Machinery News

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Technology on show at Grassland & Muck

The Grassland & Muck event is held every three years and is an opportunity for anyone to see the latest machines at work

The Grassland & Muck event is held every three years and is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in grass cutting, conditioning, harvesting or storage equipment, or muck and slurry spreading machinery to see the latest machines at work. David Williams reports. 
The two-day event was held on 76ha (190 acres) of grass at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, and attracted visitors from all over Europe, and further afield. Weather on the first day this year was bright and sunny but, on the second day, heavy showers made working conditions more challenging. An attraction of the event is that a wide variety of machinery is demonstrated and examples of the latest technology are at work, to suit all sizes of farm.  Organiser RASE reported that approximately 13,500 visitors attended the event and that 240 exhibitors displayed and demonstrated more than 20m worth of machinery. Claas was demonstrating most models in its green harvest range. Green harvest and forager product specialist Dean Cottey said there had been a lot of interest in the balers at the event. The Rollant 374 and 375 round balers are always popular, with features and build quality to suit farmers and contractors, and we have been busy dealing with enquiries for the 400 series, which is a favourite machine for heavy contracting use. Interest has been for baling hay, silage and straw. Quadrant large square balers are also proving popular, the 2100 model making smaller bales which are well suited to hay, and the larger 3300 versions attracting interest for baling straw as well as for hay and silage, he said.
Also at work was the first Axion 830 C-Matic tractor to enter the UK, new 800-series models having been launched late last year with CVT transmission for the first time.  
New models from Merlos Turbofarmer 2 telescopic handler range were working for the first time in the UK, on one of the silage clamps. Three new models will be available; the 38.7 and 38.10, both with 3.8t capacity lifting to 7- and 10m respectively and the 42.7, which will lift 4.2t to 7m. New modular construction will allow greater flexibility in terms of specification options, says the company, as well as faster production which will improve lead times. The 38.7 is powered by a 120hp Deutz engine, the 38.10 has the choice of 120 or 156hp and the largest 42.7 is available only with the 156hp power unit. The new design has provided space for a larger cab, which at just over 1m wide is claimed to offer more space and better visibility than has been available on any previous models. Noise levels are reduced by up to 3dB compared with the models they replace.  The combination of the new engines and the computer-controlled Eco-Power transmission, with its three operating modes; maximum torque, high speed transport or standard, is said to have reduced fuel use during trials by up to 18 per cent, offering users potential savings up to 3,000 per year, for typical 1,000hr/year use. Other new features are a cooling fan which can be reversed instantly regardless of engine speed, to keep the radiator clear of debris. A PTO is an option, with 540 or 1,000rpm. Full production starts in September and the new range will eventually replace the current TF models in the UK. Prices start at approximately 55,000 for the 38.7 model. 
Working for the first time in the UK was the unique Lely Tigo 50PR forage loader wagon. A hydraulic movable bulkhead is used to compact the crop and, when the trailer is almost full, it can be moved forward towards the drawbar providing 6m3 extra loading volume. The main advantage is its compact size which makes manoeuvring easier says the company and there is improved weight distribution. For unloading, the bulkhead can be used to push the crop towards the rear, assisting the floor chains for faster emptying. The 1.9m camless pick-up reel and feed rotor, with its 25mm tines, are said to provide excellent chop and crop flow. Blade removal and changing is quick and simple with just one central lock releasing all the blades. The price is 69,250.

Pictured on the Kongskilde JF-Stoll demonstration area is the GrassBots robot mower. Still in its prototype stage, it can be operated by remote control, or it can function autonomously, the operator setting the boundaries of the area to be cut and the on-board computer calculating the most efficient route to complete the work. An on-board camera can identify obstructions and stop the mower working until an operator checks the image on a screen and determines whether the mower should continue cutting. The idea behind the project is to cut grass in sensitive low-lying areas where larger machines would be unable to operate, and allowing the grass to be harvested for biogas. Most of the development work has been carried out by Danish companies, working with Kongskilde, during the past two years. A robotic baler is used to collect the grass. Power for the mower is provided by a 4.4-litre Caterpillar diesel engine. Kongskilde development engineer Alea Scovill, pictured with the mower, said the project is providing an opportunity to develop more user-friendly control screens, with potential benefits for all the companys products and is also helping to evaluate the use of robotic vehicles for larger field-scale operations.  
The first of Deutz-Fahrs new 5C series of tractors was on show. There are four 5C models from 90120hp, of which three will be available in the UK. Power is provided by a 3.6-litre Deutz engine equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), and tractors have a semi-powershift gearbox providing 60 ratios. The footbrake pedal can also be set to operate the clutch simplifying operations such as loader work. The tractors also have a double displacement steering function which, at speeds below 15kph, reduces the number of turns of the steering wheel needed to turn lock-to-lock, saving operator effort during yard work or when turning on headlands. Deutz-Fahr area sales manager for the south and south-west Jason Hoare, pictured with the new tractor, said it was creating a lot of interest. It is an ideal tractor for smaller mixed farms, he explained, with features for yard work but a high specification for arable tasks. Prices are from 47,000.

The RV4216 FlexiWrap baler-wrapper was the star attraction on Vicons working area. Features include a novel bale transfer system between the chamber and the wrapper table which provides fast but smooth operation. The wrapper table moves forward to the back door as the bale is ejected, and as the wrapping process begins the table returns to its usual position for wrapping to be completed. Two versions are available; the 4216 which makes bales up to 1.65m diameter and the 4260 for bales up to 2.00m diameter. The new balers are available now and the 4216, expected to be the best seller in the UK, is priced at approximately 80,000.  The company was enjoying a busy show commented Vicon sales manager David Furber. The new balers we introduced three years ago have gained a superb reputation for making quality bales with high density which are ideal for transport, he said. There is a lot of interest here at the show in all our equipment and we have received a lot of praise for the new FlexiWrap baler wrapper working here today, especially from contractors.

