Cover Story: John Deere X9 1100

By: Mark Fouhy


This latest addition to the John Deere line-up is certainly a mighty machine in more ways than just size and scale

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Delivering an impressive 45-foot cut with every pass

Over the busy harvest season, the team at Drummond & Etheridge, led by Bede Prendergast and operator Thomas Borst, have had the John Deere X9 tackle any South Island crop they could find to put through it, including grass, wheat and barley with the HDX 45-foot front, and direct heading clover, radish and carrot seed crops.

Being a new model, some of these crops were first for the new X9 to harvest worldwide. John Deere makes some pretty big claims around production capabilities of the X9. However, over the course of my time with the Drummond & Etheridge demo machine, it turns out these claims are accurate. In fact, they’re accurate even just under standard working conditions, not just optimal conditions where everything is perfect.

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Boasting 690 max engine horsepower and all-day performance

An example of this is an operation that saw the X9 run for 4 hours 32 minutes, operating around 6km/hr. The results through the John Deere Harvest operations centre showed a rate of 95.3ton/hour harvested. That’s some exciting statistics for big operators out there. Another factor in efficiency is around fuel usage: the X9 was running around 1 litre/ton, 100.5 litres/hour.

With the ability of the X9 confirmed, having the ability to process the crop efficiently is a key factor also in ensuring effective processes. Having a high-capacity machine like the X9 capable of producing 100ton/hour of harvested grain, it’s important to have enough trucks and chaser bin capacity to avoid a bottleneck of harvester trucks to unload.

Cab/Operator Environment

With long hours in the cab a given over harvesting season, having a comfortable work environment for the operator is of high importance. John Deere has clearly taken on board feedback from customers when designing the new X9 cab.

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The new cab design offers the ultimate in comfort and convenience

The harvester is obviously a large machine and equally you won’t be disappointed with the size of the cab, with a total area of 3.68m. The advanced air conditioning system allows the operator to stay comfortable no matter what the temperature outside.

There’s also a decent-sized fridge (25.5 litres), which should fit all smoko and refreshments for the day. Depending on what spec you opt for, the ActiveSeat II, like those fitted to John Deere tractors, also offers leather steering wheel and seat options, which can include cooling and even a back massage function.

In terms of harvester function, the multifunction lever provides a comfortable ergonomic grip. Most header functions, unloading auger controls, and auto steer can be controlled from this one lever. Anything else you want can be programmed to 1 of 6 configurable buttons. This allows different operators to create their own individual profile with all functions setup to their personal preferences. Additionally, the latest technology and software makes operation intuitive (think smart phone swipe type system) and easy to operate, so even those with less hours and experience setting up combines for maximum productivity can be confident.

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The new control centre is packed with time saving efficiencies

All settings can be saved (concave clearance, drum speed, belt speeds etc.) and named so you can bring up previous settings of the same crop and perhaps tweak to suit different conditions. This is all done in the cab through the monitor.

Up to four cameras can be set up to run on the input display, with automatic activation when needed (such as when unloading with the auger). As well as the harvester function, there is the infotainment centre that can connect to phones/devices to play music or allow phone use handsfree.

The new X9 cab boasts a super quiet overall operating environment, with the pressurised cab and electric closing door helping to keep it clean and dust free.

Transmission

John Deere uses the ProDrive XL transmission. The industry-exclusive ProDrive system uses PowerShift transmission technology to automatically shift between two speed ranges as ground conditions and terrain change, to keep the combine harvesting at the desired ground speed. It is straightforward and easy to operate. This uses two smaller hydrostatic motors, which are quieter than the single hydrostatic motor that would traditionally be required to run a machine of this size. This provides power and torque where you need it while working. The ability to shut one off over 20km/hr improves fuel economy by 30%.

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The belly of the beast: using belt drives for greatest efficiency and minimal maintenance

With a top road speed of 40km/hr, the X9 is standard with front axle diff lock. Optional 4wd will allow you to keep harvesting when the crop is right, but conditions underfoot are less than desirable. For the ultimate in traction, you could opt for the five roller front tracks – 610/760/910mm wide, the longer design gives a greater surface area than some other designs. In fact, the 610mm has the same footprint of other brands’ 760mm, without the extra width, on an already-wide machine. The tracks, while providing extra grip, also give lower soil compaction. To have the best of both worlds, the X9 can be fitted with track-ready axle and change between tyres and tracks.

Harvesting Process

A lot of refining of the rotor has been done over time in the John Deere S700 combines. Increasing the feeder house by 23% allows 45% more volume to be fed through to the rotor. This is where the twin rotor system comes in. The 3 in 1 rotor design has been designed with efficiency in mind. Crop flow has been maximised with the large 1.6m concave area for crop-on-crop threshing, minimising grain damage.

