At a major European press event, Lemken unveiled new and updated products and a major acquisition, all with appeal for UK growers. David Williams was there.
German machinery manufacturer Lemken is family owned and continues to demonstrate its confidence in the agricultural industry by investing heavily in R&D to remain at the cutting edge with its range of products. Cultivation and drilling machinery is a long-established specialty, more recently joined by mounted and trailed sprayers and this year’s press launch in France included previews of updates to all its ranges, plus a tour of its new wholly-owned French subsidiary.
Company owner and director Nicola Lemken started the event highlighting challenges facing agriculture and farmers, including the dry summer which affected crops across Europe. “We can’t influence the weather but we are always looking for new products and solutions to help growers,” she said.
Lemken managing director Anthony van der Ley said 2017 had been an excellent year for the company with sales of €360m, 11 per cent up on the previous year. 2018 started well, he added, but with weather putting crops under pressure sales later had slowed although there was high demand for ploughs and compact disc harrows and the year could still prove a record for the business.
R&D priority is to develop products offering quality, reliability and efficiency, he explained, adding that downtime is not acceptable. Increased automation and improved efficiency through computerisation is needed, and universal data management, stressing that allowing all data to be shared between systems is essential, or there is no point having it.
Main product news included Lemken’s latest precision farming products, new ploughs, cultivators, sprayers and drills and the press event included demonstrations of the new machinery in action.
Mechanical weed control
Lemken’s acquisition of Steketee was a highlight. The Dutch manufacturer specialises in conventional and camera-guided weed control implements.
Anthony van der Ley said the acquisition offers a solution as acceptance of crop protection with chemical control decreases, and growing resistance to currently available actives becomes more of an issue; explaining that mechanical weed control offers the greatest opportunity to reduce chemical use.
Steketee employs approximately 50 people, all of who will be retained following the change of ownership, but Lemken’s involvement offers potential for increased product development, production and sales through the large dealer network. Steketee’s cultivation division Rumptstadt has also been acquired by Lemken, although the company’s ventilation technology business is not included. Steketee former owner and managing director Klaas Veerman maintains responsibility for the company’s operational management, working with Lemken head of crop care business Iljan Schouten. Steketee’s current UK sales and service dealers continue to represent the brand.
Lemken’s Diamant 16 semi-mounted ploughs were demonstrated including a new adjustment system. Replacing the Diamant 11 which sold more than 4,000 units, the new model has features improving tractor fuel consumption and operator comfort.
OptiLine, Lemken claims, is the only adjustment system for this type of plough to prevent lateral pull during work, and it compensates using a pressure-controlled cylinder to transfer additional torque to the tractor. This ‘shifts’ the tractor/plough traction line towards the centre of the rear axle, reducing demands on the driver to counter-steer and fuel use by up to 10 per cent.
The ploughs also have Lemken’s well-proven traction booster which transfers weight to the tractor’s rear wheels increasing grip. The latest version reduces axle pressure at the headland for ease of manoeuvring, which allows increased pressure in work for even better tractive efficiency. For use with larger tractors up to 4m width, the on-land version is updated so the tractor wheels maintain sufficient distance from the furrow edges. Continuously variable hydraulic working depth adjustment is new allowing alteration from the seat.
The new model is available with Dural or DuraMaxx plough bodies in versions up to 9f from 2019.
Lightweight 6f plough
The Juwel 7M series has been extended from its current 3–5f line-up to include a 6f plough for tractors up to 200hp. Lemken UK general manager Paul Creasy explained that demand for a larger plough for use with medium size tractors with limited lift capacity is relatively small in the UK, but often requested by farmers on light, sandy land. The plough retains the 120mm Juwel 7M beam with added reinforcement of the forward section, but is carried on a headstock from heavier Juwel 8 models and the new plough features a hydraulic UniTurn reversing mechanism with mechanical tilt adjustment.
Mechanical adjustment to 4 working widths is standard, although an MV version includes continuously variable hydraulic changing. Dural bodies are standard with DuraMaxx an option offering up to 150 per cent longer service life.
The 6f Juwel 7M plough will be available from 2019.
Compact disc harrows
A new disc arrangement is the main update for Lemken’s compact disc harrows with the introduction of the Rubin 10. Discs are arranged to provide symmetrical forces to the left and right, for directional stability without lateral pull, reducing power requirement and improving positioning for precise pass alignment.
The three central discs are offset allowing them to work collision-free across the full width at 12.5cm spacing. This ensures efficient soil flow and even cultivation across the width. The discs engage across their full surfaces from just 7cm working depth and an undercut aids penetration and mixing efficiency.
Duramaxx 645mm diameter discs are standard with a service life 30 per cent longer than standard discs. These are carried on heavier legs, shaped for optimal trash clearance. Overload protection is provided for each disc and protection pockets are welded to the frame to maintain accurate positioning.
Behind the first row of discs an integral harrow improves crumbling effect and distributes soil and organic matter in the direction of travel. A rear impact and leveling harrow leaves an even surface.
Mounted versions are available with an optional rear Uni wheel reducing lifting force needed and load on the tractor. The wheel operates mechanically and no additional spool is required. A benefit is that heavier rear presses can be added for improved consolidation and moisture retention.
