Test: Claas Jaguar 970

By: Jaiden Drought


Claas is dominating the world market in forage harvesters, so expectations were high when getting behind the wheel of the new Jaguar 970

With glorious Waikato countryside providing a scenic backdrop to rival anywhere in the world, our terrain, however, was in stark contrast to the large open fields of the German countryside where these machines can commonly be found. Faced with sharp undulating contour and steep hillsides – the real horsepower-sucking stuff – fortunately, our Jaguar 970 test machine comes well equipped to deal with such a challenge.

Engine

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MAN v12 24.24L engine

Now if you want to see an impressive engine, simply open any of the three-rear panels for an expansive view of the transverse 800hp, 24.24-litre V12 MAN engine. This is a proper weapon, equipped with a 1200-litre fuel tank to keep up with the ferocious appetite for crop.

The engine is fitted crossways across the machine for efficiency. The main drive comes straight off the end of the crank, with no additional power losses through angle gearboxes.

This means one large belt running down the side of Jaguar 970 runs a direct powerband drive between the engine to the chopping unit, the accelerator, infinitely variable length of cut adjustment, the corn cracker and the variable front attachment drive. So, lots in other words.

While the ridiculously impressive size of the engine will keep a smile on any drivers face, the ‘Dynamic Power’ function will keep the one paying the gas bill happy as well. As the machine enters the crop, it’s at full power. When the crop doesn’t max out the output of the machine, the 10 step dynamic power steps in. This means engine output is reduced as well as a claimed 10.6% fuel saving. The automatic engines speed reduction to 1400rpm at the headlands and 1290rpm for road transport is another handy feature, saving up to an additional 10% on fuel and getting between jobs faster than ever before.

In the saddle

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Low stubble height of just 85mm from Claas Orbis 750 C-Flex

Driving a chopper can be a little overwhelming, as the whole symphony of machines associated with harvesting, along with heavy expectations from the boss and the client all rest on your shoulders. Claas has recognised this and has included in the design several driver aids to keep stress levels in the hot seat to a minimum.

CEMOS Auto Performance keeps chopper output at the maximum possible efficiency. When the engine load decreases, forward speed increases; these machines love being fully loaded with constant crop flow and maize silage, in particular, is a comfortable crop to chop because it does exactly this.

Getting technical

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Cam Pilot Row Finder

Cam Pilot is a twin lens camera that picks up the swath (when chopping grass) and converts this into a three-dimensional image, which the steering then responds to. So, in essence, the Jaguar is being guided by the windrow. For maize, the ‘row sense’ is the equivalent.

Two finger sensors detect the precision planted rows and guide the machine to keep on the straight and narrow so to speak.

Once experienced, a must-have for me is the Auto Fill function. Now upgraded to automatically load the trailer while ‘opening up’ behind the machine, not just alongside, this is a huge game changer for the tight, sharp-cornered sprawling paddocks we have in New Zealand.

The main advantage here is that you can keep your eyes on what’s going into the machine as well as potential obstacles and crop flow, all without needing to have eyes in the back of your head while you and the trailer snake around the edges of some meandering paddock you’ve never been to – often in the bloody dark.

The tech behind this innovation is a camera mounted under the spout. This creates a 3D outline of the trailer or truck top, and then simply keeps the spout within the boundary of that bin – you beaut.

The upgraded ‘Comfort cabin’ is plush and comfortable to spend the day. Equipped with the large CEBIS spec’d touchscreen display and CMOTION controller, which Claas tractor operators should be more than familiar with. Personally, I like the ‘table tennis paddle’ type hand controller. The thump movement from spout to flap controller seemed more natural on the ‘older’ style but like anything new, the CMOTION is something you will get used to.

Crop flow

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Farm Trader’s Jaiden Drought checking out the results

Right in the heart of the Jaguar 970 is where the business happens. You can have all the power in the world, but without an efficient crop flow, it will all be in vain. Forage harvesters by nature are intrinsically complex. However, crop flow is not a complex process in itself but the science behind it is, so I will do my best to keep it brief and avoid an information coma.

First you need to keep foreign objects out. Obviously, if you don’t, the machine will let out a primaeval scream, as knives are shorn off the drum and sound like they are coming through the cab floor – absolute bedlam. Luckily, this should all be a thing of the past, as ‘Direct Stop’ will kick in when the five-section metal detector or ‘stop rock’ is triggered.

If this does go off, a pinpoint location is sent to the in-cab monitor and there’s two-stage reversing. You can either reverse the front attachment on its own or the front attachment and the feeder unit together.

