Not too dissimilar to current UK circumstances, the hot, dry, dusty conditions of Dresden provided the backdrop for Case IH’s latest combine launch, with automated technology headlining the event. James Rickard reports.
If it was not for the change in model number and use of new decals, you would be hard pressed to think Case IH has done much to its new 250-Series comes.
However, the firm has been busy under the skin of the new machines, with primary developments focussing on ease of operation and improved efficiency. This extends to a new optional combine automation system called AFS Harvest Command, building on Case IH’s AFS suite of precision farming systems.
The firm says productivity gains of about 10 per cent can be achieved with the automated system, adding it could prove useful in a number of scenarios; where a skilled operator is working long hours, where terrain and crop conditions vary and where in-experienced operators are used.
Harvest Command will be available as option for next season, costing in the region of £13,000 (€15,000). This includes all the adjustable elements to allow it to work.
In addition to the technology, physical updates include extra in-cab adjustment of the threshing and cleaning system, a re-designed feeder house and a new transmission.
As before, Case’s ‘large’ family of combines comprises three models; 7250 (498hp/11,100 litre grain tank), 8250 (571hp/11,100 litre grain tank) and 9250 (634hp/14,400 litre grain tank), sitting above the ‘small’ family of 140 Series models.
Designed to ease the burden of intense combine operation, Harvest Command uses information from 16 sensors throughout the combine, to determine and make appropriate on the go adjustments to the machine. Based on crop and terrain conditions, the combine can make pro-active and reactive adjustments to fan speed, rotor speed, rotor cage vane position, sieve opening position and forward speed, to name but a few. Intervals of 10, 20 or 40 seconds can be selected as to when the combine makes an adjustment.
Harvest Command can be operated in one of four modes; performance, quality, maximum throughput and fixed throughput. Though it will still try and maintain a quality sample and maximum throughput, performance mode prioritises the reduction of grain losses, while quality mode prioritises the sample - ideal for seed growers. If rain is imminent, maximum throughput mode could be used, with fixed throughput mode used to match the combine to the farms’ infrastructure. The latter allows the ability to set a tonnes/hour figure so trailers, tracks and grain stores are not overloaded.
With each mode, operators can intervene and make adjustments, putting limits on top speed and engine load, for example. The system can also be turned off.
At present, Harvest Command has been designed to work with wheat, OSR, soy beans and maize. Barley and oats are to follow.
On top of its current 14 sensors, Case has introduced two new sensors to better understand crop flow and quality.
To avoid over/under loading the sieves with grain, new sensors measure air pressure above the sieves, which determine the status of the combine’s air flow, and therefore its ability to clean. Should too much or too little air pressure be measured, the combine can make the appropriate fan adjustments. Sieve side slope compensation of up to 12 degrees, continues to help with this.
In addition, a new grain camera (pictured) using multi-spectral light, including ultra violet, is used to gain a better understanding of grain quality, with different types of light able to analyse different elements of the grain. Samples are taken every 3.5 seconds, with the results averaged out.
New for 2019 will be the ability to adjust the rotors’ cage vanes from the cab, tailoring crop flow (pictured). Previously this would have required a spanner, but now, via the use of an electric actuator and a parallelogram linkage connecting all the vanes, this can be done at the touch of a button.
At the vanes’ sharpest angle, it sees material spending more time being threshed, taking approximately seven to eight revolutions around the cage before it exits. At the other end of the scale, the shallowest angle will see the crop revolve five to six times.
Similarly, pre-sieve adjustment can also now be made from the cab, complementing the ability to adjust the top and bottom sieves.
Future proofing its feeder house with large 14m header widths in-mind, Case has increased the lifting capacity by 18 per cent. By moving the lower mounting point, to give more leverage, the feeder house can lift up to 6.1 tonnes, says the manufacturer.
In addition, the feeder houses’ structure has been beefed up to cope with increased twisting forces. Likewise, the driveline has been uprated and the feeder house’s floor has been adapted to handle more crop flow. Steel cast slats have also been introduced to the feeder’s elevator, said to be more durable.
Complementing its tilt cylinders which allow the header to automatically adapt to field contours, the firm has introduced an optional pivoting feeder face which enables the header to be pitched fore/aft by 12 degrees – ideal for low grown crops such as peas, clover, soy beans, etc.
Simplifying transmission control, the manufacturer has developed a two speed transmission for the 250-Series, offering essentially field and road gears with a hydrostatic-based hi/lo range within each of the gears.
And while you do need to stop to change between the two main gears, as you did with the previous four speed unit, the hi/lo range can be done on the move. For example, if you encounter a hill on the road or in the field, it means the hi/lo button can be used to effectively gear down without having to stop the combine, something you would have to have done in the previous generation machine, often resulting in irate motorists.
More features and functions means more controls. And additional buttons for transmission, cage vane adjustment and pre-sieve adjustment have been added to the main console.
The rotary dial for speed selection has also been altered accordingly.
For ease of understanding, all buttons are grouped together by their function, says the manufacturer, such as transmission, threshing and cleaning.
Interactive graphics for the Harvest Command system have also been added, allowing monitoring and tailoring of the various operating modes.