The question regarding the availability of the Fendt Katana forage harvester in the UK has been answered
The ‘will it or won’t it?’ question regarding the availability of the Fendt Katana forage harvester in the UK has been answered with a demonstration of the machine in Somerset, and the announcement by the manufacturer that it is ready to take orders. David Williams was at the UK press launch.Fendt’s Katana made its debut at Agritechnica in 2006, and in 2010 it was demonstrated to the public for the first time in Germany. In 2011, the first full production machines were manufactured, but these were available only to German users through a contract hire scheme, as Fendt wanted to retain ownership and access to usage data with a view to further improvements and development.The first official selling season was 2012, machines available for purchase only in Germany and France and in its first season the Katana took more than 43 per cent of the French market sales. While it had appeared unlikely that the Katana would be seen in the UK for several more years, Fendt announced in late May this year that the high specification forager is now available to order, having expanded its availability to users in Italy, and the UK.The Katana features a high standard specification, with few options.At present only one version is available; with 650hp and Fendt explained that while the 400-550hp sector currently accounts for the majority of sales, the trend is for users to upgrade to more powerful machines when they replace, and the Katana, with its powerful engine will come into consideration for many buyers. Asked whether Fendt will be offering more powerful engine options later, company representatives would neither confirm nor deny, but Agritechnica, which is being held later this year, would provide the ideal opportunity for the company to announce further options within the range.Fendt has appointed a specialist team to look after the Katana in the UK, to make sure support is available to users. “We have two specialists; Alan Haycocks, who will look after the north of the country and Andrew Davies who will be based in the south,” explained Fendt national sales manager Richard Shelton. “For this season, they will each be living with one of the two demonstration machines, which will ensure they both have complete knowledge of the product. Alan has been working on the forage harvester project with Agco almost since its inception, and Andrew comes from a farming background and has also been involved with a contracting business.”The two Katanas will be demonstrating for the whole season, except when one of them will be displayed at the Highland Show.Rather than make the Katana available to all existing Fendt dealers, the company has selected six to handle the product initially, for their locations as well as the service back-up offered. These include Ross Agri Services with McNae, RVW Pugh, Redlynch Agricultural Engineering with Drews of Dinton, and Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers.Power is provided by a 15.93l Mercedes MTU V8 engine using SCR (Adblue) to meet Tier 4i emissions regulations. 480kW (653hp) is produced at 1,800rpm and electronic engine control is said to ensure efficient operation.The Mercedes V8 power unit is longitudinally-mounted between the rear wheels and a large transfer gearbox in front of the engine provides a two-speed drive via the belt pulley. Unlike most foragers which have the engine mounted transversely across the rear, the Katana’s engine is longitudinally mounted low in the chassis which provides ease of access for maintenance as well as a low centre of gravity. At the front of the engine Fendt has installed a two-speed transmission system which allows the engine speed to be reduced when working in lighter conditions. Range selection is from the in-cab terminal. For maize harvesting at full power the engine operates at 2,000rpm and for grass, where less power is needed, at 1,600rpm, the chopper always operating at 1,150rpm. There is also an automatic mode, in which the travel speed adjusts automatically to optimise power use by keeping the machine loaded to capacity. Fendt claims significant fuel savings result from its system.For cooling, clean air is drawn in from above and through a large radiator screen, after which it blows out past the engine, keeping it clean and free of dust and dirt build-up.As would be expected from Fendt, forward speed is fully variable using hydraulic wheel motors and 4wd is provided, using single hydraulic drive to the rear axle, with an automatic rear diff-lock and traction control standard. Active hydro-pneumatic rear axle suspension, as used on Fendt tractors, allows the rear to be raised and lowered manually.Access for maintenance is excellent.Feed and chop