Machines exhibited on Teagles stand included the new TSB heavy duty mower. Designed originally for chopping brassicas it has a high body providing plenty of clearance and long cutting hammers which provide a strong airflow to lift material. Teagle sales director Tom Teagle explained that the mowers tip speed is typically 40-45m/s, much faster than traditional mowers, making it ideal for cutting fibrous materials such as rushes and weeds, but which also means the mower provides a very clean finish on grass and set-aside. An optional hydraulic hood control allows the operator to select between thorough mulching and quick ejection of cut material.  Available in cutting widths from 1.66.0m, Tom said the most popular 2.5m rigid model costs approximately 6,500 on-farm.  Demonstrated in the muck spreading area were Teagle Titan muck spreaders, launched last year, and which have proved immediately successful in the market achieving sales more than 20 per cent over target, said Tom.  Pictured with the new TSB mower at the event are (l-r) Teagle area sales manager Chris White and Steve Offland with Tom Teagle.

JCBs latest 3000-series Fastracs were shown for the first time in the UK. Meeting Tier 4 final emissions requirements, the new models have the same Sisu 7.4-litre engine as their predecessors, but have a different exhaust after-treatment system and on-farm trials have shown excellent efficiency and economy, explained the company. Additional new features include dual-start gears, allowing the operator to select two alternative gears to move away from stationary, for example with a full or empty trailer; updated cruise control programming means the previous set speeds are memorised and retained even after the ignition is switched off – previously they had to be re-set; new software controls the Xtra-Drive function, which automatically activates the clutch when the brake pedal is depressed; PTO start/stop can be activated using buttons on the rear fender and options include full hydraulic flow control on the fenders. However, from a distance, the most obvious difference between the old and the new models is yellow wheels replacing silver, bringing the Fastrac into line with most other JCB products.    Brand new on the Landini stand was this 4-series model which is the first of the new range in the UK. Replacing the Alpine series it is lightweight and compact and available with power outputs up to 90, 99 or 107hp from Deutz 4-cylinder engines. Options include mechanical or power-shift shuttle and 12 or 24 speeds, with a further creep option providing up to 32 speeds. The transmission and front axle are manufactured by Argo. Hydraulic pump options are 44 or 57 litres/min, the flow all available for hydraulic operations as a separate 32-litre/min pump feeds the steering. Rear lift capacity is 2,900kg with an optional upgrade to 3,300kg, and control is mechanical or electronic.
 
The new 4-series, with its extensive range of specification levels and options, is expected to appeal to livestock and small mixed farms, and its compact dimensions, in particular the low cab height, means it will also be a popular choice for fruit growers suggests AgriArgo UK southern area sales manager Steve Cann.
 Vogelsang was demonstrating slurry loading and spreading equipment mounted on this Claas Xerion 3800 Saddle Trac. The SGT slurry system incorporates a Vogelsang lobe pump capable of pumping up to 9,000 litres/min, PowerFill for rapid filling through the 8-in filling arm and a 32m SwingMax dribble bar, also capable of operating at 24, 28 and 30m working widths. Total capacity is 32m3, 16 in the saddle tank and 16 in the trailed tanker. During discharging the trailed tanker empties first to keep weight in the front unit for stability. The outfit had been borrowed from its owner RC Baker, an agricultural contractor based near Banbury, Oxfordshire. 
A self-contained tracked fencing machine was shown for the first time by Protech Machinery. Complete with its transport trailer it weighs in at under 3.5t making it suitable for contractors working across large areas. Standard specification includes a 300kg hammer and a rock spike.  Power is provided by a 48hp 4-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine and all controls are at the rear. Rubber 400mm tracks make it ideal for steep or soft, sensitive land areas. The mast is telescopic and posts up to 12ft can be handled. Hydraulic side-shift provides up to 800mm of side movement.  A load platform means the vehicle can also be used to transport posts to site and a wire fencing roll holder is supplied.  Pictured with the new fencer, which sells for 27,000, are Protech Machinery directors Steve Craddock and Andy Hooper. The trailer is priced at 2,500.

New Manitou MLT634 and MLT741 telescopic handlers were on show. The MLT741 is an additional model in the range whereas the MLT634 and the MLT735 replace previous versions with the same name. The most significant changes are new Deutz power units conforming to Tier 4 interim emissions regulations, but there is also a new cab interior, better working lights and sleeker styling. The new models are available now. Pictured with the latest MLT634 are (l-r) Manitou area sales manager for the Midlands Owen Buttle, marketing supervisor Sarah Hunter and managing director Ivor Binns.

The spreading demonstration included an excellent selection of spreader makes and models.

Forager World specialises in the sale of used forage harvesters and, since it started trading in 1989, has sold over 1,000 machines. Sales manager Roy Cansdale was on the companys stand and said most enquiries had been from contractors, although there was increasing interest generally from farmers keen to upgrade from smaller self-propelled or trailed machines. On display was a new 36-blade V-Max chopping cylinder, designed to chop maize finely for use in AD plants, and which can be fitted to Claas 900-series machines of any age.
 The Farmers Guide stand was busy throughout the two days attracting existing readers and new readers applying to receive the magazine. Pictured at the event are (l-r) Paddy Reed who farms at Higham, Suffolk; Charlotte Alexander and Joanna Blower of Farmers Guide, and farmer Peter Larwood of ET Larwood & Sons, Snetterton, Norfolk.


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