While we will have to wait a little bit longer for a physical version of the French SIMA machinery show, its digital alternative highlighted several machinery and technology developments, from loaders and drills to bale carting apps and autonomous diet feeders. Jane Carley reports.
France’s SIMA international machinery show is traditionally held biannually to alternate with its German counterpart, Agritechnica.
Unfortunately, SIMA was another to fall victim of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the next exhibition now scheduled for November 2022.
However, recognising that its spring press conference is an important launch platform for new products, organisers put together a virtual event for exhibitors to present some of their innovations.
Manitou is to update several of its ranges this year. Part of a move to offer owner-drivers a more bespoke machine, there will be limited edition versions of the Stage 5 MLT 737 (130hp) and MLT 741 (140hp) telehandler.
Extras include new grey paintwork, NewAg logo and a package of options including the firm’s Ecostop fuel saving function, LED lights, hydraulic attachment locking and offside and rear view cameras. A leather covered seat, wheel and armrest with red detailing can also be added.
Updates have also been made to other models in the NewAg range, including a new Stage 5 engine for the MLT 630, increasing power to 116hp, new doorway lighting and an automatic parking brake on larger machines.
In addition, the compact MLT 420 gets Stage 5 engines and is now available with a carriage suitable for skid steer attachments, aimed at customers with both types of handling machine.
Developments to Manitou’s sister brand Gehl include a redesign for the AL 550 compact articulated loader – also badged as the Manitou MLA 5-55 H-Z - with Stage 5 engine, new chassis and cab.
There will also be a Gehl version of the telescopic articulated MLA-T 533, designated the ALT 950 and topping out the Gehl range with its 3.3 tonnes capacity. It has a wide cab and can lift to 5.2m, and features 45 degreee steering articulation and four-wheel drive.
Extended service intervals on compact and articulated loaders are said to cut running costs by 30 per cent.
Merlo is to launch its fully electric E-Worker telehandler this year. Designed to reduce noise levels and pollution, the use of battery power is said to make them more compact than their diesel equivalents.
Designed for applications such as warehousing, factories, underground facilities and stables, the range also has all-terrain possibilities as it is suitable for slopes up to 40 per cent, says the manufacturer.
The Merlo Group has also developed software that allows status monitoring of the batteries and optimisation of their use, giving a working time of eight hours.
Available in two- and four-wheel drive versions, the E-Worker 25.5-60 and 25.5-90 have power outputt of 66 and 90hp respectively, and both versions lift 2.5t and have a maximum lift height of 4.8m. Towing capacity is up to 6six tonnes and the design incorporates a 785mm wide cab for additional operator comfort.
AgLeader has introduced two new aftermarket steering systems. SteadySteer is said to offer ease of installation for tractors where hydraulic steering is not suitable. The SteadySteer sprocket is placed around the steering column by splitting it and is easily mounted without having to disassemble the steering wheel.
A direct drive motor is fitted with a single click and offers increased power for the stiffer steering found on some older tractors. The ring stays on the steering wheel if the system needs to be moved to another machine, such as a combine or sprayer for a short period; an extra ring simply being fitted to that machine.
Alternatively, SteerCommand Z2 provides integrated hydraulic steering directly to a vehicle’s CanBus or hydraulic valve for auto-steer performance, working with any GPS receiver and offering an upgrade from Egnos accuracy to RTK if required.
The company has also developed CartACE, which uses auto-steer technology already within the operation to simplify the grain cart operator’s job. As such, the combine coverage map is shared to provide the guidance line for the tractor. When it is time to unload, the grain cart engages with the press of button and automatically steers on a line directly under the combine’s auger. Auto-steer takes over steering to assist the operator with accurately unloading on the go.
Bednar continues its focus on high output crop establishment with The Efecta CE 12m drill, which has a double-chamber pressurised tank with a capacity of 6,000 litres for seed only or seed/fertiliser; the Bednar Alfa-Drill seeding unit can be added for small seeds or pellets.
Drill coulter sections are mounted on the side frames using a parallelogram and each drill coulter uses its own parallelogram for contour following, helping to maintain a constant seeding depth.
The Efecta CE has the option of a soil cultivation module with a choice of four types of working element and can be equipped with fertiliser coulters. Working speeds are up to 20kph, offering outputs of up to 200 hectares per day, says the manufacturer. Row spacings of 125 or 167mm c can be specified.
Using Bednar’s own Easy Control software, the drill offers functions including variable rate control, section control, simple seed calibration, seed library, IsoBus aux control and seed flow sensors.
Specialist tillage manufacturer Agrowin introduced the Scalpwin disc cultivator, which can be used as part of a seeding combination or alone for primary cultivations.
Three or four rows of 720mm diameter conical discs with sharp corrugations are mounted at a narrow distance of 60-80mm apart, compared to 125mm for a conventional disc cultivators. This approach is said to give superficial ‘scalping’ at 20mm deep across the entire worked width. Depth is controlled via tandem wheels at the front and a roller at the rear.
Used alone, Scalpwin can prepare a stale seedbed; it can also be fitted with a ring roller to aerate the soil.
The Semwin seed drill can also be fitted to place seed and/or fertiliser in narrow strips into the working base of each disc; soil from the neighbouring disc covers the seed and soil reconsolidation is aided by the roller.
