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New tech solutions recognised in Agritechnica medal awards

Discover the latest innovations in agricultural machinery - recognised at the recent prestigious Agritechnica Innovation Awards in Germany

Originally scheduled for November 2021 in Hanover, Germany, the biennial show was postponed to 2022, from 27 February to 5 March.

However, just prior to the end of the year, the German organiser, DLG, announced the cancellation of the 2022 show, due to increased COVID-19 regulations and cases.

Agritechnica normally attracts 2800 exhibitors and more than 486,000 visitors to the Exhibition Centre, but early on in the planning, some of the main exhibitors already showed concern about the new dates in 2022.

The NeXaT is designed to carry all the implements needed for tillage work

Major exhibitors John Deere and JCB confirmed they wouldn’t be exhibiting at Agritechnica in 2022 citing bad timing as the main reason. John Deere said that farmers will be in the fields working at the show’s scheduled dates and that will affect visitor attendance figures.

Other manufacturers said they were watching the evolving COVID-19 news carefully.

However, the organisers obviously weighed up the concerns and potential complications, making the announcement to cancel in December. Prior to each Agritechnica, the DLG awards one gold medal and several silver medals to recognise new innovations from the manufacturers and despite the show not going ahead, these still took place.

Gold medal award

German company NeXaT GmbH won the DLG Gold Medal award for its unique NeXaT, which is a carrier vehicle that can carry all implements needed for tillage work.

This saves time and money when compared to travelling to fields each time with a tractor and implement but is essentially designed for larger arable farmers.

With the 12-metre version, the system is designed such that 95% of the total field area is never driven on in the envisaged bed mode, resulting in high yield potentials with good soil and environmental protection.

The RoboVeg Robotti for harvesting broccoli is a joint venture that proved award-winning

The NeXaT is designed as an autonomous working machine and is equipped with a peripheral monitoring system. A cab that can be rotated by 270 degrees is available for process monitoring. This establishes the basis for fully automated machine operation and enables manual vehicle guidance during transport.

The integrated implements are mounted between the four large, electrically driven track running gear units, which can be rotated by 90 degrees for travelling by road. At present, power is supplied by two independent diesel engines, each offering an output of 400kW/545hp, with generators. The vehicle is designed for alternative drive technologies such as fuel cells.

With the integrated NexCo combine harvester module, the NeXaT achieves grain throughputs of 130 to 200 tonnes per hour for the first time. The innovative dual axial-flow concept uses a 5.8-metre-long axial rotor mounted transversely to the direction of travel.

The flow of harvested material is introduced centrally into the rotor and at a tangent to achieve energy efficiency. The rotor divides it into two material flows. This enables roughly twice the threshing performance of conventional machines and establishes the prerequisite for uniform straw and chaff distribution with two choppers, even with a cutting width of 14 metres.

Grain delivery is ensured by a 32 cubic metre grain bunker, as a result of which the combine harvester unit does not require a transfer vehicle on normal-length fields. Transfer to the transport vehicle can take place on the headland with an unloading capacity of 600 litres per second.

Silver medal winners

In total, there were 16 winners of silver medals, including Krone’s new smart technology, ExactUnload, that helps unload silage wagons more accurately and evenly.

With ExactUnload unloading, the new Krone GX roller belt wagon with the front wall running to the rear is controlled so that the transported material can be distributed evenly over a previously defined distance.

In this process, the speed at which the tractor and trailer are moving within the speed window (up to 3.5kph) is irrelevant. This ensures that even inexperienced drivers can always achieve good distribution and the compaction vehicles have less material to redistribute, thus contributing to more uniform compaction and therefore to high silage quality.

Fendt’s automatic dust extraction system won silver

In addition, fuel and time savings are achieved, the material is loosened less due to the wheel slip of the distribution vehicle, and additional capacity is obtained for quality-relevant compaction.

Continental won silver for its Agro ContiSeal, which is a clever system that seals punctures on tyres when they hit a nail or other sharp object, normally in the midst of harvest time.

Due to the size and the weight of the machines and tyres and as a result of the ensuing time and performance losses during the short sowing and harvesting seasons, changing a tyre on the field leads to significant delays in production.

Agro ContiSeal provides a viscous polymer on the inner side of agricultural tyres that seals the leak in the event that the tread is penetrated by foreign bodies.

Despite the damage, the vehicle can continue to be driven and the tyre can be repaired or exchanged later on.

Planungsburo Heinrich won silver for its Photoheyler weeding machine that detects weeds with cameras. Using its rotor concept technology enables area performances of over one hectare per hour to be weeded.

