Krone has expanded its self-propelled forage harvester line-up with new models available for 2016
Krone has expanded its self-propelled forage harvester line-up with new models available for 2016. A UK demonstration, in late October in Shropshire, also included news of upgrades to current models, launched last year, and to the company’s range of balers and mowers. David Williams reports.
Forage harvester range expands
Krone introduced its Big X range of forage harvesters in 2000, and innovations such as VariStream, launched in 2009, have been recognised with awards for the extra productivity they offer.
The global self-propelled forage harvester market is approximately 2,800 units per year, and Krone’s 20 percent market share target means production and sales are expected to rise from the current 300 units per year to 560. Huge investment in a new dedicated Big X production line which entered service in 2014, and with a capacity of 600 units per year is in anticipation of future sales growth.
Krone offers two sizes of forage harvester across nine models; those with a smaller drum width including the 480 and 580 machines launched in 2014, with two new models; a 530 and 630 being added for 2016. The two new machines allow Krone to offer a choice of two models – the 530 and 580 within the largest sector of the market, with a choice of four models available between 500-700hp.
There is also an additional model added to the larger forager line-up, with the 770 slotting in between the current 700 and 850 models.
All Krone harvesters are built around the ideal 0.75-1.25hp to 1mm crop flow width, points out the company, with a minimum 0.75hp/mm achieved by all models in the range.
Key features on all Krone harvesters include VariStream, which incorporates a spring-loaded drum and accelerator bottom which allows the opening to adapt to suit the size of the swath, while maintaining peak engine loads with reduced risk of blockage.
Six feed rollers hold the crop firm as it is presented to the chopping drum, to prevent any movement of the material which could reduce the efficiency of the chop.
Powersplit is also on all models except the Big X 480 and 530, and allows automatic or manual adjustment of the engine power output to suit conditions. EcoPower is used when full power isn’t needed, saving fuel and wear and tear. Xpower provides full power for tough conditions.
Krone’s Ground Drive system uses Bosch Rexroth wheel motors with planetary reduction boxes, and offers a stepless speed range from 0-40kph. Three travel modes are available; TC for grass – which is tuned to avoid wheel slip on sensitive grass sward, TC for corn – which allows limited slip, and slip control off. On the smaller 630mm drum range, the wheel motors are arranged eccentrically allowing the rotation of the reduction hubs to alter the relative position of the wheel centres to the harvester body and keeping the machine level regardless of which wheel size option is fitted.
The new Big X 530 is powered by an MTU 6R 1300, 12.8-litres capacity engine producing 530hp, with 500 available under the constant XPower mode while chopping. The Big X 630 has a larger MTU 6R 1500, 15.6-litre power unit producing 626hp, with 596hp available within the XPower mode while chopping. Both machines use SCR (Adblue) to meet emissions regulations.
A new driveline, using one main belt to drive all major components, offers efficiency improvements.
The two new models have a 630mm drum width and there is PowerSplit on the 630 machine for fuel savings when conditions allow. A MaxFlow drum is a new feature and is fitted to both new models. It has a large, newly designed, 660mm diameter cutterhead which provides twice the carrying space for chopped crop compared to the conventional drum design.
The new foragers are designed for dual-use, producing forage for livestock and fine-chopped silage for use in AD plants and the standard 36-knife drum can chop maize to 17mm or, with half the blades fitted, can chop grass to 34mm.
Another new innovation for the smaller range is the VariQuick maize cracker design which allows the conditioner to be moved hydraulically, using a hand pump, in and out of its work position, reducing the time needed to swap between crops and is expected to be a feature popular with contractors. This offers greater ease of use than the previous design which relied on the operator lifting the cracker out when it wasn’t needed.
A new cracker roller option has been added this year, with 105 teeth, extending the range to include four options. Most UK users opt for 144 or 166 teeth versions, according to the company.
StreamControl is a new option available for all Krone harvesters within both size ranges. This allows the back plate of the accelerator to be adjusted from the cab, reducing or increasing contact with the crop, and allowing the throw distance and pressure to be adjusted. When higher pressure isn’t needed the plate is moved out, reducing the power requirement as well as wear and tear.
