Holmer’s new flagship self-propelled sugar beet harvester, the tri-axle Terra Dos T4-40, was demonstrated to potential customers
Holmer’s new flagship self-propelled sugar beet harvester, the tri-axle Terra Dos T4-40, was demonstrated to potential customers, as well as UK and European press at an event in Norfolk, by UK importer Standen Reflex. Farmers Guide machinery editor David Williams was there.The Holmer T4-40 is the company’s first three-axle beet harvester.Packing as much lifting, cleaning and carrying capability in to as compact a space as possible, while minimising compaction and soil damage is a constant challenge for beet harvester manufacturers. Holmer’s concept machine is the first from the manufacturer to be equipped with three axles, six flotation tyres sharing the 49t gross vehicle weight, while its ability to run with its main chassis at an angle to the header (Terra Dos) allows its weight to be spread evenly across a wider area. Front tyres are 800/70R38 which are designed to carry the load at just 1.6bar (22psi) while at the rear four 1050/50R32 operate at 1.9 bar (28psi).
A feature of the design is the centre axle which is fixed. “The fixed axle is beneath the unloading elevator and this helps maintain stability,” explains Standen Reflex Holmer sales manager Alex Mathias. “The rear axle has hydraulic suspension and pressure is adjusted constantly to ensure the load is carried evenly between the wheels, and to provide maximum traction.”
Power for the huge machine is provided by a Mercedes Benz 6-cylinder engine with 625 maximum horsepower. “The engine was selected for its high torque and economy,” explains Alex. “It produces very high torque at a low running speed which reduces noise, wear and fuel consumption. The engine management system ensures only as much power as is needed is produced, so when it is required, for travelling uphill or unloading, the engine delivers extra power to meet the demand.” Trials in the UK have shown average fuel consumption to be 30-32 litres per hectare.Power is provided by a Mercedes Benz six-cylinder 625hp (max) engine, with variable power output to match the demand, saving fuel and reducing noise.
A direct-drive transmission delivers power to the wheels, and without the need for a transfer box is claimed to be very efficient. On the road, the harvester is capable of 40kph, and a 2wd transport mode is said to improve efficiency.
Beet are lifted using walking shears and a feature of the new design lift head is that individual shears can be pushed down hydraulically, to lift any rows of beet which are lower than the rest, reducing the number of missed beet. Between 45 and 55cm of travel adjustment is provided. Holmer’s DynaCut high speed response scalper system adjusts rapidly for beet of variable size, to take off only as much of the crown as is required under whole beet delivery guidelines.
After lifting, the beet travel over spiral cleaning rollers then between the wheels on a 900mm transfer web, which together with a portal front axle design provides a 40 per cent increased capacity over Holmer’s previous flagship model, the Terra Dos T3. Turbines clean the beet, and are inclined front to rear so the beet are rolled ‘downhill’ as they travel through the system, providing more aggressive cleaning.
A 1,000mm ring web lifts the beet from the cleaning turbines to the 30t tank, and the large discharge elevator empties the tank in just 55 seconds.With a 30t capacity tank, all up weight is approximately 49t, the weight spread between six massive flotation tyres.
For the new harvester, Holmer has designed and manufactured its own cab, which, with its large curved front screen, offers excellent visibility all around. The cab is set back further in relation to the topper than on previous models, allowing the operator a very good view down to the front, and the cleaning table, to monitor beet flow across the cleaning rollers.
The cab is spacious and well laid out, and very quiet, the engine at the rear some eight metres away. The control system is the same as that used on previous models, although on production machines the current screen and separate controls will be replaced by a touch-screen control system. The ride was very smooth when harvesting and when travelling at higher speeds across the bumpy headlands.
There was a good attendance of farmers and contractors from across the UK, many current Holmer users as well as some using competitor brands, keen to see what Holmer was offering.
Wisbech (Cambridgeshire)-based farmer and contractor AJ & SR Mann was at the event, and now using its fifth Holmer, lifts approximately 1,000ha (2,500 acres) of beet per year. “We were looking for a tanker harvester for the 1997 harvest, and as our previous supplier couldn’t offer one, we moved to Holmer,” explains Andrew Mann. “We bought a refurbished model that year and having found the build quality and reliability good, as well as finding it excellent to use, we have stuck with the brand.
“We are very impressed with the new machine. Extra space around the lifter and rollers means there is less likelihood of blocking and as we have some very heavy soils as well as some very light soils which can ‘push-up’, we can see that as an added benefit.”Stephen Mann is the main operator; “I really like the Holmer harvesters,” he says, “they are comfortable, well designed and offer very good visibility, and apart from routine maintenance there isn’t much that needs doing. My tungsten-tipped lifting shears last approximately 2,000ha (5,000 acres) per set, but conditions in recent years have been quite kind.”The team from AJ & SR Mann; (l-r) tractor operator Martin Bass, Andrew Mann and harvester operator Stephen Mann.
Stephen commented that the very wet lifting conditions meant the company still had some beet to be harvested at the time of the demonstration in late February. “Conditions have been challenging, but we have gained extra work and on one farm the customer’s own six-row harvester was stuck but we were able to work, and ended up harvesting around him.
That sort of situation really shows the advantages of the Terra Dos system. Farmers love the level finish it leaves and we couldn’t go back now to an in-line wheel system. In our first year with the Terra Dos design we were running a standard machine too, and when farmers saw one working beside the other, they only wanted the offset wheel system, so we invested in a second Terra Dos machine,” he adds.
Also at the demonstration was Norfolk contractor Oliver Arnold with some of his team. He began offering a sugar beet harvesting service for the 2012 lifting season, following requests from local farmers. “We bought a Holmer Terra Dos T3 which had worked three seasons and it has lifted 700ha (1,800 acres) this season in some very difficult working conditions due to the wet weather,” comments Oliver. “I am looking at increasing the amount of beet we lift so I am considering a second machine, and was keen to see the new T4-40 in action. For a pre-production machine it was superb. The design is excellent, and very effective. The larger front tyres would be an advantage, and the extra rear axle spreads the weight effectively. Norfolk contractor Oliver Arnold was at the event with some of his team. Pictured are (l-r) Tim Muttock, Matt Davey, Tom Lousen, Oliver Arnold and Philip White.
“I feel that if we did invest in the new machine, then it would have to run on a mouse lorry loading system at least 70 per cent of the time, and with its 30t capacity tank, compared with the 20t capacity of the current machine, we would unload directly on the headland on to the mouse heap, rather than use any trailers. The biggest problem we have in terms of soil damage is the ruts left by trailers and if we can manage without them and use the harvester for transport within the field then it will protect the ground and cause less compaction. The weight transfer system is very clever and I feel the new harvester would suit us well,” he explains.
Oliver says his current machine has been very reliable. “It has one operator most of the time, and he looks after it too. Apart from one breakdown this season caused by the very harsh working conditions, it has required very little maintenance and the driver, Philip White, loves it.”
The Holmer Terra Dos T4-40 harvester is expected to be available in time for the 2014-15 beet harvesting season with an anticipated price tag of between 460,000 and 480,000. Other news from the company is that another new model is currently in development and likely to be available for 2016. The T430 is a two-axle model and will use many of the new features as well as technology from the T4-40. The view from the cab of the toppers and beet lifting unit is superb. The cleaning turbines are inclined for aggressive cleaning. The Terra Dos system spreads the weight evenly across a wider width, leaving a level finish, and reducing soil damage. A spiral roller cleaning unit feeds the beet through a wider trace from the lifter to the turbines. Standen Reflex Holmer sales manager Alex Mathias.