Despite the challenges of 2020, the year still provided a vast array of machinery launches, reviews and user experience stories for the LAMMA365 crew to get stuck into.
2020 was certainly a challenge, but as we all know farming continues no matter what. And so too does the development of farm machinery and technology.
To celebrate this, we look back on the year and pick out some of our farm machinery highlights. The year did not disappoint either, with a huge variety of machinery developments and launches for us to investigate.
Machinery ranged from two-wheel electric ATVs all the way up to the highest capacity combines on the market. As well as the launches and our own reviews of machinery, we caught up with customers and operators to bring you their opinions on how some of the latest machinery is getting on in the real world.
We kick off our romp through 2020 with one of our definite favourites; the new Valtra G Series tractor.
To delve deep into the tractor’s capabilities, we test drove the series flagship, the G135, complete with the firm’s top-spec Versu package and a mind bending wealth of optional extras, courtesy of the manufacturer’s Unlimited Studio. In addition, the tractor was equipped with a colour-matched factory-fitted loader.
To give the tractor a good workout, we gave it a fortnight’s worth of silaging duties to carry out including mowing, raking, round baling and bale shifting.
In terms of operation, it is very much like driving one of Valtra’s larger tractors. Most impressively, though, is how the firm has managed to squeeze so many features into what is a relatively compact package.
Following on from the launch of its new Lexion 7000 and 8000 Series Hybrid combines in 2019, we caught up with Claas' latest Lexion straw walker combines.
The new Lexion 5000 Series, made up of three, five straw walker models, and the 6000 Series, made up of four, six walker models, replace the old five-model 600 Series originally introduced in 2011.
Like the Lexion Hybrid line-up, the walker range has also grown and features some significant changes and updates, not least a completely new threshing system, along with more power, larger grain tanks and a redesigned cab. Power ratings range from 313hp to 507hp, with grain tank capacities from 9,000 to 13,500 litres.
Taking the Lexion walkers into new territory are the top two 6000 Series models, the 6800 and 6900. These are the most powerful straw walkers the firm has ever made, creating a greater overlap with the Hybrid models.
Designed and developed in New Zealand, Ubco’s formation and initial idea of an electric utility bike suitable for agricultural applications started in 2014. After several years of prototypes, testing and sourcing investment, it has recently launched the fifth generation of its 2X2 utlity bikes.
The bikes are now being imported into the UK through subsidiary company Ubco bikes UK. The company has started enrolling dealers throughout the country with 12 currently stocking the bikes.
To see if the bikes are a viable alternative to a traditional quad, we spent a week on the saddle of the firm’s Work and Adventure models, both fitted with the largest battery available.
Like many manufacturers, New Holland is currently on a big development push in the 100-140hp tractor segment. And it appears to be a highly valued segment, one which manufacturers are climbing over each other to be a part of. Such tractors include John Deere’s new sloping bonnet M6 models, Massey Ferguson’s 5700 S Series and Fendt’s 300 Series, to name a few.
A key aspect of all these tractors is to have broad appeal, with a wide specification choice to match the equally wide variance in customer base in this segment. As such, New Holland’s latest offering, the T5 Dynamic Command tractor series, marries together aspects of its small stature T5 models with features adopted from its larger T6 models.
This includes the incorporation of the T6’s 24 by 24 dual clutch Dynamic Command transmission (DCT), its 4.5-litre engine and its four post cab. For all intents and purposes, you could say the new T5 DCT is a replacement for the old short wheelbase T6, a range and size of tractor many customers miss.
We love a celebration and 2020 marked the 20th birthday of Krone's legendary BigX self-propelled forager.
Rolling out of the assembly hall at Spelle, Northern Germany on May 20, 2000, the first Big X signalled the final step in Krone’s transition from a general agricultural machinery manufacturer to a specialist in forage technology.
Reacting to the decline in popularity of forage wagons and trailed foragers, the design brief was simple; the company would offer something bigger than the other manufacturers at the time.