The demonstration machines were both fitted with Kemper P3000 3m headers, which Fendt says are known for their performance and durability. A unique feature of Fendt’s harvester is the lateral rotation of the header provided by the mount system, which allows the header to move independently of the harvester on undulating ground. The circular ring mounts which allow the rotation also maintain clearance for material up the intake elevator regardless of the header’s angle relative to the harvester. For wider maize headers a pin locks the system fixing its position. At present maize header options are 8- or 10-row, but it is likely a 12-row will be available in the future.The header is hydraulically driven from a motor on the chopper unit which allows header speed to be adjusted independently of the travel speed.Six hydraulic-driven feed rollers compact the material and provide an even feed to the knife cylinder, and the length of chop is adjusted by altering the speed of the feed rollers. The knife cylinder is claimed by Fendt to be the largest on the market at 800mm wide and with a diameter of 785mm. The drum has 28 knives arranged in a v-configuration to centre the crop and provide an even flow, and Fendt says there will be options of more and fewer knives in the future. Chop length is variable from 3.8-20.7mm or with only half the knives selected, from 8-42mm. Chop length is adjusted on the move from the driver’s Varioterminal and two pre-set length options can be stored for quick retrieval. The intake can be reversed without reversing the header, a convenient feature for maize to prevent loss of the crop from the pick-up. The metal detector is positioned ahead of the feed rollers, providing as much time as possible for the header and feed rollers to stop before the chopper is damaged.Automatic one-touch sharpening of the blades is standard and carried out from the cab, and adjustment of the shear bar is made using push-buttons on the front mudguard, the operator listening for gentle blade to shear bar contact.A corn cracker is fitted as standard, the assumption being that most harvesters of this power output will at some time be used for maize harvesting. A clever feature is that the cracker can be swung clear of the forage chute when not required, a grass chute replacing it. The changeover uses electro-hydraulic power, the operator simply opening the side door, and operating the changeover mechanism which then swaps the components automatically and quickly, and Fendt says this provides the optimum solution for those with maize to cut during the grass harvest. For extended periods of grass harvesting, the chute is removed completely to save wear on the drive belts and this requires the disconnection of four bolts and three oil pipes, and is said to take approximately 30 minutes.A feature of the Katana is the ease with which the maize cracker can be swung in and out of work, at the touch of a button, making life easier for those with maize and grass to cut. The demonstration machine will be working entirely in grass for the next few months so the maize cracker had been completely removed (above right). With the grass chute swung clear, the accelerator can be seen. The cracker uses a pair of 265mm diameter intermeshing rollers, each made up of rows of individual v-shaped rippled discs. This is said to provide a significantly enlarged friction surface compared with competitor systems and beae both sets of rollers are the same diameter, rotating at the same speed, there is no deceleration of the crop as it passes through so forage flow rate is maintained which Fendt claims saves fuel and optimises output. In the event of damage to individual discs, they can be swapped with others on the shaft, saving downtime.For whole-crop harvesting Fendt is recommending that the maize cracker be used, to optimise forage quality, and for the crop it recommends the Zurn 6.2m header.The crop accelerator has a diameter of 550mm and the feed roller has a width of 770mm. For additive application Fendt is offering the Harvest Tec system as an option. The discharge chute has built-in protection from impact, swinging back if it encounters an obstruction.Operator environment
The Visio5 cab was designed specifically for the Katana and offers excellent visibility all around, the low-mounted engine allowing the engine hood to curve down to the rear. Visibility is maintained by windscreen wipers on the front and rear screens, and side windows and the rear-view mirrors are electrically adjustable and heated. Climate control air conditioning is standard.Access to the wide-opening cab door is easy, the decent-sized steps fitted with good handrails providing security even with wet boots. Integral step lighting provides added safety for those working long hours. The seat is comfortable and the steering wheel and column have three-way adjustment to suit the seating position. The p enger seat is a good size, well-padded and comfortable and is sufficiently far back that the operator’s view for unloading to the left is not badly affected when the seat is occupied.The control armrest is new, but very similar to those fitted in Fendt’s latest tractors, incorporating the Vario terminal. The joystick is also similar, and although originally the intention had been to standardise completely with the