An opportunity to get behind the wheel of models in New Holland’s Forage Cruiser forage harvester line-up also provided a demonstration of the company’s growing range of mowers, rakes and tedders plus updated handlers and tractors. David Williams tried them out.
The demonstration was on grassland owned by Goodwood Estate, which includes 1,400ha of all-arable rotation cropping within its 4,600ha land area. The farm has been dedicated to organic food production for 17 years and the grassland had suffered during months of drier than average weather but the demonstration field allowed the benefits of New Holland’s design features to be highlighted at the event.
Along with five forage harvesters there were mowers, rakes and tedders in New Holland colours following the acquisition in 2017 of Kongskilde’s machinery division, and also featuring were the latest T7-HD tractors and the new T6.175 with DynamicCommand transmission. The latest telescopic handler and a wheeled loader were also available to try.
The event commenced with a description of New Holland’s recent business performance by business director for UK and Ireland Pat Smith who explained that 52 per cent of CNH Industrial’s revenue is from Europe and that unit numbers in the UK this year so far are up 15.7 per cent on the same period last year, on a like-for-like basis and excluding implements.
Marketing manager Mark Crosby highlighted celebrations marking 60 years of harvesters since the Claeys models were first sold in 1959 and 100 years since the first Fiats were sold which is being marked by limited edition terracotta-coloured New Holland tractors.
Mark went on to highlight that 45 per cent of tractors produced at Basildon last year were T6 models with T7 std and T7 long wheelbase machines accounting for 25 per cent each. T7 HD tractors took 5 per cent of production.
New Holland has invested heavily in forage harvester development in recent years and it was stated at the event that the company’s target for European market share is second place minimum.
The FR Forage Cruiser line-up includes 5 models from 476–911hp, all powered by FPT engines. Product specialist for hay and forage Ian Bourke said “FPT engines provide excellent torque back-up which is essential for forage harvesting where working loads are rarely consistent. Up to 48 per cent torque rise is available on the flagship FR920 and lower down the range the FR650 has recently been tested by DLG confirming superb fuel economy with only 0.45 litres of diesel consumed per tonne of chopped silage, at a chop length of 19mm.”
Drums to suit
There are 5 drums to choose from, but for grass a rotor with a staggered double set of 10 blades in a chevron configuration is most popular while for biogas maize a rotor with two sets of 20 knives gives a finer chop. Standard chop lengths achievable are 2–33mm and a high-speed pulley drive is an option extending the chop length range available.
New Holland believes its drum is the toughest on the market; stating that as well as chopping grass, wholecrop and maize it is also fully approved for coppicing, chopping woody vegetation up to 150mm diameter.
“We use the largest drum of any manufacturer which means forage passes through the chopper in a wide but thin mat, promoting an efficient cutting action,” explained forage harvester specialist Ian Bourke.
Automatic blade sharpening is standard and New Holland gives an option to sharpen with drum rotation reversed for a more effective cutting edge and extending working life. The shearbar is adjusted from the cab automatically and two knock sensors detect the touch of the blades, then back off to achieve 0.1mm clearance.
HydroLoc is New Holland’s system for maintaining precise chop length, even in variable conditions, with set up through the Intelliview 4 monitor from the cab. ActiveLOC is an option, adapting the length of cut to suit the crop conditions using constant real-time moisture sensing for increased clamp density and improved silage quality.
An aggressive feed roller profile ensures a firm grip on forage for constant feed to the chopper. The intake drive is by hydraulic motor for step-less speed adjustment and three feed rolls – two at the top and one at the bottom transfer the crop. “We use fewer feed rollers than some competitor machines as the whole system can be stopped in under 300 milli-seconds,” said Ian.
“If metal is detected; a hydraulic valve shuts off oil flow creating a hydraulic lock and stopping the whole system almost instantly,” he added.
The harvester is also protected by RockAlert, which detects stones through monitoring feed roll movement. Sudden rapid vertical movement triggers the system and the power reverser ejects crop automatically.
Chop length is set in the cab through external high-low range adjustment of the length-of-cut gearbox.
A new high-performance feed roll module is an option for all models except the base FR480 and is standard on the FR780 and FR920. The upgrade provides smoother crop delivery and is designed for longer life working in intensive conditions, with an additional 22 grease lubrication points supplied through centralised greasing.
Maize headers are made for New Holland by Kemper and working widths include 8-,10- and 12-rows. New Holland manufactures its own grass headers in 3.0 and 3.8m.