An engine capable of 600hp was a must, while maize headers with eight, 10 and 12 row options were also needed, as six rows were most prevalent. In addition, a host of electronic features, many of which would later be adopted by the wider market, would deliver performance and operator comfort.
The launch of Massey Ferguson's latest 8S tractor series certainly got people talking, which features a radical new look over its predecessors.
Replacing the firm’s long wheelbase 7700S Series of tractors, the 8S range comprises four models, spanning 205-265hp (at maximum power).
The tractor has been in development since 2014. At a reported cost of $200 million (£155m), the manufacturer says the design has been influenced by the future, but also harks back to some of its most influential models from the past.
When production reaches full capacity, sometime this year, three transmission options will be available. For now, buyers have the choice of two new powershift gearboxes.
Based in the Cotswolds, agricultural contractor David Hunt faces a constant battle with stones. While it is tough on his arable kit, it wreaks havoc with forage equipment - even more so when a rake has been through the crop.
“Rakes are pretty aggressive,” explains David Hunt of D Hunt Agricultural Contractors based at Middle Brookend Farm, near Moreton-in-the-Marsh. “Unless your fields are super-smooth and flat, there is always going to be some unwanted ground contact. And we have found that rakes can also damage some grass varieties – they are just not gentle enough.”
Though until recently, the challenges of the stony Cotswold region are something that the firm has had to accept when it comes to grass and forage equipment.
But light is now at the end of the tunnel, with recent developments in swath merging equipment. After buying a 3m front-mounted merger four years ago, the firm invested in a Kuhn Merge Maxx 950 for the 2019 season.
Having absorbed the Challenger line-up into its European portfolio more than three years ago, including the brand’s twin track crawlers, Fendt had done little to integrate the larger 1100 MT into its roster of high-tech tractors.
Other than giving its tin work a lick of ‘nature green’ paint, bodywork, engine, transmission and cab layout were all still the same as in the Challenger days. However, as recently revealed, this has now changed, with a much more Fendt-ised tractor. In particular is the introduction of a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Four new models make up the range with constant power outputs spanning 511 to 673hp, making it the most powerful tracked tractor with a continuously variable transmission currently on the market.
2020 certainly showed that electric powered vehicles are on the rise and JCB's latest launch was no exception.
Following on from the launch of its electric-powered 19C-1E mini-digger and 30-19E Teletruk, JCB continues to expand its line-up of ‘E-Tech’ machines with the reveal of an electric-powered Loadall telehandler model.
Based on the diesel-powered 525-60, the new 525-60E is designed to deliver the same performance but with zero emissions. As well as agriculture, the machine is also aimed at horticulture, grounds care, construction, industrial application and equine markets.
External dimensions are unchanged from the diesel model, with the 525-60E offering the same 3.7m outside turning radius, maximum lift capacity of 2,500kg and a 2,000kg maximum lift to its six metre lift height.
The 525-60E uses two electric motors; a 17kW driveline motor drives through a permanent four-wheel drive dropbox to the machine’s axles, while a 22kW hydraulic system motor powers a fixed displacement gear pump, delivering a maximum 80 litres/min of flow.
On the hottest day in 2020, we caught up with the new X9 combine from John Deere. New from the ground up, the X9 combine series represents more than just a new combine development, but a complete change of mind set for its engineers which worked on the project.
Encouraged to no longer think in the traditional ways of building farm machinery, but rather employ a more fanatical, aerospace approach to its engineering techniques. This has seen every millimetre of space, every watt of power and every gram of weight questioned and scrutinised, adding up to some impressive efficiency and throughput gains over its current S Series flagship.
Key developments include a new twin rotor threshing system, cleaning shoe, wider body, headers, engine, transmission, power transfer and residue management system. Two models make up the new X9 Series; the 639hp X9 1000 and 700hp X9 1100. These sit above the current S Series, which will remain in the manufacturer’s line-up.
Representing an all-new market for Deutz-Fahr, we got an in-depth insight into its latest tractor development, the 8280TTV.
