More than just ploughing, the Irish Ploughing Championships always throws up a whole host of new machinery and farm technology developments. Justin Roberts and Alex Black report.
The mower market is a crowded one, but Keltec of County Limerick has brought some fresh thinking to the field by introducing a set of rear mounted mowers with screw augers rather than belt groupers.
This method of crop transfer allows the machines to be lighter and more compact, says the company, with weight being kept closer to the tractor.
Augers have a reputation for twisting the swath into a ‘rope’, says Keltech, a problem it says it avoids by feeding the cut and conditioned grass in above the auger, rather than from below. It also claims that the steel ‘V’ conditioning tines improve overall sugar levels.
Using sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Machine Eye was looking to increase safety around tractors and machinery.
By monitoring human behaviour, the system is said to be able to predict dangerous situations, such as a person stepping behind a reversing tractor. The system will then take control and stop the machine.
Replacing some of the tractor’s work lights, sensors can be positioned around the tractor or machine, to give a 360 degree detection zone, while keeping the look of the tractor.
The system can be fitted ex-factory or ex-dealer, as well as being able to be retrofitted to many older machines.
Already active in the mower market, Malone Farm Machinery of County Mayo launched a brace of new trailed machines to bring them bang up to date.
Available in either 2.6 or three metre widths, they now feature shear hub discs to help protect the gears and drive train. Replacement of these items is a relatively simple affair involving six bolts, says the manufacturer.
Cutting bed and gearbox are Comer units and the couplings are colour coded Kennfixx quick release items.
The larger machine is likely to be the most popular with farming customers while its smaller brother will suit those with smaller gateways, suggests Malone.
Herd Insights showed how drone technology can be utilised to monitor cows in the field, allowing a farmer to measure data from his herd remotely.
The drone will allow farmers to track movements and discover where cows were in the breeding cycle using analytics of a cow’s movements, detect illnesses early and even discover if a cow has gone missing from the field.
It is particularly useful for larger herds, says the manufacturer, allowing a farmer to understand everything about a cow’s movements, while they were out in the field.
The drone also has 4G on board and can report information back to a farmer’s tablet in real time, so they can review the information and act on it straight away.
Major is well known for toppers and this year it has revised its range of side mounted machines.
The most immediately visible difference is that they now fold up vertically to improve weight distribution and manoeuvrability during transport. Beefed up drivelines and hard wearing under-soles provide greater protection to the machine during operation.
There are also now two widths available; 2.4m and 2.7m. The smaller model has two rotors while the larger has three, yet both fold up to the same width of 1.84m when not in use. They are suitable for tractors of up to 120hp.
Freshgraze’s innovation allows farmers to move their electric fence line to allocate fresh grass to the livestock using robotics.
Wondering why robots could not be used to do it, the system was invented on an Irish farm which was moving electric fencing manually, to provide fresh grass and ensuring the cattle did not trample it.
The system uses two robots to move the electric fence line and works in most field shapes. After mapping out the field, the fence is controlled by cloud-based software so a farmer could allow the livestock onto fresh grass without leaving the house, on their phone or computer.
While it was originally made for a dairy farm, the concept could work on grassland farms all over the world. The concept was already in use by some farms in the United States but Freshgraze was looking to bring it to an Irish and UK market.
Agrispread’s latest range of spreaders is designed from the ground up to offer section control when spreading a range of materials from lime to granular fertiliser.
To achieve this, the County Mayo-based company has developed a twin belt delivery system which feeds product to two spinning discs, all of which are independently powered.
By varying the speeds of these four components independently of one another, the spreader is capable of dividing the spread pattern up into 14 sections across the width of the bout. There are seven models available, ranging from six to 22 tonnes capacity.
Latest news from the Ballinrobe-based business extends to four developments for its range of grassland kit.
The first is an ‘Adaptive Intake’ on its baler range which automatically adjusts the throat size to better cope with light crops. This sees a plastic plate, positioned between the feed rotor and pickup, tilt up and down to match crop densities.
Secondly, the firm has made a move to field recording of output with a moisture metre and bale counter which presents the information on the in-cab iTouch screen.
Thirdly, a clever adaptation of the guard rail on the firm’s Fusion Plus film on film balers eases loading of the film.
And finally, via the use of hydraulic rams, the working width of the Pro-Glide rear mounted triple mowers can now be adjustable by up to 300mm.
Early fruits of the tie up between Italian company Sitrex and Acre Machinery of County Roscommon are now becoming available to farmers.
The Supercrop1 is best described as a forage management tool as it can perform several functions including raking, tedding, conditioning, spreading and grouping.
In addition to the forward thinking inherent in its design the company has invested in a new ordering system by which the farmer can configure, order and pay for the machine online. However, dealers on the ground are still very much part of the process and will receive a commission for each machine they ‘sell’.
SlurryKat, of County Armagh, says it has always been aware of the merits of slurry and used the event to introduce us to another of its virtues, that of its role as a bedding material.
Separating the solids from the liquid faction is nothing new, but the concept has been advanced with the ability to increases the dry matter yield by a further 15 per cent.
This process apparently doubles the absorbency of the material, leading to an increase in herd wellbeing, claims the manufacturer.
Grasshopper was looking to save farmers time with sward measurement, allowing the farmer to map out his entire farm and take measurements with around 40 drops in each paddock.
It uses an on-board GPS to record the data, which requires no internet connection inside the paddock, which could have been a stumbling block for many farms.
As data is then accessible through an app or online, farmers can then save further time compared to using paper notes, claims the company.