New features

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Easy access rear for ease of maintenance

Hydraulic pre-compression is another new feature whereby two hydraulic rams with pressure accumulators apply a specific degree of pressure to the crop. When there’s a reduction in crop flow, the pre-compression rollers will adjust to always exert the same pressure on the crop layer. This is the only way to consistently ensure good chop quality, something almost impossible to do with spring pre-compression.

Once the crop enters the chopping cylinder, a true feat of engineering happens. Claas has five drum variants all called the ‘V-Max’.

V Max 42: 42 knives with up to 25,200 cuts per minute. Lengths of cut from 3.5 to 12.5.

The V-Max 36/28/24 are the more common drums here in New Zealand and Australia. The beauty of the new drums is that when running a half set of knives for grass silage, the position of the knife carriers themselves can be turned, so the knives end up staggered and look like the cleats on a tractor tyre. This means more uniform chop length, not chop, gap, chop like how it often happens when running a half set.  

The hydraulically locked shear bar is another new feature. The shear bar with the mounting block is pivoted precisely towards the knife drum, which is rotating forwards. The hydraulic system releases the side shear bar clamp and secures it again once the adjustment is complete. This, along with the automatic adjustment of the drum concave. As the shear bar is adjusted, the drum concave is automatically positioned relative to the knife drum. This means consistent chop length and reduced wear on the knives after each sharpen.

Drive, axles, and tyres

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Claas Jaguar smart simplistic crop flow concept

The drive on the new Jaguars come in the form of two variable displacement hydrostats, essentially double drive. The beauty here is that you get more power and control on the hills, and then when the power isn’t needed, it simply reduces the load on the driveline, and as a result, the headland and road rpm can be dropped considerably to 1400 and 1290rpm, respectively.

If the going gets gnarly, the axles can be ‘diff-locked’ with a multi-disc clutch. When the diff-lock is set to auto, it will lock the front drive units together and will auto disengage when over 15km/hr or there’s a steering or braking correction.

Tyre pressure control system is becoming more popular on tractors but has been on Claas Jaguars for more than a decade. Tyre pressures can be reduced for fieldwork and automatically pumped up for when on the road. This ensures the ideal pressure to get the machine home safely and with the least possible wear in all scenarios.

NIR sensor

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Claas Jaguar efficient driveline concept

I don’t remember using a ‘near-infrared spectroscopy’ in my science class but jeepers, it sounds technical. A light is beamed through the crop from the top side of the spout. As the crop flows through, the light bounces back, giving a reading on not only the moisture content but also starch, protein, fibre, and fat ash content. This has been proven and accepted by the DLG test lab. It also allows for farmers and contractors to get a printout at the end of each job with all crop data, along with the start and end time, area, and DM yield – a truly great feature.

Claas has taken this one step further to include the automatic length of cut adjustment. This will vary based on the DM of the crop passing through the NIR sensor. If the desired cut length is say 14mm at 35% DM, the machine can be set to vary the length of cut by +/- 3mm to retain the desired DM%. The machine will automatically make these adjustments throughout the paddock, as outside rounds, trees, exposed areas, etc. can all have quite different DM%. As a result, the farmer gets the ideal chop length across the whole crop, not just what the machine was initially set to.

Other features worth mentioning

  • LED work lights on the cab roof, at the rear, and on the upper discharge chute where they pivot with the crop flow, allowing night-time harvesting operations to be monitored easily
  • Three different kernel processors are available: classic, max, and Shredlage (which our test 970 was equipped with). This concept allows maize plant to be cut longer (up to 30mm), and it almost shreds the plant rather than straight cutting (hence the name), which aids animal fibre digestion, while the 50% speed differential between the two KP rollers pulverises the kernel.
  • New ORBIS
  1. The test machine was fitted with the ORBIS 750 (10 row), which has five parts that stack fold and unfold in just 15 seconds.
  2. Auto contour activates when the head is placed in the float position. The hard-wearing skids ensure the low stubble height of 80mm is achieved while the wing sensors ensure the head floats with the contours of the ground.
  3. The combination of small and large drums and row fingers give clean crop cut and constant flow to the feed rollers.
  4. For maintenance, all grease nipples only need a squirt every 250 hours, while the gearbox oils only need changing every 2500 operating hours (after the initial oil change).

Summary

In terms of sheer numbers, the cost of forage harvesters is staggering. Equally (and thankfully), so is the throughput these machines can achieve. And when you consider the impressive technology on-board, it all starts to add up.

The ability for New Zealand to get the Jaguar 970 with the huge V12 MAN engine, without the emissions wizardry of the Tier 5 machines is a real bonus.

Claas has been market leaders in the forager game since the onset really, and the technology behind their latest offering will not disappoint. It not only makes the operators life easier but maintenance and adjustment features also means wear parts last longer for the owner. The constant automated adjustment ensuring the farmer receives top-notch forage is a real game changer. 

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