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Touring Agritechnica 2011

Every second November the German Agricultural Society (DLG) holds Agritechnica, a farm machinery exhibition. With 2,748 exhibitors from 48 countries showing up this year, the demand for floor space filled all the available pavilions on the gigantic Hanover fair ground. In just 14 years, it now claims the title of world’s largest farm equipment fair.

Gate attendance hit a record high this year with about 415,000 people walking through the doors. To put things into perspective, that’s roughly 10 times the number of gate admissions at the Western Canada Farm Progress show in Regina. What attracts all those people are the spectacular displays and the chance to talk to manufacturers’ reps about the newest and best products on the market, anywhere in the world. You can even get a look at a few future technologies. According to DLG, the world comes here to make deals as well, making this one of the primary global meeting spots for manufacturers and end users of farm equipmen.

One of the sure things any visitor to this show can expect is a look at some very entertaining and spectacular displays, and Grainews was there again this year to take a look at some other very eye-catching sights. There will be more articles with details on many of the show’s highlights in this and other issues, but in the meantime, here’s our choice for the most memorable displays.

NEW N SERIES VALTRA

Everyone wants to leave their mark in life, and this year AGCO gave show goers a chance to do that with their fingers. To help emphasize the fact you can customize one of their new N Series Valtra tractors to exactly match your needs, anyone could dip their thumb in some paint and put a fingerprint on the display tractor, then sign underneath it.

After the show closes, a clear top coat will be applied; it will then be put up for auction at a time and location yet to be determined. The funds raised from the sale will be put toward funding an agricultural development project in Africa. If you ever see this tractor, take a look at the right, front rim. You’ll find my thumb print, name and “Grainews.”

The N Series offers a redesigned hood and optional, integrated front-end loader, which brings the bucket closer to the front of the tractor for improved stability. The cab interior has been upgraded including a new control armrest and display screen. The new programmable headland management system offers more preset features. N Series tractors will be available by May, according to product reps.

CHALLENGER’S PYTHON

The Challenger section of AGCO’s display also had a lot to look at, but the belted tractor painted with python graphics really stood out. No, this wasn’t a tribute to the end of the Harry Potter movie series, it was a celebration of 25 years of belted tractor production. “We wanted to impress,” says Luca Cattani, product marketing manager. That, they did. But Cattani says the graphic design wasn’t a random selection, management sees similarities between the belted tractor and the giant snake.

“Both are big, efficient and powerful,” he adds. “A python can go for a long time without food. The Challenger is very fuel efficient. Neither leaves any deep tracks. You can hardly tell where a python or a Challenger have been.

LAVERDA HILLSIDE COMBINE

You couldn’t help but stop and take a closer look at the Laverda display. This is one serious sidehill combine, capable of levelling itself out on grades of up to 40 per cent. It can also level itself in a fore-aft direction, allowing it to go straight up or down steep grades with the same threshing efficiency. But on grades that steep, the ability of this combine to adjust its stance is as much about keeping the shiny side up as maximizing threshing efficiency. Laverda was born in Italy where hillside farming is much more common than here, and the grades there can be very steep.

Last year AGCO acquired majority ownership of the firm, so Laverda combines now use AGCO’s own SISU diesel engines.

Laverda combines use a unique triple-cylinder threshing design, which has been standard on their machines for a while, according to product reps. The first cylinder operates in the normal way and threshes about 70 per cent of the crop. A smaller beater moves the material mat forward into a third threshing cylinder that improves final separation and forms a major part of what the company calls an “active straw walker system”. In very dry conditions the concave on the final cylinder can be moved up and out of contact with the material to improve straw quality and minimize crop damage.

NEW HOLLAND’S NH2 TRACTOR

New Holland first introduced its prototype NH2 Hydrogen-powered tractor at the SIMA farm equipment show in Paris, France two years ago, making it the first model ever publicly shown by a major brand that used hydrogen fuel-cell technology. Two years later, the project is still progressing and the second-generation prototype was at the company’s main display.

Engineers have made a lot of changes based on their experience with the original model. It’s seen a lot of driveline changes.

Hydrogen storage technology has been steadily improving since the original prototype was built and this tractor takes advantage of that with three new fuel cells that offer 340 litres of combined capacity. The previous design only included two. Unfortunately, the effective working range is still limited to about two to three hours. Separate electric motors are used to drive the transmission and PTO, which can run independently of each other.

Beginning next season, this tractor will undergo field trials on a working farm near Turin, Italy. That farm produces grains, livestock and has a bio-gas facility, so hydrogen to fuel the tractor will be made right on site. After the season ends, engineers will evaluate the tractor’s performance and decide how to build their third-generation version.

AGRIFAC CONDOR CLEARANCE PLUS

While high-clearance sprayers are pretty common in Canada, the Europeans have really taken the concept to new heights —literally. Agritechnica once again had a dizzying variety of spraying equipment on display; some, like this Agrifac Condor, offer an adjustable ground clearance of up to two metres. Compare that, for example, to the 1.27 to 1.52 metre clearance offered on John Deere’s North American line-up.

Why so much? According to the Agrifac representatives manning their display, the need to frequently make late season applications of crop protection products in corn and sunflowers is the reason.

The condor offers two tank capacity options, 3,400 or 4,000 litres, and boom widths from 24 to 48 metres. Boom height is adjustable from 50 to 375 centimetres. For power, it relies on a six-cylinder, turbocharged Deutz diesel putting out 196 horsepower. †

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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