TRADITIONALLY a year in review of the farm mechanisation industry focuses on the biggest, tallest and widest gear introduced to the market.
And while some did slip through, the majority of new products were more clever ideas and clever innovations to enhance productivity.
Here are my top picks:
Released by Burando Hill the ProTrakker is a hydraulically-controlled, GPS-ready guidance hitch, mounted on seeding bars, which eliminates the problem of bar drift.
Using RTK guidance, the ProTrakker maintains a bar's line of direction within an accuracy of plus or minus one to two centimetres (0.4-0.8in) enabling, for example, sowing canola in semi-wet conditions into the previous year's furrows without disturbing the stubble.
Or you can sow wheat on the inter-row in high stubble residue paddocks, again without disturbing the stubble cover.
Pro-D tillage tool system
Ausplow Farming Systems developed a patented bolt-less DBS blade calling it the Pro-D tillage tool system.
In addition to the bolt-less DBS knife blade and adaptor, the Pro-D also features a new fertiliser boot and fertiliser shield.
All are depth adjustable simply by using a specially-designed hand tool to remove a retaining pin which holds the assembly together. The hand tool is used to lock the assembly in place once adjustments are made.
A new patented closing tool is depth adjustable using a hand tool.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) became part of Mingenew farmer Darrin Lee's broadacre cropping program this year. He became one of the first Australian farmers to employ UAVs in a commercial broadacre cropping operation. Linked with a WA software innovation called Crop Manager, Mr Lee is proving the value of UAVs on the farm in all areas relating to agronomy, data recording and farm management. The combination of data collecting by the UAV interfaces with a predictive analysis platform in Crop Manager.
Trimble introduced Connect Farm and John Deere released My John Deere Ops Centre.
Connect Farm Trimble is an information sharing system which integrates all the various precision farming tools across the entire farm. The Connect Farm dashboard is a free web interface which provides growers with a single location for viewing key information effecting their farming operations. The dashboard manages in-cloud data, eliminating the need for USB storage, and provides growers with access to information from anywhere with an internet connection, including the Trimble TMX-2050 display.
With My John Deere Ops Centre, data can be uploaded securely using back-up tools or right from the field, using JDLink, and the platform is open, allowing seamless sharing. The centre provides tools to improve machine uptime, logistics management and agronomic analysis which can be securely shared. Innovative tools such as Field Analyzer and Difference Maps help customers gain insight into their operations for improved decision-making. John Deere is collaborating with many manufacturers and service providers to integrate with the My John Deere Ops Centre.
CLAAS also weighed in with its Cemos Automatic system in its Lexion headers.
Cemos means the machine will automatically adjust its settings according to the conditions, including features such as grain separation and cleaning.
This feature is designed to have the machine always operating at maximum capacity and efficiency while still keeping grain quality at its best.
Components controlled by the automatic system include rotor and fan speed along with the sieves, which assists with the cleaning process.
The first of what is certain to be a flow of hybrid front wheel-assist tractors with tracks replacing rear wheels.
Case IH picked up a Tractor of the Year award at last month's EIMA International trade fair in Italy with its Case IH Magnum 380 CVT. The combination of rear tracks and high-tech low pressure front tyres won over a jury which claimed the combination of tracks and tyres provided the tractor with greater traction to transfer power to the ground, with minimal soil disturbance compared to standard single-track machines.
Arguably a very low-tech product to make the list but if you suffer the frustration of dealing with rocks on your property, this is a winner.
Former Yuna farmer Tim Pannell, the inventor of a seeding attachment called the Yuna Boot, designed a new rock crusher and roller and started a business, appropriately called Rocks Gone.
Mr Pannell has designed the machine to dig up common laterite rock and crush it in one pass, creating topsoil which can be sown to crop.
Another WA farmer reinforced the abundant innovative talent in this State with the release of iPaddock App, iPaddockSpray and iPaddockYield.
iPaddockSpray manages the entire farm spraying program, from planning through to tank filling and record keeping, syncing seamlessly across multiple iPads using Apple's free iCloud service.
iPaddockYield gives farmers an accurate forecast of their crop yield during the season based on their rainfall to help them optimise their inputs, cropping programme, grain marketing and insurance with confidence.
Fendt Vario 1000
Fendt slipped into the picks with the release of the Fendt Vario 1000 Series tractors with the flagship model boasting a power rating of 373kW (500hp), making it the biggest front wheel-assist tractor in the world.
The 1000 Series models come with a top speed of 60km/h.
To help the tractor adapt to various jobs and conditions it is fitted with the firm's VarioGrip integrated tyre inflation system, which allows the operator to make on-the-go tyre pressure adjustments from the cab.
The models are fitted with the world's largest agricultural tyres, courtesy of Trelleborg, at 2.35m (7.75ft) in diameter.
Another WA gong, this time to Gnowangerup manufacturer Duraquip which unveiled a tanker/tipper combination concept.
Duraquip see the tanker/tipper combination going to contractors and large farmers who might be looking for a way to justify an extra rig.
Grain tippers are often short-term use vehicles only, battling to be used and hence, justified.
Duraquip rightly figure that by having a tanker/tipper combination, the same chassis can cart liquid fertiliser and water.
Exiting the industry
Mention also must be made of the sale of Horwood Bagshaw.
The company's owner and managing director Peter Sweeney said in October he had no successor for the 175-year-old company, at a time when he wanted to retire.
Mr Sweeney said he was proud of his achievements in resurrecting a company which in 1987 was placed in receivership with accumulated losses exceeding $17 million.
To date, the company remains for sale.