THE jury is in on Massey Ferguson's new generation IDEAL rotary combine harvesters.
After extensive testing in Australian conditions, AGCO marketing director (Australia and New Zealand) Fergal Meehan said Australian farmers that drove the header during last year's harvest were impressed with its technology and performance.
"The IDEAL is a brand new design built from the ground up with the customer at the centre of the process," Mr Meehan said.
"We produced 45 prototypes and conducted continuous lab and field testing for more than six years.
"That's why we tested it with almost 5000 hectares harvested throughout Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.
"It was incredibility important to us that we tested the IDEAL across different crops, so we harvested wheat, barley and canola mainly but also tested the machine in lentil and chickpea crops.
"What we discovered was that technology was a key area and that farmers wanted a machine that had fully integrated guidance, yield mapping and automation.
"Australian farmers are innovative which is especially necessary in such challenging conditions and providing farmers with the most up to date technology and software enables a more productive farming experience."
Among a host of new features, IDEAL Massey Ferguson models, which are available for the 2019 harvest, offer the biggest grain-tank capacity (17,100 litres) in the market, the fastest unloading rate (unload in 90 seconds) and the largest threshing area - all focused on delivering significant gains in efficiency and output.
While it's a twin rotor machine it has no conventional drum, with all the threshing done by the rotors which are 4.8 metres in length and 600 millimetres in diameter, making them the longest when measured against competitive brands.
AGCO claims that compared to other systems, its rotors in the IDEAL require as little as 50 per cent less horsepower to operate in a variety of crop conditions.
The rotors also allow material to generate huge centrifugal force at a much lower speed and remain in the rotor longer.
As a result, grains are separated gently and reliably, while straw is protected at the same time.
Two specially-moulded return pans use the full length of the threshing and separation chamber to distribute crop evenly to the cleaning shoe, even on hillsides, eliminating the need for a self-levelling shoe.
Instead, the two return pans use an innovative new curved design to evenly distribute material from the rotors to the cleaning shoe, enhancing the efficiency of the cleaning system.
Visualisation of crop flow is achieved within the header via a special grain-quality camera.
Another innovation is the IDEAL DriveCentre - the header's central power unit - in which one gearbox attaches directly to the engine and drives all main components of the combine: the processor, cleaning system and hydraulic pumps, as well as the header.
AGCO says such a straightforward design allows for the most efficient transmission of power.
Also, because belts can siphon off power via slippage and breakage, the IDEAL uses fewer of them than other headers.
Wet clutches on the DriveCentre also ensure smooth engagement, thereby reducing wear and tear on each component.
The IDEAL is equipped with 52 sensors, including mass acoustic detection sensors (MADS) that measure the differences in acoustic qualities to determine what grain is and what is not.
The IDEAL harvest system is then directed to change the concave clearance and the height of chaffer and sieve, as well as ground, rotor and fan speeds - all to maintain the operator's harvest strategy.
The harvest strategy itself is set by an easy-to-use touch-screen display, allowing the operator to select preferences for minimising grain damage, loss and material other than grain (MOG) in the bin.
In addition, the IDEAL harvest system can even compensate for sudden shifts in various factors, such as crop density and field slope, anticipating and correcting problems before they occur.
The air system also is impressive.
An AirSense system optimises cooling based on factors such as engine load and temperature.
It also takes in air from the top of the machine, where it's freest of dirt and debris.
To prevent any build-up of dust and chaff, the system's fan reverses automatically to clear the radiator.
The IDEAL offers three models - a 336 kilowatt (451 horsepower) MF IDEAL 7; 401kW (538hp) MF IDEAL 8 and 483kW (647hp) MF IDEAL 9.
"The capacity of the tanks of these new models is up to 17,100 litres which is about 18 per cent more capacity than the largest available previously," Mr Meehan said.
Aiding the increased capacity is the Dual Helix rotors which are fixed to the IDEAL 8 and IDEAL 9.
"The farmers who tested the new IDEAL commented on this feature as well as the smoother cabin ride and ease of operation," Mr Meehan said.
The new range complements the existing Massey Ferguson 9500 Series.
"The Massey Ferguson 9500 Series is still being manufactured in North America and the demand for this machine in Australia is still going strong," he said.