Strip-Till Farmer sent 11 staffers to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, to cover the latest equipment innovation trends in the strip-till market. What follows are the most noteworthy product launches, industry notes and trending news editors found impacting the North American ag market. For more on what our editors saw, heard and experienced on the show grounds, visit Strip-Till Farmer’s Facebook and Twitter pages (#FPS18). You can also find additional coverage and exclusive video interviews on www.StripTillFarmer.com.
New Dry Fertilizer Sensing Tool for Strip-Till
Brazilian manufacturer J.Assy made its second appearance at the Farm Progress Show and showcased the Visum wireless flow blockage system for strip-till fertilizer application. Working with Montag Mfg., for distribution, the system is wireless and consists of a hose sensor, vibration flow detection and in-cab monitor.
If there is a blockage in the boot of the row unit or in the meter, the operator will get an audible indication of the plug in the row, and which row, says Dale Simpson, general sales manager for J.Assy.
“Many farmers running dry fertilizer application in a strip-till system are doing so without any real indication of knowledge if they are getting flow to each row unit,” Simpson says. “I liken it to there not being a farmer around who wouldn’t have a monitor on his seed meter for the corn planter, so why wouldn’t you want to have the same kind of tracking with dry fertilizer application.
Cost of the system is $260 per row, and available on a variety of strip-till row unit models, Simpson says.
J.Assy also introduced its new Selenium vacuum seed meter, which has kits for soybeans and sorghum. The company is partnering with planter row unit manufacturer Harvest International for production.
“One of the key differentiators with the product is with crop changeover,” says Simpson. “When changing from one crop to another, it’s as simple as popping out one kit and replacing with another one, without adjusting singulators, knock-out wheels or small pins.”
AGCO’s Ideal Combine Draws Crowds
Perhaps the biggest storyline at the show was AGCO’s new Fendt Ideal combine. After AGCO first revealed the machine earlier this summer at the Canada Farm Progress Show in Regina, Sask., the company had three of them on display in Boone. This was a good thing, said company officials, given the constant crowd that the combines were attracting to the AGCO tent. AGCO says the company has spent 7 years developing the product up to this point.
The development process included customer and dealer feedback at every step. The design of the Ideal essentially started from scratch, the first such “clean sheet” axial combine in 30 years.
In an interview with editors at the Farm Progress Show, Bob Crain, AGCO senior vice president and general manager, Americas, says the new combine will be rolled out slowly. Only 11 dealers will initially sell the Ideal, with more dealers added in the fourth quarter, with possibly around 100 dealers carrying it by 2019, he says. The Ideal is expected to be fully rolled out in 2020.
“We are truly taking a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach,” he says.
The combine will be available in Class 7, 8 and 9 to match the harvest capacity needed by any operation.
Deere Enters Vertical Tillage Market
John Deere marked its entrance into the crowded vertical tillage market at the Farm Progress Show with the release of its new 2660VT Variable-Intensity Tillage Tool. The unit is based on a shallow concavity Commander blade. According to Deere, the 2660VT allows operators to customize the gang angle from 0 degrees for sizing residue and vertical soil movement, to 12 degrees for aggressive horizontal soil movement and to bury crop residue.
The gang angle can be adjusted with a manual slider or with TruSet Tillage Technology for more precise, one-degree adjustments and prescription tillage capabilities from the cab. Automated, on-the-go TruSet tillage depth and rolling basket pressure adjustments, as well as documentation and prescription-based tillage on the Generation 4 Display, are standard on both five-section and three-section models.
Some would argue the Deere unit isn’t true vertical tillage. Curt Davis, director of marketing and product management for Kuhn Krause doesn’t consider anything over a 10-degree angle to be vertical tillage. Mike Cleveland, vice president of sales for Great Plains agrees. “If a farmer wants to own a high-speed disc, that’s fine; there’s a lot of them out there. But if you want vertical tillage, if it’s got a concave blade running at an angle it’s not vertical. That’s our position. We tell our dealers that. And we tell farmers that,” says Cleveland.
“True vertical tillage, it’s not that crowded. There’s a crowded market in what we call the high-speed disc business, but true vertical tillage is not that crowded. There’s us (Great Plains), Summers and Salford to my knowledge that run a true vertical tillage tool with blades on it,” says Cleveland.
According to other manufacturers, the Deere unit is very similar to other products on the market and in some instances has near identical parts. “We’ve had vertical tillage in the market for a number of years and at Kuhn Krause we evaluated what the customers were looking for and came up with a machine,” Davis says. “You really have to be in the market to know what the customers are after and they’ve obviously taken what they think is going to work and that’s probably where we differ between companies. I’m not sure what they’re expecting to gain in the vertical tillage market with a product that is very similar to others in the industry,” Davis says.
Great Plains, Summers and Kuhn-Krause all say they have concern over Deere continuing its push for dealer purity. “If they’re truly going to gain purity with their dealers, then they’ve got to provide the products that John Deere dealers are sourcing from other manufacturers. And this fills one of their holes,” Cleveland says.
“We’ve got quite a few dealers who represent Kuhn Krause who are John Deere dealers and I’m sure that pressure will be coming from their major manufacturer to carry the John Deere machine,” Davis says. “But again, we have to go back to performance, industry longevity, the history that we have and the differential items with the machine that we know we can perform well and what the customer is after. Those customers will end up telling the story in the end of what they’re looking for and what performs better.”
