AGCO's 'ideal' header before robots

AGCO's 'ideal' header before robots

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Independent consultant Ben Slater (left) chats with header driver Johannes Raamat, York, before the AGCO IDEAL header is taken out for a demonstration run on a south Ongerup farm.

Independent consultant Ben Slater (left) chats with header driver Johannes Raamat, York, before the AGCO IDEAL header is taken out for a demonstration run on a south Ongerup farm.

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AGCO Australia can expect a solid response to its new IDEAL combine harvester if initial demonstrations are any guide.

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AGCO Australia can expect a solid response to its new IDEAL combine harvester if initial demonstrations are any guide.

It has so many features it can rightly be described as a pre-cursor to an autonomous machine.

And according to independent consultant Ben Slater, one of the first demonstrations earlier this month resulted in a sale.

Overseeing the demonstration program for AGCO dealership AgWest Machinery, Mr Slater will report back to AGCO with his and farmer views on the performance of the header.

Two weeks ago it was munching its way through barley crops yielding between 2.5 tonnes a hectare and 6t/ha, equipped with a 12.2 metre draper to accommodate 12.2m tramlines in the demonstration paddock south of Ongerup.

"We're demoing the 8T and 9T models and we've got four in action this harvest, including two in York, which are sold," Mr Slater said.

"Those two, incidentally, are fitted with Seed Terminators.

The AGCO draper front is designed with a cleated rubber belt that travels horizontally to 'present' crop heads-first to the table auger. This action ensures the crop is travelling in the right direction into the feeder house to increase threshing efficiency.

The AGCO draper front is designed with a cleated rubber belt that travels horizontally to 'present' crop heads-first to the table auger. This action ensures the crop is travelling in the right direction into the feeder house to increase threshing efficiency.

"We've had a huge reaction to these headers, especially in the southern areas this year where crops are yielding well and farmers are interested in their capacity.

"Depending on conditions, we're operating between six and 13 kilometres an hour and taking off between 40 and 75 tonnes an hour, without pushing the header."

Mr Slater said the 12.2m draper was the most popular width "but it depends on how farmers are operating".

"We can go to 18.2m," he said.

"A lot of guys will go that wide, especially in a year when crops are a bit thin and they want that extra width to keep crop volume up to the header without going too fast."

According to Mr Slater, the IDEAL handled a variety of conditions harvesting barley and last week he was in a paddock taking off 4.5t/ha with the temperature at 14 degrees Celsius and finishing at 8pm.

"Even then we were still getting 40 to 45 tonnes an hour and we could have gone later into the night," he said.

The IDEAL is available in a three model range (7T, 8T and 9T) with power ratings from AGCO Power and MAN engines range from 366 kilowatts (490 horsepower) to 483kW (647hp), linked to a step-less transmission.

There is a choice of tracks or tyres.

According to Mr Slater, who has 20 years' experience operating headers, the IDEAL is an impressive machine.

"It's a twin rotor machine but it has no conventional drum, so all the threshing is done by the rotors," he said.

"The rotors are 4.8m in length and 600mm in diameter, making them the longest when measured against competitive brands and it allows more time to separate the grain from the straw, with a lot of space.

"It's a very efficient system and you definitely achieve a better sample with little grain loss.

"The first 1.5m on each rotor does most of the threshing with a gentle action right through over the long sieve."

According to AGCO, the two rotors, designed in a dual helix configuration, provide 4.3m2 of threshing area, the largest in the industry.

AGCO also claims that compared to other systems, its dual helix rotors 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 a innovative new curved design to evenly distribute material from the rotors to the cleaning shoe, enhancing the efficiency of the cleaning system.

Another first in the IDEAL is its industry-leading grain tank, with a capacity of 17,000 litres, which can be unloaded in 90 seconds.

An option for the IDEAL is IDEAL Harvest, which is a pre-cursor to making the header autonomous.

According to AGCO, the IDEAL is equipped with 52 sensors, including mass acoustic detection sensors (MADS) that measure the differences in acoustic qualities to determine what is grain 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.

Visualisation of crop flow is achieved within the header via a special grain-quality camera.

Another innovation is the IDEAL DriveCenter - the header's central power unit - in which one gearbox attached directly to the engine, 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 DriveCenter also ensure smooth engagement, thereby reducing wear and tear on each component.

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 free of dirt and debris.

But to prevent any build-up of dust and chaff, the system's fan reverses automatically to clear the radiator (another reason the machine doesn't need a human).

The IDEAL features the latest patented innovations from AGCO's Fuse Connected Services division and telematics is fully connected.

Recently AGCO released a new model IDEAL designated the 10T with a power rating of 589kW (790hp).

It is expected to be seen in Australia in late 2020.

More information on demonstration locations: Call your nearest AgWest Machinery dealer.

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