tractors, it was found preferable to use a harvester version, with more controls and individually programmable functions within easy fingers’ reach.The terminal incorporates an automatic ‘load limit’ function which will maintain a constant load in varying thicknesses of swath, a clear indicator displaying whether the Katana’s optimal performance is being under or over-utilised, and adjusting forward speed to suit. The pick-up speed can also be linked for automatic control, or the operator can easily override the system for manual operation. Other functions include a rapid spout movement facility, to allow quick clearance from in-field obstructions, and automatic spout parking for transport.The Vario terminal provides clear information for the operator, is logical to use and set up and takes little time to get used to.Test drive
Although at the demonstration we were only able to ride in the cab while harvesting, the Fendt demonstrators keeping hold of the controls themselves, Farmers Guide did have the opportunity last year to take a test drive, and although the machine wasn’t harvesting at the time it did provide good experience of the controls and manoeuvrability. The new Fendt boasts a very tight turning circle, a benefit for tight headland turns, and its traction control system, with sensitivity adjustable by the operator, helps prevent damage to sensitive grassland. The joystick control is very progressive and easy to use, and the cab very quiet. The test drive included an uneven farm track, but travelling close to the maximum 40kph road speed the suspension soaked up the bumps effectively and the ride was very good. The large mirrors make manoeuvring safe and easy and it took very little time to get used to the machine in a confined area and to accurately judge clearances.Markus Schaefer (left) has considerable experience of the Katana, having been test driving and demonstrating the machines in Germany for approximately 18 months and he was at the event showing what the new machine could do. “I have been fortunate enough to be able to test the Katana against competitor machines and I am very impressed with what we are offering,” he said. “It is easy to handle and operate, the view from the cab is very good and the ease of set up for different crops and different conditions is straightforward. The performance is excellent. I like the cab; there is a lot of storage space, the seat is comfortable and the armrest controls easy to use, and the large mirrors are very good in the field and on the road. The joystick is comfortable, everything comes to hand and the three lower buttons can have up to 11 assignable functions, to suit the operator preference which all the demonstrators have appreciated.
“I have tried the harvester in grass, maize and whole-crop and one of the most noticeable differences between our machine and those of competitors is the efficiency of the cracker. With it in use, it just doesn’t slow the crop flow when on other machines the rate of operation is affected. It is quiet and smooth, and I enjoy driving it,” he added.The grass silage crop used for the Somerset demonstration was surprisingly thick, the week previous to the event having provided ideal growing conditions, and although the first cut of the year in Somerset would usually be expected to yield much more grass there was plenty to lift, chop and load, and, at high travel speeds, to keep the 653hp occupied.Visibility from the cab into the trailer is good and an option which will be useful for large silage gangs is the ability to use a wireless link between the spout-mounted camera and screens in the cabs of the tractors along-side allowing tractor operators to gain an overhead view of trailers during loading.
Access for maintenance is good, the rear side covers lifting up and away from the machine on parallel linkages, and, in the raised position, forming side hand rails for those needing to access the top of the harvester for spout maintenance for example. The rear rubber mudguards unclip and are easily removed allowing even better engine access and the cab steps which are usually tucked in behind the left hand front wheel swing out, making the hydraulics and drives accessible.The Katana has a centralised automatic greasing system, and almost all daily checks are completed from the ground. The low engine position means oil checks and changes are easily carried out, and the cooling system which draws clean air from above the machine is said to require little attention. The 1,100-litre diesel and 250-litre Adblue tanks are both filled from ground level.Availability and price
Fendt plans to build 200 Katanas this year, of which eight will be available for sale to UK users. At the time of Fendt’s UK press demonstration, orders had already been placed for four machines and, with the on-farm demonstration campaign starting prior to June, the allocation is expected to be taken quickly. The price is 378,000 which includes a standard five-year warranty for the first 10 machines supplied, and a full finance package is available.