Categories: Articles, MechanisationPublished On: 11th October 2023

TECHNEWS: The latest in agricultural technology from around the world

By 8 min read

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The autonomous grass harvester and cow feeder can even be told to apply fertiliser for the next cutting.

Cows (and farmers) will love Exos, the Lely grass robot

The Exos, a fully autonomous vehicle for harvesting and feeding fresh grass, will be commercially available to Dutch dairy farms from the middle of next year.

It took around ten years to develop and was extensively tested on 13 Dutch farms.

The company is targeting farms with at least 150 cows and a minimum of 40 ha, but the autonomous vehicle has also been evaluated on farms with up to 350 cows.

The reciprocating cutter bar is not only lightweight but also helps to keep the power requirement to a minimum.

Lely-Exos1: Imagine a machine cutting the grass and feeding the cows all on its own. The company, Lely, did just that … and then built it.

The grass harvester operates at speeds of 3 to 4 km/h, and the working width is 2 m. The 12 m³ bunker holds about a tonne of fresh grass. The vehicle can be programmed to deliver grass to the right, left, or both sides. A front safety bumper is part of the standard specs, as are front and rear safety cameras. Outdoor navigation is via GPS. Ultrasonic sensors take over when driving inside.

The Exos can also be used to apply liquid fertiliser. The ten nozzles are located directly behind the mowing unit, and the capacity of the fertiliser tank is 100 litres.

Electricity to power the vehicle is supplied by a 400 volt on-board battery. All four wheels have electric motors. (Source: Veehouderij Techniek)

New LEMKEN harrow controls weeds effectively

The Thulit harrow will initially be available in limited quantities in working widths of 6 and 9 metres from next year.

With the Thulit, LEMKEN presents its first weeder harrow to round off its range of mechanical weed control implements. In developing this machine, the agricultural machinery specialist launched a new concept with four beams and eight rows of harrow tines.

Complex spring combinations are replaced by an innovative hydraulic tine pressure adjustment, which ensures that the tines deliver more even pressure across the full working surface. The pressure can be continuously adjusted to up to five kilogrammes while driving. As a result, the Thulit does an outstanding job during the sensitive crop growth stages.

The tines are arranged with a line spacing of 31,25 millimetres to ensure blockage-free work. Stable, true-totrack and wear-free tine bearings ensure optimum weed removal. A straightforward quick-change system makes it easy to replace the harrow tines.

The Thulit can even handle raised vegetable beds.

The Thulit features precise and continuous ground contour following with consistent tine pressure, making it a highly versatile implement, even on very uneven ground and in ridge crops. Due to its generous clearance height and clever design that removes the need for the usual springs, it is almost impossible for plants to get stuck under the frame. The flexible hydraulic system further supports width section control within the frame sections to avoid multiple passes across parts of the field.

Minimising the frame weight was a core aim in designing this machine. To achieve this, the number of moving parts was significantly reduced in comparison to similar models, ensuring that the Thulit can also be used with tractors with low lifting capacity. The driver has a clear view of the harrow tines during work, and therefore a constant view of work results. For transport, the tines fold in automatically for an increased level of safety. (Source: LEMKEN)

Cultivate and fertilise or sow in one go with Pöttinger. When TERRADISC marries AMICO F …

Pöttinger has announced a number of new technological solutions for the new season, and the one solution shining as resource-saver was the AMICO F front hopper with its combinations.

For high output sowing during stubble cultivation or seedbed preparation, Pöttinger has now equipped not only its TERRIA stubble cultivators but also its trailed TERRADISC 8001 T / 10001 T disc harrows with a distribution system coupled to the AMICO F front hopper. Now, soil cultivation and sowing or fertilisation can be done at the same time.

In only one pass, fertiliser or cover crops are sown directly into the soil. By feeding fertiliser into the raised flow of soil, it is mixed in and covered straight away. The fertiliser does not lose any of its effectiveness and is immediately available for the plants. This process is suitable for seedbed preparation in spring or for replenishing nutrients with granular trace elements in autumn.