The Photoheyler row guidance function reliably detects crop rows with the aid of the cameras. The machine’s sensor wheels can be steered using hydraulic cylinders and are synchronised with those of the tractor, meaning that they mirror their movements.

The hoeing machine is therefore guided extremely precisely along the rows and the previous difficulties involved in controlling the machine and the tractor at the same time are resolved with the Photoheyler.

Since the hoeing machine is firmly mounted on the tractor, the driver retains control at all times and laborious manual adjustment of the hoeing implement using a joystick is not required.

By oversteering the tractor wheels on a lateral slope, the Photoheyler keeps the vehicle combination on course even on a gradient. The crops are not buried since the rotor is positioned obliquely and the vehicle speed is therefore compensated for.

Continental’s Agro ContiSeal seals punctures on tyres when they hit a nail or other sharp object

As a result of this, the rotor always cuts at an angle of precisely 90 degrees to the crop, whereby the weeds are cut out from the crop row and placed between two rows, after which they are again unrooted or buried by the trailing tools.

Another robotic tool, the RoboVeg Robotti for harvesting broccoli, won silver for a joint venture between Agro Intelligence ApS in Denmark and RoboVeg Ltd.

Helping solve the labour shortage in vegetable farming, the RoboVeg Robotti robot operates with two engines that deliver a total output of 104kW; 40kW of this output can be tapped off at the power take-off shaft.

The RoboVeg is equipped with high-resolution 2D cameras and 3D sensors, and the lifting mechanism has a lifting power of 750kg. Two robot arms that can be swivelled around six axes undertake autonomous broccoli harvesting. A robot arm requires approximately three seconds from selecting the broccoli on the field to putting it down. Its harvesting performance is around 2400 units per hour, whereas performances of only around 300–360 units per hour and worker are achieved in manual harvesting.

While autonomous robots are already available and used for sowing, weed control, and harrowing, automating harvesting has not proved possible until now. The RoboVeg Robotti is the first autonomous system for harvesting broccoli and therefore contributes to significantly improving productivity.

A new soil compaction software system called Terranimo from Class was also awarded the silver medal. This new system shows the driver how high the risk of compaction is under the current operating conditions directly on the terminal in the cab.

In order to calculate this, Claas links information supplied by the Cemos driver assistance system on aspects such as the soil type/condition, axle loads, or tyre pressures with Terranimo, a tool used to simulate soil loading and load-bearing capacity that’s recognised throughout Europe.

Dynamic axle load shifts are also taken into consideration in this process. Red-coloured pressure bulbs, for instance, indicate a high risk of compaction. In this case, the driver can abort the planned operation or implement suitable countermeasures and immediately check the effects of these again.

Fendt won silver for its automatic dust extraction system that recognises the air filter’s soiling level during operation or while driving and cleans it fully automatically without it having to be removed.

With two short but powerful pressure pulses on the inner side of the air filter, through-flow to the outside is achieved. The dust that has deposited on the filter surface is loosened and sucked out of the housing at the same time by means of a vacuum.

The vacuum is produced upstream of the hydrostatically driven cooling air fan, whose rotational speed is temporarily increased. The pressure pulse comes from a separate compressed air reservoir that’s filled with air at a pressure of 12 bar by the compressor.

The automatic cleaning intervals are triggered as soon as the vacuum in the intake system falls below a limit value due to the increased soiling.

The DL 66 Pro Irrigation machine

Muthing won silver for its CoverSeeder, which combines familiar components to form a new intercrop sowing system that incorporates all steps in a single operation.
Specifically, a front-mounted harrow ensures fine soil and improves straw distribution. A trailing flail mulcher shreds the straw and the stubble and removes harvesting residues close to the ground from the seedbed, thanks to the high suction power of the flail rotor.

The total resulting mixture is conveyed over the subsequent seed rail, which places the grains on the exposed bed. The seeds that are placed on the cleared surface of the soil are then covered by the processed organic material. Once the seeds have been sown and covered, a following prism roller ensures the soil contact required to achieve good germination. The roller also guides the height of the CoverSeeder.

Forgoing intensive tillage in combination with a full covering layer of biomass protects the soil from evaporation and erosion and provides the water required for germination even in extremely dry conditions.

German company Rauch won silver for its TerraService, a joint development with AgriCircle AG, that offers farmers a digital service with which they can calculate the navigability of arable land in advance.

The user has to input the machine data required to do this or must call up data that has already been stored. The local soil moisture is estimated by means of radar measurements performed by the Sentinel-1 satellites in combination with weather data.
Supplemented with information regarding the soil structure, this machine and soil moisture data is used to comfortably calculate the navigability of the agricultural land in advance on a portable terminal and is displayed for the specific partial areas in a 10-metre grid.