A major feature on the smaller models is wishbone suspension on the rear axle. This is standard and used on both 2wd and 4wd variants. Apart from improved operator comfort, the wishbone suspension provides space for lower mounting of the engine, reducing the centre of gravity and also maintains the wheels’ movement up and down within a vertical plane, providing space for a tight 50 degree steering angle, allowing immediate return down the next row without a large headland or space for shunting needed.
Increased fuel capacity is provided on the new models, with an optional 230 litre auxiliary tank supplementing the main 1,220 litre fuel tank providing almost 1,500 litres for longer periods without refuelling. The Adblue tank is at the rear of the machine, and easy to get to. A silage additive tank with 275 litres capacity is fitted on the right hand side of the cab above the front wheel and a controlled application system can be set to automatically adjust rates between 0.5-4.5 litres/min according to the crop throughput.
Krone’s own cab is fitted, with features similar to those of other models in the range, but a new aid for drivers is an all-new touch-screen terminal, which will also be a feature on larger models in the future.
The headlights and work lights are all LED for improved operation at night, and extra LED lights are available as an option.
Autolube is standard, and controlled from the terminal. Maintenance at the front end is simplified with a new design allowing either end of the feed rollers to be removed, either with the header or separately, for ease of access to the drum and feed rollers. A handy air line is now included in the standard specification with plug-in points around the machine allowing it to reach all areas.
The header mounting system of the new models uses a new pivoting design and there is the option of hydraulic locking and a quick coupler, saving time when the header is removed or mounted.
Larger models updated
The larger models in Krone’s Big X range have also been updated and there is an all-new Big X 770 with new styling and a new spout design as well as a drum brake capable of stopping the chopping drum in under 10 seconds.
The Big X 770 is powered by a 16.16-litre, V8 engine, producing 753hp, with 729hp available for chopping in the XPower chopping mode. With EcoPower activated the output drops to 510hp, saving fuel and wear and tear. Diesel tank capacity is the same as on other models in Krone’s large forager line-up, at 960 litres and there is an optional 300-litre auxiliary tank available. A 300-litre silage additive tank is an option.
The new MaxFlow drum is fitted, as on the new 530 and 630 models in the smaller range, and StreamControl is an option.
The in-cab terminal is a large 10in unit, with button control. The new styling includes a front-end guard and protection for the vulnerable side mirrors as well as more effective warning panels, for increased visibility on the road. Mudguards and steps are new, similar to those of the smaller models, with LED safety lighting. To activate the lights, the operator just presses a handy button near the base and the lights come on, and remain on for several minutes.
The new spout design includes a square end for grass, and a conical end for maize and provides easier control for the operator. The new MaxFlow chopping cylinder is capable of dealing with a greater flow of product than the previous drum design, so the new spout outlets make it easier for the operator to control the throw direction and accuracy. Spout extensions for compatibility with 10, 12 and 14-row headers are available, with quick couplers used to secure the sections.
A redesigned flat pre-cleaner supplies clean air for the engine and improves the rear view with its lower overall height.
Another popular update will be the improved storage, with new external compartments provided for tools and spare parts.
For improved farm record keeping Krone is offering a new version of its I CAN system, which provides yield monitoring and moisture metering. The I CAN version 2400 can be operated from the in-cab terminal linked to a CCI mobile app for task and data recording.
“We have introduced the new 770 in response to customer demand. The Big X 700 has been very popular, but users are looking for even more capacity without upgrading to a machine as large as the Big X 850 or 1100,” explained James. “The extra power of the 770 over the 700 means we expect this to take over as the best seller within our larger range of forage harvesters.”
The demonstration provided an opportunity for Farmers Guide to test-drive the new Big X 630 harvesting maize. The Krone cab is excellent, with plenty of space available for the instructor and driver, and noise levels were low enough for normal conversation.
Controls take little getting used to, with everything needed for normal operation included on the joystick, a button pressed on the rear and a forward movement needed to get the machine in motion, and then pulses applied to the control used to regulate the speed. The spout direction is controlled by small buttons at the top of the joystick, and excellent visibility to the right side made monitoring the trailer filling easy.
The steering lock is noticeably tighter than before, making it easy to turn on the headland and improving operation around obstructions in the field.
New mowers, launched at Agritechnica, include the ActiveMow which replaces the current AM range and is designed to meet the requirements of small to medium farms.