First Blockage Monitor for Floaters Debuts
Fargo, N.D., based IntelligentAg Solutions debuted its Recon SpreadSense blockage monitor for floaters, the first system of its kind in the ag industry. The technology uses adhesive, acoustic sensors that attach to the back of sensor deflectors.
The sensors “listen” to material flow and send sound pulses through auditory tubes, similar to a stethoscope, says Matt Grove, product manager. Data is then collected by the electronic control unit (ECU) which displays information on an iPad in the tractor cab.
“This is the first blockage sensor for dry fertilizer products for pneumatic boom machines,” Grove adds. “The readout has a mass flow number to show the operator how product is flowing through the machine and also easy ways to identify blockages through green and red graphs on the bottom of the interface.”
Case IH Launches new 250 Series Combines, Harvest Command
Case IH introduced its Harvest Command, automated technology on the new 250 series combine for 2019. Ryan Blasiak, harvesting marketing manager, summed up the new developments. The standard-issue AFS Connect allows dealers to better diagnose and be aware of service intervals to help customers in downtime/update.
“For farmers, we can use 16 different sensors to make 7 different, key combine function changes," Blasiak explains. "These include ground speed, rotor speed, pre-sieve, top-sieve, fan speed, lower-sieve and then ultimately now, cage vane angle position as well."
The new system also features an exclusive, patented, sieve pressure sensor to measure pressure differential between the upper and lower sieve to get a better readout on sieve operation for operators. "Farmers can know if they have a sieve off-loss condition or blowout losses and then the sensors constantly optimize the machine before losses occur," Blasiak says. "This helps maximize grain savings and benefit to the customer."
The Harvest Command starts at about $13,000 list price. Additional 250 series combine updates include enhancements to the feeder house (fore-aft adjustments) top shaft assembly area, support for heavier heads and narrow-row chopping heads and optional in-cab adjustments to change the position of the cage vane angle to slow or accelerate grain material through the combine and the technology offering.
xarvio Introduces Weed, Disease Detection to North America
Germany-based xarvio Digital Farming Solutions introduced its new scouting app, with image recognition technology to identify — with near 90% certainty — 11 known diseases and 11 weed species in the U.S. Farmers have the ability to take an early-stage, in-field photo and cross-reference the image in the scouting apps database to identify the disease or weed.
Based on several hundred thousand images and machine learning algorithms, the app also assigns a “confidence index” percentage with the classification.
"Within the next 2-3 years, we'll be rolling out smart sprayer technology that uses this same image recognition technology," says David Gray, U.S. commercial manager. "As the sprayer is rolling through the field, cameras will recognize different weed varieties and select from multiple herbicides to best suit conditions and reduce over spraying and weed resistance."
360Sprint Seeks to Set Pace of Fertilizer Refilling
360 Yield Center debuted a prototype of its new 360Sprint machine, designed for on-the-go liquid fertilizer refills. A 300-gallon tank, mounted on a John Deere Gator, has a connector in the front that can attach to a moving planter in the field and refill liquid nitrogen or starter fertilizer on the planter. With the ability to cover as much as 30% more acres in a day, the company field tested 4 machines this spring including on founder Gregg Sauder’s farm.
“Farmers are spending a lot of money on high-speed planters and to be sitting as much as 12 minutes to refill fertilizer, as much as 10 times per day, that’s more than 100 acres a day lost on pitstops,” Sauder says. “This system can load 300 gallons in less than 4 minutes and we see broader use with farmers looking to chase strip-till bars in fall to add liquid N.”
Autonomy Continues to Advance
Kicking off Tuesday with a press conference followed by live field demo, Ames, Iowa, technology developer Smart Ag unveiled its AutoCart autonomous technology. Designed to assist with labor shortages on farms, the aftermarket kit can be implemented into the cab of a combine during grain harvest to control a tractor in a separate part of the field.
The system comes with an additional remote farmers can use to stop the tractor immediately when needed. With price points estimated between $35,000-$40,000, AutoCart is currently being run on a limited scope with John Deere equipment and anticipated for a full commercial release in 2019, according to Mark Barglof, chief technology officer for Smart Ag.
“Right now, the system works for 8R series tractors, but as we continue into the future we plan to increase the types of equipment the system can run on it,” says Barglof. “We’ve got partnerships with Bottom Line Solutions in Illinois, and AgriVision, a local Deere dealer.”
OEMs Broaden Base of Factory-Direct Precision
Ag equipment manufacturers continued the trend of integrating more precision technology into equipment from the factory, expanding inclusions to include more data-centric tools. Case IH announced the inclusion of its AFS Connect portal for model year 2019 base models of its 250 combine series, Magnum and Steiger tractors. The 1-year subscription, priced at $500, allows for file transfer and review of collected agronomic and machine data, says Chris Dempsey, Case IH marketing manager.
John Deere also expanded its precision features in base large ag equipment for 2018, with inclusion of its AutoTrac Universal 300 steering system ($3,000 list price) and software updates to its Gen 4 displays. With the frequency that farmers trade equipment, Matt Olson, precision marketing manager for Deere, says inclusion of precision hardware and software is expected on sales of used equipment.
“Activations are just as attached to that equipment as the steering wheel and tires,” he says. “For dealers, it simplifies the sales process and provides more value to that used equipment.”
For more on editors’ observations at the Farm Progress Show, tune into the “Farm Progress Show” video series available on www.StripTillFarmer.com.