Zirkon 10 and is retained for the new Zirkon 12.
Increased hydraulic linkage capacity of 3,000kg is provided for use with heavier tools at the rear. A new option available is hydraulic depth control for the first time, allowing adjustment from the cab.Price for the Zirkon 12, 4m folding power harrow with tooth packer roller and quick change tines is 29,154.
Plough control improvedIsobus control of Lemken’s Juwel reversible plough is available in the form of Turncontrol Pro. The company points out that Isobus has been used primarily for seeding and plant protection machinery but that the Turncontrol system on the Juwel plough, with electro-hydraulic swing gear and hydraulic angle adjustment makes it an ideal candidate for Isobus-based operation.
Control can be through the Lemken CCI 200 terminal or the tractor’s own Isobus system, and allows the tractor controls such as joysticks to be assigned to the various plough functions.
Turncontrol Pro for the Juwel 8 plough controls rotation and settings for working angle, width and depth via the hydraulic support wheel and GPS-controlled working width adjustment has also been integrated. Options include front furrow width adjustment, packer operation or setting for the Hydromatik overload protection.
At present Isobus plough control is available just for the Juwel 8 but it will be extended for the Juwel 7 later.
High speed or deep cultivationThe most significant product for many of the UK’s arable farmers was the new Rubin 12 compact disc harrow which can be used for high speed post-harvest or deeper cultivation tasks.
Two rows of 736mm serrated concave discs mean the cultivator will work as deep as a tined cultivator but with increased mixing and crumbling, explains Lemken.
Rigid mounted versions of 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0m working width and semi-mounted folding 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0m models will cater for most farm sizes.
The discs are arranged symmetrically in each row which means the discs pull straight without the tendency to pull to the sides, even at high travel speeds. The disc angle is 20 degrees to the direction of travel for thorough mixing and the front row is angled 16 degrees from vertical, and the second row 14 degrees, allowing full cultivation across the width from a working depth of just 7cm. The front row of discs throws to the right on the right side and to the left on the left, and the rear row pulls the soil back in to the centre. For stubble cultivation, underbody clearance is essential to prevent trash blockages and the legs are curved and shaped to maximise clearance between the discs. The centre discs of each row are offset to allow adequate clearance from the converging disc angle.
A harrow behind the front row of discs ensures soil falls down to the ground in front of the second row of discs and provides intensive mixing and crumbling while a levelling harrow behind the second row levels the surface.
“The new discs are just what are needed by farmers to help combat the increasing issue of black-grass,” explained Mark. “Farmers using min-till crop establishment techniques need to achieve maximum germination of weeds and volunteer plants in their stale seedbeds before drilling, and the Rubin 12 can be set to move just the right amount of soil to achieve thorough mixing. Consolidating the surface for moisture retention is essential to ensure the weed seeds germinate and a heavy rear packer, available for the larger semi-mounted versions, is a significant component in the process,” he added.
For high speed shallow or deeper cultivations the new Rubin 12 disc cultivators are available in rigid and folding versions from 3.0-6.0m.
Mark said the power requirement is typically 50-75hp per metre width and a travel speed in excess of 10kph is required for thorough mixing. “Small diameter discs tend to just scratch a line in the ground at shallow working depths, but the large discs of the Rubin 12 mean more of the disc is in contact with the ground, so at the working angle there is a significant soil moving and mixing effect even at shallow depths. For deep cultivations, down to 20cm, the large discs are heavy and aggressive, allowing excellent penetration even in dry conditions, and while they are suitable for all soil types, an advantage over tines is the reduced clod size in heavy soils,” he said.
A choice of 10 different rear packers is available, and the larger models, which have an axle between the rear harrow, can be used with the packer removed. Mark said that the heavy PPW rear packer is likely to be the most popular choice offering even consolidation.
On the smaller models, a single rear transport wheel can be specified to enable heavy rear packers to be used. Mechanically linked to the tractor’s rear linkage, this wheel moves down as the cultivator is lifted, taking the weight of the rear packer and transferring weight forward onto the tractor’s steering wheels for road transport. In the field there is the option to lock the frame of the cultivator making the frame rigid, to maximise weight transfer onto the rear tractor wheels.
The Rubin 12, 3m is priced at 22,100, and the transport wheel costs 2,540. The 4m folding version with the profile packer roller, expected to be the most popular in the UK, is priced at 46,262.
Consistent depth and optimised tractionA solution to the problem of uneven cultivation depth on undulating ground is the Contourtrac system, introduced by Lemken for its Karat semi-mounted cultivator. At 8m long when working over crests or dips the cultivating depth can alter, working too shallow over low spots and deeper than needed when it encounters high spots.
Consistent depth control, even on undulating land, is possible with the Contourtrac system available for the Karat semi-mounted cultivator.
Contourtrac uses an additional hydraulic ram behind the tine section to adjust the position of the rear disc/roller unit, enabling the machine to pivot over its length, following land contours. Electronic measurement bolts monitor load on the support wheels at each side and if the pressure changes from a pre-determined value then the length of the adjuster ram automatically increases or reduces the load on the rear packer. The system is self-regulating in that the operator has only to set the desired working depth once prior to work in order to calibrate the system.
Additional benefits are faster entry of the tines in hard, dry working conditions plus additional weight transfer to the tractor optimising traction.
The new system is an option expected to appeal to those with undulating ground and will be available for 2015.
“The Karat can be used for single-pass deep cultivations or with wide wings for shallow first-pass cultivations after harvest to encourage weeds to chit,” said Mark. “There have also been excellent results from growers using the cultivator to establish oilseed rape. The seed is spread behind the discs on to level ground and the rear packer then firms the seed into the ground ensuring moisture retention,” he said.