Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Futuristic combines - Enhanced automated features are the big selling point of a new range of combines from Case IH

 

Case 250 series.
Case 250 series.

Derek Casey and Chris McCullough

Three new combines that make up the Axial-Flow 250 series have just been launched by Case IH in a bid to maximise operator efficiency and crop quality.

The new models - 7250, 8250 and 9250 -replace the Case IH 240 series and will go into production this October, ready to be rolled out for the 2019 harvest.

There have been a number of new automated features added to the 250 series which the manufacturer says will allow operators to ensure they are driving the combine at maximum efficiency whilst ensuring grain quality is also the best it can be.

Replacing the 7240, 8240 and 9240 models in the older 240 series, the 250 series will focus on more automated changes to settings when tackling varying crop conditions during harvest.

Sam Acker, Case IH global product manager for flagship combines, said the new machines will be ready for most markets ahead of the 2019 season.

He said: "Production of the Case IH Axial-Flow 250 series combines will start this October in time to have machines ready for the global 2019 harvest season.

"The US, Canadian and UK markets will also have the 250 Series machines ready for work next year," he said.

August von Eckardstein, Case IH harvesting product marketing manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "The 250 series Axial-Flow upgrades focus on improving both combine and operator productivity.

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"Our aim has been to aid decision-making and make front-to-rear settings easier for a particular desired outcome. In this way, the combine can not only help to enhance an experienced operator's performance, but can also help a less-experienced one to quickly gain confidence and get the most from the machine."

Automated sensors take charge

One of the major changes for the new 250 series is the completely new technology in AFS Harvest Command automation which utilises 16 sensor inputs to continuously monitor the machine, and adjusts seven different settings to maximise combine performance.

The full AFS Harvest Command automation package also features new in-cab pre-sieve adjustment.
The full AFS Harvest Command automation package also features new in-cab pre-sieve adjustment.

Operators can manage this new technology through the in-cab AFS Pro700 terminal. The automation system is currently capable of working in wheat, oilseed rape/canola, corn/maize and soybeans.

Just a few selections according to crop type and conditions allow the operator to set the machine to perform to a desired outcome.

There are a number of options on the AFS Harvest Command to suit the level of experience of the operator, the crop condition and type, as well as the harvesting conditions.

The basic version of AFS Harvest Command features the proven Automatic Crop Settings (ACS) system. This adjusts operating items such as fan speed and concave clearance according to the crop type selected on the AFS terminal screen, eliminating the need to make individual element settings. 

Throughput

The operator is able to adjust the combine on the go and save the settings for future use.

A new 6.1-tonne lift capacity is available on the largest Axial-Flow models, to enable them to handle 13.5m heads.
A new 6.1-tonne lift capacity is available on the largest Axial-Flow models, to enable them to handle 13.5m heads.

The next version, with Feedrate Control, adjusts ground speed based on crop load to cater for a desired outcome, performance to control losses, maximum throughput, or fixed throughput. 

The operator sets the target maximum engine load and ground speed, and Feedrate Control will operate up to those limits. The new Feedrate Control system more accurately controls ground speed based on crop and ground drive load. Feedrate Control, which can be used as a stand-alone function, works in all crop types.

The top specification option is full AFS Harvest Command automation, which automatically makes threshing and cleaning system adjustments based on the same desired outcomes as Feedrate Control, with the addition of grain quality monitoring.

This uses camera-based technology and sieve pressure sensing to provide further guidance to the machine’s automatic adjustment process to minimise impurities in the grain sample and maintain the best grain quality, a trait for which the Axial-Flow combine has earned its reputation. 

Lotting a path to reduce soil damage from compaction

THE first pass of a vehicle through a field creates the most compaction through the soil profile beneath its wheels/tracks.

Any way in which farmers can minimise the passage of subsequent operations beyond those paths could significantly limit further soil damage – and need not be difficult or costly to achieve.

That was the message from precision farming specialist

Ian Beecher-Jones, who outlined some of the measures farmers can take to minimise the risk of soil structure damage, and assess

and repair existing issues, at the 2018 Case IH launch in Dresden.

Small improvements in management practices could have widespread impacts on cost savings, said Mr Beecher-Jones, who runs a global precision farming consultancy business.

“Soil type is largely irrelevant, with most affected in one way or another, while studies show measurable financial effects on crop establishment costs and yield from reduced traffic and consequent compaction.”

Preventing compaction creation is preferable to and cheaper than alleviating it.

“To rectify problems and maintain structure, natural and mechanical means can each help. Encouraging earthworm populations and using cover crops are examples of natural aids.

“Mechanically, auto-steering systems guided by an RTK signal with its 2.5cm repeatable accuracy mean reducing the level of trafficked land within fields need not be a complex process requiring high levels of additional investment.

“Farmers should consider the best way to work a field to minimise traffic – particularly when harvesting and transporting crops.

“But at other times of the year they shouldn’t be afraid to be flexible to reduce traffic in a practical manner that suits their system best.

“If, in some years – a wet season or when a non-combinable crop is in the rotation, for example – it’s not possible to exactly follow previous lines, that isn’t the end of the world. Reducing traffic as much as possible over time will still bring about great benefits,” said Mr Beecher-Jones.

The same holds true if land must be worked at an angle or has to be ploughed for weed seed burial or soil restructuring, he said.

Such processes might take controlled traffic a step backwards, but if they are necessary for improved agronomy then farmers should not be afraid of that.

“What’s essential is that, whatever the operation, traffic should be minimised at the time. Apart from following the same paths wherever possible, that means considering the impact on those paths.

“Could tractor tyres with narrower, longer footprints help to spread weight better, and are the ones fitted being operated at the best pressure for the task?

“ Is the tractor weighted properly to minimise wheel slip? Are tracks a better option given the soil type and work circumstances? And is it feasible to alter the track widths of a farm’s tractors so they match as closely as possible? Any marginal gains will ultimately be of benefit.”

The harvest process has a significant effect on land throughout the following year, he concluded.

Studying harvest maps show strong correlation between low yield areas and zones of soil compaction, but harvesting techniques themselves can have a big impact on soil damage ahead of the following crop.

“A complete CTF system isn’t necessary to ensure tractors are positioned carefully during loading,” continued Mr Beecher Jones.

“Unloading augers offering extra throw from their end-pieces can help here. And considering tracked front drive units could help to keep the weight of the combine itself within smaller, narrower bands.

“Lastly, if a combine isn’t due for replacement soon but its working width doesn’t suit a reduced traffic plan, replacing the header alone could be considered as a relatively lower-cost option for those seeking sooner results.”

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