The Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft or German Agricultural Society is usually known simply as the DLG and it is this organisation, with 33,000 members, that is responsible for holding Agritechnica every two years.

Alongside the show itself, the DLG presents various awards, the most coveted of which is a gold medal for innovation, followed by a silver medal for those that don’t quite make the top mark.

However, it should be noted that it is not a competition as such, the DLG can award as many medals, or none at all, as it sees fit.

New Holland scoops gold

This year there was just one gold medal awarded and that went to New Holland and its Concept CR Combine harvester which addressed the issue of the limited space within combines to fit the threshing mechanism.

It is New Holland that developed the twin axial rotor type harvester and although engine power and table width are capable of dealing with higher throughputs, it is the threshing drums that constrain performance, as they have reached the maximum physical size that is possible while keeping the harvester within road legal limits.

DLG gold medal winner
Thanks to a redesign of the internals, the wider chassis of the new combine can accommodate larger rotors

To increase the volume available for fitting larger rotors, and to keep the overall weight down, New Holland has repositioned the engine and rearranged the drives to allow the threshing mechanism to occupy the full width of the body.

The engine now sits longitudinally and is in line with the rotors while chains and shafts, rather than belts, are used to transmit power to the threshing mechanism.

By keeping the driveshaft above the level of the rotors and away from the wheels, New Holland claims to have increased chassis size considerably with little weight penalty.

Silver medals

2023 saw 17 silver medals being awarded to companies that had also contributed to the incremental advancement of agricultural mechanisation.

Not all of the other items recognised with a silver medal are applicable to Irish farming operations, and some may not even make it to production, yet there are a handful that could well become commonplace here.

All the recipients have great merit but it might be wondered why the Steyr Hybrid tractor, from the same CNH stable as the New Holland combine, did not find itself being awarded a gold medal as well; the company is streets ahead of its competitors in exploring this technology.

Steyr Hybrid CVT

Back at the last Agritechnica event in 2019, Steyr presented a forward looking concept tractor in which a diesel engine drove a generator which then powered four separate drive wheel motors, and another unit for the PTO.

The company has now refined this concept and has a working prototype which it defines as a hybrid CVT, focusing on the fact that the torque characteristics of electrical motors allow them to be used without complex gearboxes to provide a full speed range.

Steyr DLG winner
The Steyr Hybrid has moved on from concept tractor to running hybrid with many changes made along the way

In the working version of the tractor there are just two motors which are sited in a completely redesigned front end.

These drive both the front and rear wheels by mechanical linkage and a simple two-speed gearbox, suggesting that Steyr found independent drive to each wheel either impractical or expensive.

Slotted into the electrical part of the drive train are what the company describes as super capacitors rather than straight batteries.

The inclusion of these allows a degree of regenerative braking and boosting of power above that of the engine output.

Fendt variable conditioning

One of the effects of digital technology is that machinery companies are tending to involve themselves more in crop management itself, instead of just providing the tools of production.

Fendt has taken a further step into this already blurred boundary with the development of variable conditioning on mowers.

The company explains that stock will perform best if there are no great variations in the feed quality.

It then goes on to argue that achieving a homogenous silage quality starts with the cutting of the crop and the amount of conditioning it receives across the field.

Fendt variable conditioning system
Fendt has developed a method of altering the conditioning effect across a field based on satellite or yield data

Fendt has produced a system that alters the aggression of a mowers conditioned as it moves across the field.

This is regulated either by satellite data or yield monitoring and the aim is to reduce the effect in thinner parts and increase it where the crop is thicker. Saving fuel would be another benefit.

In theory it sounds an excellent idea and will probably have some use in lighter crops, or even the exceptional conditions of this year’s silage season, but the thick wet crops found in Ireland demand that as much water is lost out of a crop as possible, irrespective of the consistency of drying.

Telescopic front-end loader

Tractor front-end loaders have a particular drawback and that is forward reach can be insufficient at times; stacking round bales is the obvious situation where a little extra would often be handy, and Stoll has developed a loader which can provide just that.

There are two elements within the new design which contribute to providing a further 1m forward reach, and an increased height of 1.5m.

DLG silver winner , Stoll
The new front-end loader from Stoll can extend the bucket or grab 1m forward

The first is the extendable arm which can move by 0.7m and what is described as an ‘extensible joint’ which appears to refer to the mounting point on the tractor being able to shift its position.

There is a distinct preference for tractor mounted front-end loaders over more specialist machines in Ireland, and Stoll has targeted medium-sized tractors with this new loader.

Its adoption would appear a safe bet.

Power link for parallel ploughs

As great an invention as Harry Ferguson’s three-point linkage was, it suffered one great flaw and that is as the plough rose from work to reduce the draught requirement, it was no longer parallel to the ground.

DLG silver medal winner
Sensors (arrowed) detect the height of the implement at each of its ends and adjust the length of the top link to ensure it stays parallel to the ground

Claas has at last got round to fixing this problem with its Three Point Powerlift Regulation system by integrating the hydraulic upper link into its three-point control system.

Height measurement sensors, which are mounted at the front and rear of the implement to determine its position, transfer their data to the tractor’s control electronics which then extends or shortens the top link to ensure the implement is working at an equal depth along its length.