Folding versions have hydraulic depth adjustment and semi-mounted disc harrows are available with depth control wheels to ensure even working depth and accurate pass-to-pass alignment on slopes.
The Rubin 10 is available in 2.5–7.0m working widths and enters production in 2019.
A new seeding option was demonstrated in the form of the Optidisc 25 solo coulter bar. With proven Optidisc double disc coulters mounted on maintenance-free rubber suspension bearings, each coulter and depth control roller adjusts independently on uneven ground maintaining accurate seed depth. Coulter pressure up to 45kg is mechanically adjustable but higher pressure up to 70kg is available with a hydraulic upgrade.
Four distributors control seed delivery and tramline positioning, allowing a range of tramline patterns, using the same operating principle as the larger Solitair 25 drill. Perforated rings are arranged one above the other in the distributor heads directly above the coulter bar. The lower ring is for regular sowing while selected outlets in the upper ring are blocked to suit the tramline width. When a tramline position is reached, the rings are swapped hydraulically and the simple system means there is no seed return system needed and even distribution is maintained. The new coulter bar is available in 4.0 and 4.5m folding working widths from 2019.
Drill updates also include a new front hopper. The Solitair 23 is for seed or fertiliser and can be combined with a power harrow or the new Optidisc 25 mounted coulter bar, for even weight distribution and generous seed capacity. Additional applications include simultaneous fertiliser placement when working with a seed drill and to establish catch crops.
The Solitair 23 is designed as an injector front tank and can be supplied as a pressurised hopper. Seed or fertiliser rates up to 500kg/ha can be metered and the compact metering system allows a low overall height for excellent front visibility despite the large 1,900-litre tank capacity. Weigh cells are an option for improved precision.
Although the tank is designed for front linkage mounting, an option is to combine it with a front furrow press for cross-width consolidation or modular weights to optimise balance. Paul Creasy explained that particular interest is expected in the front hopper for use with the new Azurit precision seed drill, for under-root fertilisation.
The Azurit maize drill has created considerable interest since its announcement in 2016, for its ability to plant seeds in a triangular pattern for optimal spacing and growth.
For those growing large areas of maize, a new larger fertiliser hopper can be combined with the Azurit, increasing work rates.
The Solitair 12 SW seed trailer has 5,800-litres capacity, and the company claims daily drilling capability for the combination of 60ha.
The Solitair 12 SW can be filled easily by telescopic handler, from big bags or by a loading auger. Coupling to the Azurit drill is by standard three-point linkage without a leading cultivation implement allowing the drill to be removed and used in other combinations.
Two seeding shafts, each with four cellular rotors are driven by one electric motor and dispense fertiliser precisely to the drill coulters even at high working speeds. Electro-hydraulic part-width section control is an option. A hydraulic-driven fan provides a constant airflow to ensure even distribution including to the outermost rows.
Isobus is standard and when the new CCI 1200 terminal is used both the drill and hopper trailer can be displayed and controlled simultaneously. The new trailer will be available late in 2019.
Updates for the Primus and Albatross trailed sprayers were announced. The entry-level Primus has a new polyurethane tank, and new controls arranged more clearly for greater ease of use. A more rounded tank profile, LED lighting and a similar family colour scheme to match Lemken’s larger sprayers have been introduced. The CCI 50 terminal includes a job computer and an intuitive graphical user interface. A DGPS receiver can be retrofitted allowing use of CCI apps including automatic section control or parallel tracking assistance.
Primus and Albatross 12 series models feature Isobus as standard and can be operated through any compatible terminal.
The latest Primus has a circulation line, ensuring uniform spray concentration and delivery across the width as soon as spraying starts and every nozzle has individual switching allowing control of smaller sections.
A simple update is the reversible drawbar which can be flipped allowing towing from the lower or raised position. Clean water capacity is increased to 320 litres.
Primus 10 and 12 models have tank capacities of 2,400–4,400 litres and boom widths 15–30m, and the Albatross 10 and 12 have capacities 4,000–6,200 litres and boom widths up to 15 or 39m respectively.
For Sirius mounted and Vega trailed sprayers new active boom suspension is available to maintain constant nozzle height above the crop. Set height is maintained, even with one side of the boom fully folded.
Farmers Guide reported on Lemken’s field weather station earlier this year when it was displayed at Cornwall dealer Hambly’s open days. Combined with a weather app, the weather station provides current weather data straight from the field allowing farmers to calculate dew point and leaf wetness, combining this with other weather data to decide when field operations such as spraying should be carried out.
The weather station is partially buried in the ground and measures soil temperature at 5 and 20cm depths, and air temperature and humidity at 25cm in the crop, and 75cm above the crop.
Data is transmitted using the Sigfox network every 30 minutes and from the data the app calculates dew point and leaf wetness. The app combines data from additional sources regarding wind speed and direction, radiation values and precipitation and a rain sensor can also be combined, delivering updates every half hour. Data is stored for up to one year providing a climate overview for the location.
Crop care modules are also available, providing a 14-day weather forecast and 5-day disease forecast for more than 40 crops.