Grass pick-ups have 5 tine bars. A double drive option includes a second hydraulic motor for independent drive to the attachment. This provides more power for the header and allows independent speed adjustment. A second hydrostatic motor drives the auger allowing a speed differential to be maintained to tease lumps out of the swath for a smoother crop flow when conditions demand.
Corn cracker line-up
Maize processor options include standard rotor pairs with 99, 126 or 166 teeth with a speed differential of 10, 22, 30, 40 or 50 per cent and the heavier duty DuraCracker for intensive processing by chromed rollers with 100 or 130 teeth and with a speed differential of 30 or 40 per cent and driven by a belt with 13 per cent additional pulley wrap to reduce risk of slippage.
For effective shredding of longer-chopped forage the DuraShredder has 110 or 138 teeth cut in a spiral pattern, and operates at a speed differential of 30 or 40 per cent.
A convenient feature of New Holland’s design is the VariFlow crop processor arrangement which allows the user to activate or deactivate the maize processor in under two minutes. When not needed it is moved into a position behind the crop flow but continues to turn while receiving lubrication through the auto-greasing system.
The spout has over 210 degrees rotational travel and the demonstration highlighted the advantage of angling it well forward of centre allowing the harvester driver to see at a glance how trailer filling is progressing, without having to look over his shoulder. Up to 6.4m spout elevation ensures clearance for the highest silage trailers. The spout flap provides precise filling with simple adjustment from the CommandGrip joystick.
Optional automatic trailer filling is available. IntelliFill uses 3d camera images with capability to recognise trailer sides so there is no need for individual programming for each trailer.
The practical Forage Cruiser design includes a narrow chassis to provide a tight steering angle with a 6.4m turning radius, which means when harvesting with a 10-row maize header no headland shunting is required. The engine is longitudinal in the chassis and mounted low for stability.
The chassis is the same across the range and provides a minimum transport width of just 3.15m depending on wheel equipment.
Mechanical 4wd is by propshaft to the rear axle and heavy-duty 4wd through New Holland’s Terralock is an option for all models except the FR920 on which it is standard. Terralock includes technology borrowed from the company’s tractors with automatic engagement and disengagement of 4wd at a pre-set steering angle between 10–35 degrees.
New cab steps provide easy access and the cab itself is spacious and well laid out, making the most of available space. What immediately impresses is the visibility, especially to the front and sides. A curved rear window and narrow rear corner pillars improve vision and safety to the rear. Up to three optional cameras can be fitted with display through the Intelliview 4 terminal.
A selection of three seat grades is available and comfort is impressive including exceptionally low noise levels (just 76dB(A). Set-up is through the touch display and adjustment and control of all work functions are through the CommandGrip joystick. All the work function and adjustment switches along with the display are on a seat arm-mounted control panel.
The demonstration provided plenty of time to get used to the machine’s controls and within just a few bouts the novice Farmers Guide driver was operating the harvester without prompts from the trainer. The joystick buttons are well arranged with a positive ‘feel’, which means that, with familiarity, there is little need to look for the controls.
Travel direction and speed control through the joystick is simple and progressive. Moving the stick forward further provides a pulse of acceleration proportionate to the amount of travel and nudging it forward or back briefly adjusts the speed in fine increments to suit the swath or to assist the trailer driver.
Flexible and efficient
Two selectable automatic working modes are available. Power Cruise 2 automatically adjusts the engine and ground speed in relation to actual load providing potential fuel savings up to 15 per cent. During periods when load is reduced such as when turning on headlands the engine speed reduces, increasing again when needed. Eco engine management mode has two settings; a high range – where engine speed can be set between 1,950–2,100rpm ideal for foraging grass, and a lower range between 1,700–1,850rpm where higher torque is available and ideal for harvesting maize. The operator sets the desired engine speed and Eco management adjusts constantly to ensure the engine remains fully loaded for operating efficiency and performance, while constant forward speed is maintained.
Maximum 40kph transport speed is achieved at just 1,200rpm.
IntelliSteer is an option for accurate guidance and automatic steering and includes functionality to transfer guidance information from the tractor to the harvester for precise compatibility with maize rows whether drilled straight or in curves.
Full telematics allows data including performance information and yield mapping to be shared between the machine and farm office, with simple data management available through MyNewHolland.com.
New Holland’s latest FR Forage Cruisers impressed at the demonstration and for those spending long hours in the seat the cabs are hard to beat. Independently verified fuel use information suggests the design is efficient and with models to suit farms and contractors harvesting multiple crops and a comprehensive dealer network providing back-up, the brand is well worth considering.