The trip to the FTMTA Farm Machinery Show got many talking about new technologies and advancements in grass swathing.
It may not seem a very exciting area, with few advances other than machines getting wider, heavier and more powerful. The principal concept of sweeping the fodder over the soil remains, having served well for 50 years.
But innovative ideas now offer alternatives, in the drive for better quality forage.
Disadvantages of the “sweeping” system include soil contamination, and poor results when battling to save crops in bad weather.
This was topical at the FTMTA Show because Reiter Innovative Technology of Austria showed it has a new way of swathing, seen on the stand of its Irish agents, T McFarland, Co Tyrone, and Suirway Farm Machinery.
Reiter’s new machines, the Reiter Respiro R3 Compact and Profi, have a revolutionary “elastic” pick-up.
This groundbreaking technology should be suitable for the permanent grassland of Ireland, with its challenges of soil adaptation and high humidity.
The small, six-rowed and camless pick-up lifts all crops gently and without contamination. A spine made of spring steel allows the “elastic” deformation of the pick-up.
Four freely rotating skids guide the elastic collector exactly above ground.
The ground contact by the pick-up tines is thus reduced to an absolute minimum.
The simple attachment of the tines is impressive; with a single M8 screw, six double tines are attached. The tine coils are supported, making tine losses practically impossible, according to the manufacturer’s claims.
The drive of the pick-up is by means of a central lifetime-lubricated gearbox.
The double bearings left and right are maintenance-free. There is not a single grease nipple on the pick-up.
The simple design of the pick-up, the generously dimensioned bearings and the well-distributed support distances, suggest a high degree of robustness.
Elastic units can yield, thus damping impacts. According to the manufacturer, this should significantly increase the service life of the unit.
The crop is lifted very gently from the ground. This will help to reduce loss of leaf and crumbling.
Reiter Innovative Technology claims the pick-up system can be used at up to 25km/h if field conditions permit, without compromising on the quality of raking.
The design aim was to allow the Respiro operator to swath as fast as mowing.
It remains to be seen whether this new generation of pick-up technology will also find its way into harvesting technology such as balers, loading wagons or choppers.
The outside wheels are then superfluous, so the raking width can be increased to 2.5m for balers and loading wagons.
The small diameter also has the charm that the material flow is fed to the rotor quickly without any significant deflection.
A rotor is positioned above the very small pick-up.
The rotor is hydraulically suspended and takes over the crop immediately after the area where the pick-up tines disappear between the bends.
This leads to a perfect crop flow. A fluffy and regular swath is formed.
The swath is neither packed nor cramped, as is the case with rotary rakes. Instead, the rotor loosens the harvested crop and the subsequent drying of the swath is better.
Reiter claim reduced risk of chopper blockages, higher throughput, less diesel consumption, and improved cutting because the crop is not twisted.
The crop flows into the ideally shaped swath.
Another advantage claimed is less stones in the swath due to the small pick-up, and the gentle tine characteristics.
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