LAMMA 2018 – new arable ideas dominate UK’s premier ag tech show

Hosting 1,000 exhibitors, January’s LAMMA, the UK’s largest agricultural technology exhibition, was the launchpad for a number of new products designed to bring about improvements in efficiency. Some were making their UK debut after a worldwide unveiling at Agritechnica last autumn, but others were taking a global bow

New Holland’s second-generation prototype
New Holland’s second-generation prototype methane-powered tractor could be powered by farm-produced fuel

Alternative tractor power
Fiat-owned New Holland has been developing alternative power sources to diesel for some time, testing both methane and hydrogen. Thanks to the ability to potentially produce it on-farm from biodigestion of plant material, and the requirement for relatively minor engine changes, the former is rated as showing most promise, with the potential to create energy-independent businesses. New Holland’s second-generation methane-powered tractor, developed between the brand’s factories in the UK and Italy, made its UK debut at LAMMA, following 2017 displays in the US and Germany. Its radical styling includes not only cleverly-styled fuel tanks, but a futuristic cab containing new technologies likely to be gradually incorporated into forthcoming machines from the firm.

Other tractor news included the launch of the industry’s first rubber-tracked tractors with continuously-variable transmission (CVT), in the form of Case IH’s Quadtrac 470/500/540 models and the Fendt 900 MT tractors. Already well-established in wheeled tractors, CVT brings about greater fuel efficiency, allowing the tractor’s electronics to maintain machine operation at a defined engine or forward speed.

Tillage topics
Agronomy company ProCam’s stand focused on helping farmers looking to use ploughing as part of a blackgrass control strategy, with emphasis on ensuring the plough is set up correctly for full weed seed burial. Advice centred around how basic settings, such as ensuring skimmers are operating at the correct depth and angle to completely bury trash, can easily be forgotten in the pressures posed by autumn workloads, negating much of the benefit rotational ploughing can bring. Ensuring tractor tyres fit furrow width is another common oversight, suggested the firm. ProCam’s guide to plough set-up for effective grass weed control is at www.procam.co.uk/plough-set-up-key-in-effective-blackgrass-management .

Vaxio cultivato
Sumo’s second-generation prototype Vaxio cultivator is designed for high-speed one-pass seedbed cultivation and consolidation where full subsoiling is not required

Equipment highlights included a second-generation prototype Vaxio cultivator from Sumo, designed for high-speed one-pass seedbed cultivation and consolidation where full subsoiling is not required. Claydon’s inter-row hoe, designed for early-season use in strip-tilled combinable crops, and He-Va’s Evolution oilseed rape seeder, made their LAMMA debuts. Combining disc openers, low-disturbance, medium-depth subsoiling legs, double-disc coulters and closing wheels, the Evolution can be fitted with a slug pelleter and granular or liquid fertilizer applicators.

The future of fertilizer application
Building on its ArgusTwin spread pattern-monitoring system, Amazone now offers WindControl on its ZA-TS mounted and ZG-TS trailed spreaders. Designed to increase the number of possible spreading days in windy areas, the system constantly monitors wind via speed and direction sensors, automatically altering delivery system and disc speed settings as required. For side winds, disc speed to the windward side is increased and the delivery system advanced, the opposite taking place on the leeward side. Amazone says the result is more potential spreading days.

WindControl system
The WindControl system for Amazone’s ZA-TS mounted and ZG-TS trailed spreaders monitors wind speed and direction, automatically altering delivery system and disc speed settings as required

Spraying system developments
British manufacturer Landquip showed a drift-reduction kit for its demount sprayer, with the option also available on others in its range. In work, a fan fills with air a plastic sleeve sited just above the nozzles, creating an air stream into which the nozzles direct the spray, this then being directed straight to the crop. Like Amazone’s fertilizer system, it’s designed to improve application accuracy in windy conditions.

The new iXtrack T3 trailed sprayers from Vicon feature a suspended parallelogram rear frame claimed to minimize spray-height deviation above the crop canopy and improve application accuracy. Nozzle control includes pneumatic or electric operation, suiting those using GPS for automatic section control and auto start/stop at headlands. Geospray takes this a stage further, bringing individual nozzle control.

Suspended parallelogram
Suspended parallelogram rear frame on Vicon’s iXtrack T3 sprayers is said to minimize spray-height deviation above the crop canopy and improve application accuracy