Last month John Deere revealed its 2018 product line to farm media at its Moline Harvester Works facility in Illinois. That was an appropriate place to unveil the line, because arguably the most significant new machines to join the green line — at least as far as Prairie farmers will be concerned — were updated versions of the S600 Series combines: the new higher-tech S700s.
“It’s a new era of crop harvesting with the new John Deere S700 combine,” said Cyndee Smiley Dolan, division marketing manager. “We’ve evolved from the S600.”
The new series includes four models, ranging from the Class 6 S760 to the Class 9 S790. (The brand isn’t yet ready to offer a Class 10 combine, according to a product rep.) Most of what separates previous S600s from the new S700s is hidden behind the sheet metal in the four new models. They get an upgrade in “smart” technology and data collection and transfer along with a nod to operator comfort, according to Deere.
“You might wonder what’s different,” Dolan went on. “It kind of looks the same. That’s because the new features are built inside the machine. You’ll see a new level of machine optimization technology.”
The goal of the technology is to make the S Series more efficient machines by offering enhanced and even some automated functions. The 700s accomplish that with the Combine Advisor system, which is a suite of seven different features that help set, optimize and then automate threshing functions to keep the combine working at peak performance throughout the day with little input from the operator.
Combine Advisor includes a new harvest setup application, which is a single screen that the operator uses to set all the initial threshing parameters. “It’s a true ‘one and done,’” said Dolan. It uses a more intuitive screen layout — something all the combine function pages get.
Harvest Smart, the ground speed control feature that was included on the S600s has evolved to make for smoother on-the-go unloading and re-entry into crop.
A pair of cameras on the clean grain and tailings elevators allows operators to see what’s going on inside the machine. They give a real-time look at the quality of grain going into the tank and MOG (material other than grain) will make threshing adjustments easier.
“It’s really easy to see those live images,” Dolan added. “You push a button and you can see the material going through the machine. And the combine, itself, looks at that visual data and processes it. That’s where the new Auto Maintain feature comes in.”
Using those images along with data from a series of sensors, the combine’s computer can identify opportunities to automatically adjust up to five different settings (cleaning shoe fan speed, rotor speed, concave clearance, chaffer and sieve openings) to improve threshing performance. And it can do that analysis in five different crops, including wheat and canola.
That would be a particularly useful feature as conditions change throughout the day. It also allows less-experienced operators to do a better threshing job.
The Active Yield feature uses load cells in the grain tank to automatically calibrate the mass flow sensor, which should improve the accuracy of crop data collected by the on-board computer.
When it comes to operator comfort, the S700s get an updated cab. Inside, the new 4600 Command Center display is the main operator interface with the machine. This interface is common to Deere tractor and sprayers as well, so operators in an all-green fleet don’t need to learn an entirely new system. It uses customizable run screens and an optional second monitor is available. Customizable buttons on the control panel allow each operator to set their own preferences.
“The S Series has been in the market since 2012, but we’ve continued to evolve it,” said Dolan. “Touching most major areas of the combine. That’s resulted in a 15 per cent increase in performance since it was launched.”
That performance increase comes in part from three recent improvements to the S Series, according to Dolan: the Dyna Flow Plus cleaning shoe that reduces tailings, Active Concave Isolation, which is a hydraulic system that holds the concaves steady, and platform tilt that allows the header to be tilted up to 17 degrees from the cab.
Up front, new 700D rigid Draper headers incorporate a series of design improvements, including a new centre feed-section drive system. A top crop auger with an 18-inch diameter helps improve material flow and reduce slugs in wet conditions. The header also gets a centre section seal kit to cut losses in that part of the header by up to 45 per cent when harvesting canola.