With SIMA, the first of 2017’s big European farm machinery exhibitions, only a couple of months away (26 February-2 March), the organisers of the French show have announced the winners of their Innovation Awards, with two tyre manufacturers taking gold medals and a number of tractor and implement makers awarded silver.
Trelleborg’s load-based variable tyre pressure system is designed to alter combine front tyre pressures according to the load in the combine tank as it increases, to minimise impact on the soil. It also takes into account the effect of side slopes, increasing the pressure in the tyres on the side downhill of the slope to ensure stability and safety, before evening them again when back on level land. French manure spreader maker Dangreville has also been cited for a similar system which varies the tyre pressure on its machines according to the load in the body and the tractor/spreader combination’s speed.
The second gold medal for tyre developments goes to Michelin, with its ‘2-in-1’ field/road tread design. When inflated to road pressure, the tyre has a relatively narrow tread in contact with the ground, while when reduced to field/working pressure, the tyre widens and expands and the entire tread is in ground contact. In this way, the system is said to build on the potential offered by remote tyre inflation systems. At SIMA the innovation will be presented by AGCO’s Massey Ferguson.
The autonomous tractors first revealed by CNH Industrial brands Case IH and New Holland have each been awarded a silver medal, in light of the easing of labour pressures they have the potential to provide. The two tractors, based on the Magnum/T8 platform, differ in that the Magnum is a cabless machine designed to drive itself between fields only on private roads, whereas the T8 version is cabbed, and as such can be driven to the intended field before being left to fulfil its task. Both machines rely on RTK GPS and radar/lidar/sensor technology to ensure safety. New Holland is also granted a special mention for its new high-efficiency cooling system, which consists of only a moderately-sized fan and two cooling circuits for the entire tractor, each managed independently of the other. This is claimed to result in better control of cooling for all components, and lower energy consumption.
Electric power looks likely to be a SIMA theme. Having previously dipped a toe in the water, John Deere is set to show its first tractor offering battery power, this time of up to 300 kW, designed to provide power for high-demand implements. It has been given a special mention both for efficiency and the operator safety it offers by eliminating PTO shaft drive. Meanwhile, French hedge trimmer maker Rousseau has received a silver medal for the electric rotor drive. As well as being more energy-efficient, it reduces the potential for oil to reach environmentally-sensitive soil and water.
A special mention is awarded to Claas for its ‘shredlage’ forage maize harvesting technology, which incorporates a chopping cylinder that slices the material into ‘flakes’, said to make better silage and be of greater use to the cow’s digestive system. JCB wins a silver for its new DualTech hybrid hydrostatic/powershift transmission, combining the benefits of the former for low-speed work and the latter for high-speed use. For baling work, Kverneland earns a special mention for its baler automatic feedrate system.