Digital technology can help to substantially improve the work quality of machines such as for example self-guiding systems based on GPS RTK enabling high pass accuracy, in particular when carrying out mechanical weeding.
Nevertheless, technology should not neglect the basic principles of applied physics, the first of which is the notion of tractorimplement linkage and “convergence”.
The DynaTrac offered by Laforge (Gold-Medal – cf photo above) is a universal guidance interface for implements coupled behind the tractor (not specific to an implement and/or to particular conditions).
This DynaTrac interface allows the implement tool to move independently from the tractor. The whole implement/interface and tractor unit is free. The trajectory correction is established by the pulling line. This is defined by the lower arms converging intersection as viewed from above. The modification of this geometry corrects deviations without creating any other restriction on the tractor or the implement (no need for trajectory maintenance
discs). Trajectories are more accurate, and equipment can work in better conditions.
Claas, meanwhile, lifts the major obstacle to the use of crawler tracks in agriculture, in particular on forage harvesters: ground churning at headlands which leads to soil deterioration. On the Jaguar 960 Terra Trac (Gold-Medal), an ingenious system raising the front roller is triggered beyond a certain turning angle, reducing U-turn churning and therefore the deterioration of topsoil. The average pressure of the remaining surface area (approximately 60%) is even lower than a set of standard tyres.
Still in the perspective of protecting soil, central tyre inflation solutions are becoming more widespread. Their adoption is sometimes hampered by relatively long inflation or deflation times to adjust between field pressure and road pressure. Sodijantes industrie proposes an innovative solution in its Tank Air Wheel (Silver Medal), directly incorporated into the wheel rim, immediately next to the tyre to be inflated. With this integrated system, which is compatible with all types of tyres, inflation time is substantially reduced. It is possible, almost immediately, to obtain the right pressure in the right place and at the right time.
A wider variety of crops
In the area of cereal and row crop harvesting, farming is shifting towards a wider variety of crops, thereby entailing more complex harvesting conditions. To cater to these challenges, Claas offers the Convio Flex header (Bronze Medal – cf photo above) which enables the harvesting of all types of crop (laid cereals, rape seed, peas,fava beans, grass seeds, etc.) and very close to the ground if necessary. This cut is totally flexible at cutter bar level. The shape of the header reduces loss of product without requiring the use of compressed air nozzles. The conveyor belt, moving proportionally to the forward speed, feeds the harvest regularly into the threshing units.
Precision and application quality
The work quality of machines also relies on good design but also the optimisation of their conditions of use. In the area of centrifugal distributors, the final distribution is partly affected by the influence of wind on the projection of fertiliser. Amazone proposes its WindControl system (Bronze Medal) whose role is to instantaneously measure wind characteristics during spreading and modify the settings of the implement accordingly (notably the dropping points of the fertiliser pellets on the discs). The quality of spreading therefore remains constant, regardless of the effects of a moderate wind. The system alerts the user in the event of excessive winds so that they can stop spreading.
Still in the area of application quality, the Blaster sprayer by Arbos (Bronze Medal) uses an articulated chassis where the rotation pin, instead of being placed on the drawbar as on most trailed sprayers on the market, is placed near the rear axle, which itself is close to the boom. This original arrangement offers the advantage of keeping the boom perpendicular to the initial trajectory and therefore treating crops along the full width, as close as possible to the end of the field at the same time as the tractor begins its U-turn. In addition, the turning radius of the coupled unit is substantially reduced (less than 4 m).
The performance of machines also applies to their fuel consumption. Lowering this consumption is both a legal obligation and a matter of common sense. With the Eco-Stop function (Bronze Medal), Manitou helps to substantially lower fuel consumption and increase the lifespan of the engine by reducing its idling periods. The Eco-Stop fitted to Manitou telehandlers shuts down the engine when the operator leaves the cabin, after a period of time which is adjustable according to driving patterns and seven measured criteria. This intelligent system is a response to an observation: 30% of the running time of a farm telehandler happens with the engine idling and the driver absent from the cab.
Maintenance and re-use of machines
Standards in terms of machine performance are increasingly stringent, raising their prices and making their maintenance particularly sophisticated. On its sprayers, Berthoud offers the long-term rental solution Berthoud Rent (Bronze Medal) which combines a rental contract with a comprehensive service to monitor, check up and maintain the machine on site. The originality of the Berthoud Rent service lies in the possibility of including within the contact the cost of wear parts (including nozzles) and two visits per year (conducted by the dealer and a Berthoud technician).
The end-of-life of machines is also at the heart of concerns. This is the issue that Manitou has taken on in its process for the re-use of Manitou telehandlers at the end of their useful life (Bronze Medal). The organisational, economic and environmental approach adopted by Manitou offers a perspective for the reuse of equipment components for a second – or subsequent – life. The holistic nature of the approach is rewarded here, combining life-cycle analysis, streamlining of operations and a search for technical value capture.
By Jean-Marc Bournigal, chairman of the judging panel and Gilbert Grenier, Frédéric Vigier, René Autellet, technological advisers to SIMA, judge rapporteurs.