Cover crops are directly stimulated to germinate because they are immediately covered and consolidated by the packer. This can be done during shallow stubble cultivation. Driving speeds above 10 km/h in combination with the wide working widths of 8 and 10 metres ensure an enormous output.

Large, 580 mm diameter discs slice into the ground and get the soil moving. The aggressive setting ensures reliable soil entry, even in the driest conditions. The TWIN ARM suspension system prevents the discs from deviating sideways on hard ground. This ensures that the whole surface is moved, which ultimately ensures uniform application of the seed material and fertiliser.

By setting the distribution rail perpendicular to the ground, the material is immediately mixed into the soil below so that it is deposited across the full cultivation depth. The fertiliser and seed material is therefore distributed throughout the entire cross section or soil movement. During stubble cultivation, for example, compensatory fertilisation of potassium or nitrogen can be used to accelerate the decomposition of straw.

The capacity of 1 700 or 2 400 litres and a division of 60:40 ensures a wide range of applications for the front hopper. To ensure convenient operation, the AMICO front hopper is equipped with ISOBUS as standard. (Source: Pöttinger)

Collaboration can enable automation

Claas, AgXeed and Amazone formed a new joint venture to make automation practical.

Claas, AgXeed and Amazone have stepped up their collaboration in the field of highly automated and autonomous agricultural machinery and work processes by establishing the first multi-manufacturer autonomy group.

3A, ADVANCED AUTOMATION & AUTONOMY, aims to accelerate the development, standardisation and market introduction of semi- and fully autonomous tractor-implement combinations through their combined expertise.

The three partners have been working together in the field of autonomy for some time already – Claas and Amazone are minority shareholders in the Dutch company AgXeed.

The market-ready technology developed by the 3A group comprises design and implementation software, which was previously available only for autonomous field robots, but can now be used in conjunction with the AgXeed box to control tractors and implements as well.

“Agricultural robots currently act mainly in closed systems with limited applications and without the option of being able to use them in parallel or in combination with other vehicles and implements,” the development team explains. “And this is where 3A’s innovative approach comes in: within the group, we have developed the AgXeed box technology, which for the first time connects tractors and implements to the planning and autonomous implementation process using the standardised ISOBUS interface. Via this interface, implements can interact with field robots, AgBots and tractors to enable automated or autonomous process optimisation.”

The first products developed by 3A are the Amazone AutoTill for mulch cultivators and Claas Autonomy connect, which incorporates the entire tillage planning and implementation process. These solutions, which have been tested under field conditions, are the starting point for further multi-manufacturer applications involving every conceivable machine combination for outdoor work processes.

Tasks are planned in the familiar Claas farm management information system (FMIS) or the AgXeed portal, where it has long been possible to schedule tracks and application maps for tasks.

Talks are currently underway with other machine manufacturers who are interested in joining the multi-manufacturer group and thus play an active role in expanding the range of applications.

Claas Autonomy connect, Amazone AutoTill and AgXeed AgBot offer significant advantages:

  • Both the tractor and the implement perform all operations precisely as the farmer or contractor has planned.
  • The planning function not only calculates the best possible route; it also ensures that the tractor implement combination is optimally configured. This prevents poor quality work and inefficiency resulting from incorrect settings.
  • The first plan forms the basis for reducing the workload in subsequent years, as only seasonal adjustments are then required – for example, depending on the main crop, follow-on crop and rotation.
  • Errors by the machine combination are detected by sensors and automatically corrected to maintain consistently high process quality. For example, the system automatically detects when the cultivator is at risk of clogging, and adjusts the working depth and speed accordingly.
  • Responsibility for producing optimum results no longer lies solely with the operator, which reduces the pressure on him, especially during long working days.
  • Preplanned and process-optimised machine-implement combinations are more energy efficient and thus more cost-effective to operate.
  • Farmers and highly qualified operators can perform other more important operational tasks while the planned task is being performed, since constant supervision is no longer needed.
  • On non-autonomous tractors, the technology also enables less skilled or experienced operators to produce optimal results.
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