In terms of its construction, the 8 Series is not just a souped up version of the 7 or a scaled down version of the 9. Nor is it the 7’s front-end grafted to the back-end of the 9. In fact, the 8 represents a serious development for Deutz-Fahr, with the tractor featuring a new engine design and a brand new, in-house built continuously variable transmission.
At present, the 8 Series is only made up of one model, the 8280 TTV. However, based on the manufacturer’s investment, we cannot see it stopping there.
To find out more about the new machine, we headed to Deutz-Fahr’s UK HQ for an in-depth walkround and a road run with an 18 tonne load. At some stage, when the weather comes good, we will get it in the field.
As agriculture looks for alternative power solutions, electrically powered machines are inevitably going to become more commonplace in the future. And the 2020 LAMMA Show provided the UK launchpad for Schaffer’s fully electric 23e loader.
Built on the chassis of the German manufacturer’s 2345 model, the drivetrain is much the same, with the contents under the bonnet the exception.
The company says the loader is 90 per cent energy efficient, compared to a diesel loader, which it says is just 30 per cent efficient, losing efficiency in the combustion process through heat and noise loss, as well as mechanically throughout the drivetrain.
However, as run time and performance are vital to a machine’s success on farms, and given the technology employed is relatively new to this type of machine, we were keen to experience the practicalities of the fully electric unit in a range of tasks.
Redesigning its combine track frames to suit installation on the Axion Terra Trac, Claas claims to have engineered the ideal ride quality, traction and ground contour following characteristics for the tractor. We visited a Norfolk user to see how the tractor performs.
NE Salmon Farming is no stranger to rubber tracked tractors. The Great Fransham, Norfolk-based farming family was an early adopter with the original Cat 65 tractor, and has had a succession of rubber-tracked machines for primary cultivations ever since.
The current fleet includes a 17 year old, 9,000 hour example of the legendary Claas 95E which supports a 3,000 hour Challenger MT865C by shouldering about 300 critical hours/year with autumn cultivations. And until last year, the farm also ran an older MT865B.
Ed Salmon, who runs the 1,900ha contract farming operation from Hyde Hall Farm alongside his father, Robert says; “The raw power of a C18 Cat motor takes some beating. The only downside with twin-tack machines is the potential for scuffing on headlands, and a relatively low travel speed.”
But he says all that has changed since the arrival of a Claas Axion half-track last year, in the guise of a pre-series Axion 960TT. The 445hp FPT-powered half-track uses Claas’ CMatic continuously variable transmission, offering a 45kph maximum travel speed.
The task of pumping slurry from a wide variety of towers and lagoons is one that has continued to challenge Totnes, Devon-based Millman Contractors.
But a break-through development in pumping systems by Wox Agri Services has created a safer and more efficient solution that has improved productivity for the family-run general contracting business.
“What we have found is that lagoons and below-ground stores present a much greater challenge than above-ground stores,” he says. “The prospect of standing on the bank of a lagoon, attempting to man-handle at least 12m of suction hose into a pit, is not the safest way of working.
“It is a job that nobody wants to do, but it is an integral part of the process for pumping slurry.”
The answer he was looking for came in the guise of Wox Agri Services’ latest tractor-mounted pumping station, the Walrus. Launched at the 2020 Lamma Show, this high-capacity, pto-driven set has several innovative features to meet the needs of drag-hose contractors.
From the outset, in creating the 8RX, it looks as though John Deere has simply stuck a set of tracks onto a normal four wheeled tractor. But delve a little deeper and you will soon find it is an entirely different story.
Sharing only the engine, cab and bonnet with its wheeled equivalent, it is clear there has been a lot of work gone into the 8RX, creating what is effectively a brand new tractor.
The transmission casing alone is now the largest single cast piece that Deere and Company produces – this includes all of its agricultural, construction and forestry equipment.
Four models of 8RX are available from 310-410hp (rated), complementing four, twin-track 8RT and five, wheeled 8R models. Apart from the flagship 8RX 410, which is only available with the firm’s e23 full powershift transmission, all other 8RX models can be specified with either e23 or its AutoPowr continuously variable transmission (CVT).