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The John Deere X9 offers unprecedented productivity

Concaves are a new design. Weighing less than 10kg they are easily changed and can be mixed and matched to get the optimal separation of different crops. Different rotor speeds can be selected to suit different crops, all of which is done within the cab. Loss sensors then monitor performance, adjusting as required to ensure the harvester is working at optimum levels. With the dual rotors you get a large 22.5m2 separating area. A large 7m2 cleaning area with four turbine fans ensures the highest quality grain is harvested, with minimal losses.

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The 16,200 litre grain tank can be unloaded in under two minutes

Over the course of the extensive demo season, D&E achieved losses as low as 0.6%. They measured Bushel Plus system, which proved that John Deere was on the money with its design, consistently achieving minimal losses, and not leaving the profit on the paddock fed out the back of the machine, as some of the other combines they compared with over the demo season were doing (although some of the other machines could have greatly improved with settings/operation adjustment).

Although straw has been a byproduct of the grain industry, it has grown in demand for bedding and fibre for cattle. The X9 combines have the ability to finely chop the straw to go back into the soil as organic matter and nutrients. Finely spread with straw spreaders, or unchopped, placed in fluffy rows to be baled, allowing the baler pickup to be set higher to try and avoid any rocks.

Overall Size

Combine harvesters are known to be one of the largest pieces of agricultural equipment. Opting for the Global track system, the X9 can be 3.47-4.48m wide. Although a huge machine, a 4.5-degree caster angle with a frame cut out gives an impressive 7.15m turning circle, for faster headland turns and greater maneuverability. The grain tank of the X9 1100 is a huge 16,200 litres, which unloads at a rate of 186ltrs/second. The diesel tank capacity is 1250 litres, enough for a full day’s work, and the fast fill system can have you fuelled and back harvesting in next to no time.

Draper Front

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The 15.2-metre hinged draper front follows the ground for even cutting and harvesting

To handle the capacity of the new X9 harvester, John Deere has designed an equally impressive range of hinged draper (HD) fronts to suit. With three models (HDX/HDF/HDR) available in four sizes, these range from 10.7-15.2m wide. The D&E demo model is fitted with the 13.7m (45 foot) HDX 1200mm-wide belt model. The new grain saver draper belts help minimise dribble losses by up to 25%. If the weather at harvest is difficult, the draper belt will allow you to get going sooner and harvest later, unaffected by moisture levels of the air or the crop.

The dual knife system is shaft driven, for reliability, giving a double cut per stroke allowing you to harvest cleanly with higher ground speed. One of the key points of the new HD fronts is the hinged aspect. Pivoting from the centre of the combine, you have unmatched ground following, with 10 degrees movement +/- on each side, which is enough to get over gateways, saving time unhooking the front between paddocks. The gauge wheels use flotation tyres, supporting 20% of the header’s weight, and help with ground following. Full hydraulic control allows height adjustment from the cab allowing you to raise the head, chopping straw above the rocks, or lowering to harvest down crops, or peas and beans.

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The easy tool free side knife attachment

Another time saver is the quick fit side knives; fitted without tools this can be done in a matter of minutes, allowing you to get back to harvesting.

Summary

The John Deere X9 series is a leap forward in terms of harvesting efficiency and is certainly a beast of a machine. I feel I have only just scratched the surface in terms of new features and design of this new machine, but to say I was impressed is probably an understatement. The all-new cab offers premium finish, taking operator comfort to a whole new level. I suspect operating another combine after experiencing this will almost feel like going back to horse and cart days! Although the price tag (like any of the latest large new equipment) may put some off, with output up to 100 ton/hour or better, and less than 1% losses, results would say it is well worth every penny!

Top Features

  • Huge Capacity, 100ton/hr
  • New hinged dapper fronts 10.7m-15.2m wide
  • Very low wastage, less than 1%
  • Super quiet and comfortable cab
  • Easy-to-use technology for easy harvester adjustment and maximum productivity
  • Fast change over between crop varieties
  • Streamlined cleaning with on-board compressor, with multiple connections
  • Fuel efficient design gets the most out of each litre, 3000Nm of torque available at 1500rpm

John Deere X9 1100

Engine

John Deere

Emission Level  Tier III
Displacement 13.6 litre
Turbo  Dual turbo
Rated Power @1900rpm 450kW/603hp
Max Power/Boosted Power 515kW/690hp (40kW/53hp boost) 
Fuel Tank Capacity 1250 Litres
Feeder House Conveyor Chains x 4
Feeder House speeds 2- 18 or 22 tooth
Degrees of fore/aft tilt 10.5 degrees
Grain Tank 16,200 Litres 
Transmission  ProDrive XL IVT

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