2018 was another year of technological breakthroughs to help farmers, writes Jason Webb
One of the unique machines which came to our notice in 2018 was the Canadian bale collecting trailer that made its working debut at the UK’s Grassland event.
Anderson Group, Quebec, Canada’s machine can pick up wrapped round bales from the field on the move with no risk of damaging the wrapping.
The RBM2000 PRO trailer transforms collecting bales into a fast one-machine operation.
It can do this thanks to an innovatively designed lifting arm, which features a bale detector that initiates the loading sequence as soon as the arm contacts the bale.
As the tractor and trailer approach the bale, the arm slides forward.
As soon as contact with the bale is made, the arm can slide backwards so while tractor and trailer continue to move forwards, the arm is effectively stationery in relation to both the bale and ground.
This enables it to gain a secure grip on the bale and lift it without scuffing it on the ground, which eradicates the risk of damaging the wrapping film.
The trailer can carry 20 bales, with two lines of seven on the bottom and a single line of six placed on top of them, with loading time typically being 20 seconds per bale.
Our look back at 2017 includes Case IH unveiling three multi-purpose tractors in the Farmall range — the 55hp 55A, 65hp 65A and 75hp 75.
Their attractive new styling with a sloping bonnet for excellent forward visibility adds up to a more aggressive, muscular look beyond their power range.
That power is supplied by 2.9-litre turbocharged/intercooled engines developed by FPT that achieve maximum power from 1,900rpm to 2,300rpm, providing a 400rpm Constant Power band, with peak torque produced at 1,400rpm.
The standard transmission on two-wheel-drive models is a 30km/hr 12×12 Mech-Shuttle, while four-wheel-drive models are equipped with a 40km/hr 12×12 Mech-Shuttle.
The optional 40km/hr 20×20 Creeper transmission provides a minimum forward speed of just 110m/hr, while the optional Powershuttle offers clutch-less operation, ideal for many farmyard tasks that require frequent changes of direction.
All models feature a Case IH front axle that is three-point-linkage and loader ready, enabling these to be fitted quickly and easily.
The latest-generation Komatsu WA320-8 wheel loader arrived in Ireland in March.
First developed for use in quarries, major civil works and construction projects, the WA320-8 is now available as a purpose-built, agriculture and silage specific loader.
Able to perform as comfortably in the silage pit, grain and feed store as it does in the aggregates and construction sites, the Dash 8 version embodies all of its predecessor’s recognised benefits such as highoutput, reduced fuel consumption, and improved operator comfort.
Powered by Komatsu’s latest ultra-low emissions EU Stage IV compliant engine technology, the new wheel loader has an operating weight of 16,225kgs.
Its bucket has a capacity of 2.6-3.2 cubic metres, and a tipping load of 11.5 tonnes.
It can be released and replaced with a 14-foot wide fold-out rake,
The UK’s Dairy-Tech event showcased many new products that are not yet on the Irish market, but which are likely to be rolled out here in the near future.
Thermal imaging technology is being used in many agricultural sectors, and its advantages in the dairy sector were outlined at the show by Miracle Tech, one of three finalists in the Royal Dairy Innovation Awards.
Their thermal imaging scan of the dairy cow’s udder by fixed cameras in the parlour area can look for early signs of mastitis.
Another young business, Milkalyser Limited, exhibited their innovative automated fertility management system.
The technology directly measures the fertility hormone, progesterone, in cow’s milk, and provides analytical data to predict ovulation and optimal timing for insemination.
Also highlighted at the Dairy-Tech event was the potential to use 3D printing of parts required in parlours and on the farm, which could reduce time spent waiting for replacements.
And Drone AG and Bexcopter showcased their drones, highlighting benefits they could offer a dairy business in terms of disease management and mapping.
One of the main themes at the show was the possible labour shortage after Brexit, and how technology could go some way to bridge this gap for the UK dairy industry.
At the Lely head office in the Netherlands, the company launched the Lely Astronaut A5 robotic milker in April.
With the A5, cow comfort has been further improved with a new hybrid arm, which is silent, energy-efficient and faster, while delivering consistent milking.
Instantly following the cow’s every movement during milking, and remaining close to the udder, it quickly corrects itself in the case of any unexpected movement. This should help in the milking process, even with heifers.
With the new Teat Detection System, post-milking teat spraying has been improved by pre-scanning the udder before spraying, for better udder hygiene and limiting the risk of contamination.
An extensive worldwide test programme with more than 30 customers and more than two million milkings, was set up.
In all tests, detergent and water consumption were lowered, and energy use was reduced as much as 20%.
The LAMMA show in England moves indoors to the NEC Arena in Birmingham on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 8 and 9, 2019.
It comes 12 months after the second day of the 2018 show fell victim to strong winds that damaged marquees and forced the organisers to cancel.
Nevertheless, it was a good show for some Irish exhibitors, with the award for the best product or innovation (technological) going to the Keenan InTouch live nutrition service providing real-time diet support, spelling out loading sequences and mixing processes to generate “consistent, accurate and optimum” diet presentation.
The award was specifically for the new InTouch Controller and App, which allows InTouch customers to remotely create and edit rations and ingredients, change dry matters of ingredients, and update and monitor ration performance data.
The overall winner in the LAMMA Innovation Awards was the Pro-Til Xzact striptill precision seeder made by British manufacturer Mzuri Ltd.
Other winners were Halse South West, Wessex Internationalk, and Keith Mount Liming Ltd.