Claas has developed the first adjustment control technology for auger cutter bars

If necessary, the user is provided with a warning or a message if the ground is not navigable or is only navigable to a certain extent. The sequence in which the fields are driven on, the entry position into large fields, and the processing sequence of the ruts can also be optimised or defined in order to prevent becoming bogged down.

The service is flexible and can be used for various agricultural work processes such as fertilisation, spreading liquid manure, and crop protection and helps farmers to maintain a good soil condition, a good soil structure, and, therefore, a high yield level.

The DirectInject system from Amazonen-Werke won silver. DirectInject resolves the conflict resulting from increased flexibility and the economically advantageous increase in the size of crop sprayers in crop protection. Flexibly dosing both liquid and granulated agents enable an appropriate reaction to the respective situations on the field with the existing system.

An additional benefit is that additional passages are no longer required, thus saving farm inputs such as diesel and labour time. Unused crop protection agents can be returned to the original container, meaning that the quantity of crop protection agent required does not have to be known prior to application and the fate of pre-mixed residual quantities is no longer a concern.

Complete integration into the spray agent circuit and operation of the sprayer via the ISOBUS system equate to both simple operation and automatic cleaning via the crop sprayer’s Comfort-Pack plus.

The DL 66 Pro irrigation machine from Fasterholt in Denmark also took a silver medal. This is a combination of a mobile irrigation machine with machine advance and a mounted nozzle carriage consisting of an innovative telescopic and hydraulically foldable 66 meters aluminium boom.

The general advantages of nozzle carriages compared to large sprinklers are that firstly, they offer resource-efficient irrigation at a low pressure (approximately one to two bar depending on the nozzle that’s used) and close to the ground, and secondly, they enable precise demarcation of the working area.

This low pressure compared to the canon saves energy, while at the same time, the droplet range exhibits a low percentage of fine droplets, which minimises evaporation.

The advantages of the mobile irrigation machine with it being a self-propelled vehicle are its higher possible pipe length, up to approximately 1000 metres, as the machine picks up the flexible pipe from the ground and winds it up instead of dragging its entire length over the ground.

The Muthing CoverSeeder new intercrop sowing system

CNH’s OptiSpread Automation System was another silver medal winner. New Holland has developed this system, the first chopped material distribution system with direct measurement technology. 2D radar sensors mounted on both sides of the combine harvester measure the speed and the throw of the chopped material.

The sensors register the entire throw and, therefore, the distribution pattern. If the distribution pattern no longer corresponds to the nominal distribution pattern over the entire working width, the rotational speed of the hydraulically driven feed rotors on both sides is accordingly increased or reduced separately until the distribution pattern once again corresponds to the nominal pattern. The technology registers irregular chopped material distribution even with a tailwind or headwind and additionally enables a distribution map to be produced.

The Cemos Auto Header from Claas won silver for developing the first adjustment control technology for auger cutter bars.

A laser scanner continuously registers the height of the crop. Once the operator has specified the nominal immersion depth of the reel into the crop and the nominal horizontal position, they are adapted automatically as the crop height changes. The system recognises tramlines and the end of a crop and conducts any bundles of cereals that fall from the cutter bar table to the intake auger.

The length of the cutter bar table is adjusted for the throughput controller in the intake duct depending on the layer thickness sensor’s vibrations. The more uniform the flow of harvested material, the lower the sensor’s vibrations.

The Big Baler Automation system from CNH Industrial New Holland is now the first system in which an operator can set the desired bale weight directly on an agricultural square baler. Talking silver, this system then foresightedly and independently undertakes machine guidance and regulation of both the tractor’s speed and the baler settings.

This is a crucial evolution towards fully automatic operation of a square baler. A LiDAR sensor (Light Detection and Ranging) optically measures the windrow ahead of the tractor by means of a laser, and an IMU sensor detects the tractor’s acceleration and orientation.

The information from the tractor’s GPS sensor is additionally processed to achieve even greater accuracy. The tractor is, therefore, guided fully automatically over the windrow and its speed is adapted foresightedly to the windrow conditions.

At the same time, the data that’s collected is used to constantly pre-calculate the bale weight in order to adjust the baling pressure setting and, via the vehicle speed, the layer thicknesses of the individual piston strokes. As a result of this, the baler is continuously running at high capacity even in the case of changing harvesting and yield conditions, and the same pre-set bale weight is always achieved.

Swedish manufacturer Agtech 2030 won silver for its Compaction Prevention System (CPS), another tool to asses soil compaction in the field.

The system offers users decision-making aids regarding the risk of soil compaction and helps to decide where and when work should be carried out on the fields in the specific vehicle configuration.

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