The optional Plowin’s two-point offset forked blade can be used to loosen the soil at a depth of 150-350mm and can help to level ahead of the discs. Scalpwin is available in 3m, 4m and 4.5m models with horsepower requirement from 180hp; fitted out with four rows of discs, front cracker and drill, it needs 350hp.
Kemper has made a number of updates to its header range including the Stalkbuster adaptation for its eight-row maize header.
Maize stubble provides an overwintering home for corn borer larvae, responsible for destroying 4 per cent of the global maize cultivation area, and with the potential to reduce crop yield by 50 per cent.
As a result, it has become a particular issue where maize is grown in a monoculture for biogas production. Post-harvest mulching often takes place too late to prevent the larvae becoming established in the stalks, and can cause soil damage in wet conditions.
To combat this, Stalkbuster crushes maize stubbles during harvest using flails mounted at the rear of the header, driven by gearboxes in its frame. Its flails are lifted as the forager is reversed and do not add to the 3.3m transport width; there is an additional 4hp power requirement per row. Pneumatic pressure adapts to ground contours and can be adjusted to suit conditions.
TrackenGo has developed a pair of tools to increase efficiency when collecting bales from the field; one aimed at farmers and the other at hay and straw merchants.
Reckeo tracks and counts bales in the field on the baling tractor, helping farmers to manage bale collection. Data is transmitted automatically to the farm office where a collection plan can be prepared for the trailer driver and a map of baling sites and bale collection pattern in the field is produced.
TrackenGo developer Forian Lafoux explains: “This not only saves time and fuel but also reduces compaction in the field. The farmer knows exactly how many bales to expect and can plan storage; he can add the store details for future reference, allowing him to select a particular type or size of bale or quality of forage for use or sale.”
Kropeo provides detailed maps of fields where straw or fodder crops have been baled which can be used to produce an itinerary for the haulage driver. “The itinerary shows routes to the field on a mobile app and can offer alternatives for obstructions on the route,” says Mr Lafoux. “Locations of the bales and a collection route can be included and reports generated showing the number of bales in each field, etc.”
Kropeo has been trialled by merchants for commercial roll out this year, while Reckeo will be available in 2022.
Kuhn’s Aura autonomous self-propelled mixer feeder will be working on French farms this spring, designed to offer automated feeding without the complexities of feed kitchen systems, it claims.
Based on the company’s existing self-propelled feeders, Aura will automatically load, weigh, mix and distribute the ration according to tasks set on a rationing interface on the MyKuhn portal.
A conveyor-mounted milling head pivots across the machine width to gather silage from the clamp, with other ration components loaded via augers mounted on the farm's silos which use receivers to communicate with Aura's transmitter.
The 3cu.m mixing tub is equipped with two vertical augers, designed to cut power requirement, with distribution handled by a cross conveyor that unloads to the right or left of the machine. It also features rotating brushes in the chassis to push the feed up against the feed barrier.
Navigation is via RTK and motion sensors outside the building and LIDAR technology for indoor manoeuvring. Aura can also negotiate slopes of up to 20 per cent, says the manufacturer.
Power is supplied by a 58hp Stage 5 engine; there is also an Aura-e hybrid version which automatically switches to electric mode during the distribution phases, eliminating fumes and noise. Kuhn says that Aura is ideal for farms with at least 80 dairy cattle.
Siloking has extended its range of self-propelled mixer feeder wagons to five models and introduced a ‘best of five’ strategy to upgrade features across the self-propelled offering.
New to the range is the Selfline 4.0 300+, filling a gap between its compact machines and the larger 500+ and 1000+ models.
The Selfline 300+ is available in capacities from 19-27cu.m, designed for herds of 300-350 cows and powered by a 218hp, four-cylinder Volvo engine. Aimed at single site farms, it has a top speed of 25kph, while the taller chassis allows the conveyor to reach into troughs, with a choice of discharge options.
A straw chopper option, also being rolled out on 500+ and 1000+ models, is mounted behind the milling head. A metal plate guides forage over a counter knife to chop to 20-30mm lengths, avoiding long fibres being left in the trough. The straw chopper can be taken out of work when loading silage or concentrates at a press of a button on the joystick.
Siloking also reports continued interest in its ETruk electrically powered feeder mixer wagon with 80 units working in Europe, including the UK.
Dilepix introduced its automatic visual monitoring solutions which use a cloud application platform for livestock management. It can also be used to automate agricultural machinery and is said to be one of the first commercial artificial intelligence (AI) product lines to be brought to market.
Based in Brittany, Dilepix is a spin off from Inria Rennes (the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation).
The software retrieves images and video streams that come from smartphones or cameras that are placed in crops or in livestock buildings. Cameras can also be embedded on tractors, drones or robots to automatically detect pests, diseases or weeds, offering automatic and real-time control of equipment.
Dilepix combines in-house neural networks (deep learning) with computer vision algorithms, working in partnership with companies such as Orange, Intel and Airbus.
Marketed to OEMs and agricultural organisations such as research stations rather than as aftermarket solutions, applications include automatic guidance for livestock feeding robots, automatic coupling of attachments, vision-based robotic control for loaders and auto-steering for spot spraying, mechanical weeding and selective harvesting, for example.