The new range includes 3-point linkage models under 5m cutting width including the 3m variants, likely to be most popular with UK user, according to the company. Krone UK marketing manager James Duggleby said Krone enjoys an approximate 15 percent UK mower market share, but the company’s target is to increase its share to over 20 per cent, for all its products. The new range includes five models up to 3.6m cutting width, up from four in the previous AM range which included cutting widths up to 3.2m.
Features of the new range include shear pins in the drive hub providing protection to the drive line, and the SafeCut design allows the blade to rise above and avoid contact with neighbouring blades in the event of a shear pin break. The new mowers have a SmartCut mower bed which features increased overlap between blades for an even cut in both light and heavier conditions.
The new discs are modular, with individual components replaceable, which will reduce maintenance costs.
A new headstock is designed to suit larger tractors, and provides a greater distance between the centre of the tractor and the first cutting disc. Added convenience is provided by integral spare blade stowage within the headstock assembly. Simple suspension is adjusted via springs, the spring-based system providing quicker reaction to changing ground conditions, explained James.
Improved travel between sites results from a 100-degree fold over angle, which replaces the 90-degree carrying angle of the previous mowers, which could restrict the rear view through the tractor mirrors.
News of Krone’s baler range included the BigPack 870 HDP XC which is now in full production after a limited number were manufactured and completed trials in 2015. “Nine pre-production machines were working,” explained James, “in crops including straw, forage and silage.” The HDP High Density Pack produces bales of very high density for ease of handling and storage, but with Krone’s Multibale as standard, the operator can choose to divide the main bale into segments of any size from 30cms, provided they are divisible by the overall bale length. We have offered Multibale for over 10 years in the 120×70 profile, but that was a big bale for manual handling even with its minimum 30cm thickness. Now the size has been reduced by a third, the bales are more manageable and attractive for smaller livestock producers and equine use. The high density means five strings are needed, so five knotters have to be accommodated, but slimline knotters have been fitted and strings one, three and five keep the package together and numbers two and four make up the bale sections.
The baler uses an EasyFlow cam-less pick-up, which has fewer wearing parts than conventional pick-ups so requires less maintenance. It has a faster rotation speed and five rows of tines.
A powered auger keeps the crop tight into the packing mechanism for an even feed and the pre-chamber design means wafers of straw, capable of filling the entire chamber from bottom to top are produced before entering the main chamber. The uniform-sized wafers maintain constant density throughout the bale length, regardless of variable crop volume and result in a square edge, which means the strings stay firmly on the bale. XCut chopping is an option, with up to 16 blades available. James said most of the balers sold in the UK are supplied without the optional chopper, but that there has been increased demand in recent years.
Protection throughout the machine is by cam-clutch, reducing downtime if blockages occur, with the only shear-bolt used to protect the knotter arm. Hydraulic adjustment of bale density allows changes to be made from the cab, the system using pressure sensors on the con rods to measure the force. When extra density is required, the rear doors are pushed in tighter by the hydraulics, creating greater resistance on the bale leaving the machine.
Moisture sensors and bale weighing systems are an option with approximately 50 per cent of machines now supplied with weighers, according to James. The balers are fully Isobus-compatible and performance information is available through Krone’s app, launched this year at Cereals.
Pellets from the field
An all-new product, which has been undergoing testing this season, was shown at Agritechnica. The Premos 5000 is a concept machine, which produces straw pellets straight from the field but won’t be available commercially for at least two years. Designed on the principle of a baler, it can also be used stationary to process straw from bales out of harvest season. In the field, a conventional pick-up collects the straw, and the crop then passes through a conditioning rotor before being forced between compression gears to achieve pressures approaching 2,000 bar. The crop is forced through tubes which form the compressed pellets, achieving temperatures of 70-100 degrees centigrade, pasteurising the material. Krone’s BigPack conventional baler achieves pressures up to 170kg/m3, and the high-density version achieves pressures of 200-220kg/m3, but the straw pelleter produces pellets with a density of 600-700kg/m3. Producing the straw pellets in the field cuts down significantly on transport requirements, and the compressed material takes up far less space to store than straw bales. Operating speed in the field is approximately 5kph, and Krone sees possibilities for the product to produce the pellets for fuel, as well as for bedding.