Green giant notches up medals for its machinery smarts

John Deere has been awarded one gold and two silver medals for innovation by the DLG committee in advance of Agritechnica 2017 in Hanover, Germany (November 12 to 18).

Kemper’s new StalkBuster – the gold medal winner – is designed to break up the crop stubble directly below a self-propelled forage harvester’s header. This, says the John Deere owned company, destroys the overwintering habitat of the corn borer pest and reduces the risk of fusarium in the soil, so an additional mulching operation is no longer necessary.

With a claimed power requirement of no more than 4hp per row, the StalkBuster is integrated into the base frame of Kemper’s rotary crop header. A special “wear-resistant” flail crushes each row of stubble before the wheels of the forager and transport vehicles can flatten it. As a result, says the manufacturer, the stalks are not only cut down but also smashed into small pieces.

A special swinging gearbox allows “optimum ground adjustment” for each individual row, while a pneumatic pressure system provides additional “close tracking of ground contours”.

By reducing the need for subsequent chemical applications and easing the way for following tillage operations, the total potential economic advantage of using the StalkBuster system is claimed to be “as high as €84/ha” – compared to mulching.

Meanwhile, John Deere’s new, silver medal winning EZ Ballast Wheel System is designed to provide a “versatile ballasting solution for tractors”, without impeding the front and rear lift capacities. Details are limited at this early stage, but it essentially entails purpose-designed, ‘easier-to-fit’ wheel weights for John Deere tractors.

John Deere

The system is designed to enable operators to change the front and rear wheel weights relatively quickly – just five minutes per wheel – without the need for additional tools or a second person to help.

Each front wheel can be equipped with one 250kg weight, while the rear wheels can be fitted with two 250kg weights, giving a total ballast of up to 1.5t.

The second silver medal winner – John Deere’s new tractor-integrated AutoTrac Implement Guidance system – steers both a tractor and row-crop cultivator by combining a camera with GPS steering for “high-speed, high-output” weed control.

John DeereThe time window for optimal mechanical weed control is limited. That’s what prompted John Deere and its subsidiary Monosem to develop this active, integrated implement control system for inter-row hoeing. The system enables working speeds of up to 16kph – apparently without damaging the crop.

AutoTrac Implement Guidance uses a camera mounted on the hoe, which calculates the predicted track along the plant rows. In addition, a John Deere StarFire satellite receiver is attached to the hoe.

Steering control is thus achieved using an RTK signal and is particularly useful where plant rows are uneven or interrupted. The tractor is controlled in the same way, with both the camera and StarFire GPS receiver mounted on the cab.

All information is shown and settings entered on the tractor’s CommandCenter display. Sideways movements of the hoe are governed by an electro-hydraulic control unit on the tractor, which works with a hydraulic side stabiliser on the lower links, while the three-point hitch’s top-link position is continuously monitored.

The system steers not only in straight rows but also on slopes and around corners.