Surrounded by a group of English-speaking farm writers, Lukas Voss, a product specialist at Germany-based equipment manufacturer Lemken, walks around one of that brand’s Heliodor 9 compact discs in a farm field in Hungary in late June. The field demos were part of an international press event, held to show off Lemken’s 2016 equipment line.
“It (the Heliodor 9) has the smallest discs but widest working widths,” he says about where that implement fits into the brand’s tillage offerings. “We’ve had this machine on the market since the beginning of this year. The Heliodor 9 replaces the Heliodor 8.”
When paired with the Gigant trailing hitch system, the Heliodor 9 can be ordered with a maximum working width of 16 metres (about 52.5 feet). The Gigant carrier connects four independent, 4-metre Heliodor 9 implements together on two separate sections that can fold forward for road transport.
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The Heliodor 9s mount on the Gigant carrier via a three-point hitch linkage, and each hitch has a centre pivot to allow the Heliodors to follow ground contours independently. That enhances the system’s ability to easily follow irregular field surfaces.
“In the bigger systems, we call them the Gigant systems,” says Voss. “We start with eight metres and go to 16 metres. In the previous years, we stopped at 12 metres. Now we have one more machine. The reason for it is farmers asked for more hectares per hour.”
As part of the design update from the previous Heliodor 8 Series, the new 9 Series also gets 45 mm larger disc diameters, bumping them up to 510 mm.
“In the Heliodor 8 generation we had 465 mm discs, and now we have 510,” he continues. “So that means we can work a bit deeper. And also we have now a bit more bearing material.”
Discs on the Heliodor mount to the frame with an individual linkage rather than a gang arrangement, so each disc can ride over obstructions, like stones, independently, while the others remain at the proper operating depth.
“That’s something we have in all our compact discs,” Voss says. “Our objective is to have perfect ground penetration. So the machine will adapt to ground conditions.”
All discs in each row face the same direction. The first row moves soil to the left. Discs in the second row face the opposite direction and move the soil back to the right. That, according to the company, improves the Heliodor’s ability to crumble and mix clumps and organic material.
“The disc angle is 16.5 (degrees),” says Voss. “But they have a second angle, 10 degrees, to the ground. So they do not only cut the soil, they lift it up. They throw the soil a bit higher to get better mixing. That’s especially important in dry conditions.”
With independent disc connections, the Gigant System allows farmers to set the working depth of the discs directly behind the tractor tires a little deeper to compensate for the tire tracks. That ensures a level field surface behind the implement.
“In plowed ground you always have wheel marks from the tractor,” explains Voss. “That means you have to go deeper to eradicate those marks. But going deep means more pulling force and higher diesel consumption.”
“Now we can go deeper with only some discs. When a farmer orders a Heliodor, he can say what his (tractor) wheel track width is and we can let down those discs more than the others. That means we can go faster and we don’t need to move so much soil.”
“The idea for this Heliodor from the beginning was we wanted to have a machine you could use in different conditions. The main focus of this machine is shallow stubble cultivation. We use this implement also for seedbed preparation. It has the ability to level the field. When we have a lot of organic material we can use this machine for mixing it. With the high speed of the disc, we have a high mixing rate. That is why we can use this machine for a lot of different conditions. That’s why we have the Heliodor 9 in our product range.”
But for producers who want a more aggressive tillage implement, Lemken offers the Rubin 12 compact disc.
“Farmers wanted a machine that they can work deep in a field with a lot of organic material,” Voss says. “Farmers would use a cultivator in these fields, but with tines you have trouble with the organic material, because you don’t cut it. With the Rubin 12 we cut it and mix it in.”
With a disc diameter of 736 mm, the Rubin 12 can work as deep as 20 cm. And unlike the Heliodor, the Rubin 12 uses a symmetrical disc configuration.
“On the Heliodor 9 all discs in each row are arranged the same way,” says Voss. “Here, on the Rubin 12, we have a different arrangement of the discs. We have a symmetrical disc arrangement. The benefit is we now have no side forces. Because of the disc angles, machines normally want to go to one side. In this machine we don’t have that problem with side forces, because we a 100 per cent symmetrical disc arrangement.”
The Rubin 12 also has tine harrow teeth between the disc rows to help further break down clumps and mix organic material in with the soil. The Rubin 12 is available in working widths up to seven metres (23 feet).
“We have a higher mixing intensity and it can handle more organic material,” says Voss.