First look: Krone ‘lifts’ the lid on new-generation forage harvester

Krone, the family-owned machinery giant, will unveil its latest additions to its BiG X range at the upcoming Agritechnica machinery extravagnaza.

Three new models – the BiG X 680, BiG X 780 and BiG X 880 – will complete the company’s range of self-propelled forage harvesters; 12 machines will be available in total, ranging in power from 490hp right up to 1,100hp.

AgriLand recently got up close and personal with the new BiG X 780 – the middle child of the new additions – at a Krone-organised press camp in Italy.

Increased visibility from new foragers

Setting them apart from existing models, the new forage harvesters have been subject to a total redesign. At first glance, the new features of the latest BiG X models are clear to see.

Krone BiG X

Fitted with what Krone says is a world’s first, the new BiG X models feature a brand new cab lift system; this feat of engineering is set to be showcased on the BiG X 880 at Agritechnica 2017.

At the touch of a button (from the driver’s seat), the operator can raise the entire cab by 70cm (nearly 28in in old money) on a hydraulic ‘scissor’ lift.

This, the company claims, gives the operator the perfect view out over the crop and the trailer travelling alongside.

Activating this feature also moves the operator further away from the chopping assembly, which has a “positive impact” on noise levels in the cab.

The machine’s redesigned cab and new “full coverage” wipers are claimed to provide the operator with an improved view of the machine and the header – even in poor visibility conditions such as rain and dust.

Multi-tank concept

Another added improvement to the latest BiG X models is the addition of Krone’s new multi-tank concept; this system includes five separate storage tanks.

Designed and developed for the various systems and additives around the world, this allows the operator to select a tank concept to suit from seven different variants.

This, says Krone, maximises fill capacities for long working days and reduces the need to stop and refill, thus allowing the operator to spend longer in the field – focusing on the job at hand.

An all-round forage harvester

Available with Krone’s OptMaize Universal Package, the new BiG X can apparently deliver chop lengths of 3-30mm.

This package combines a MaxFlow chopping drum and a VariLOC gearbox. By simply changing the drum speed from 1,250 to 800rpm, using a standard open-end spanner, the operator can increase the chop length range achievable by 53%.

This allows the operator to “instantly” change over from short to long cuts and vice versa in a matter of minutes.

For crop pre-compression, Krone continues to use six feed-rollers.

The VariStream crop flow system is also standard. With a spring-loaded floor below the chopping drum and a spring-loaded plate behind the blower (accelerator), VariStream is claimed to deliver “smooth, blockage-free operation – even in an uneven crop-flow”.

Forager utilisation at the upper limit is apparently maximised, with “less fuel needed per tonne” of crop harvested, Krone says.

The VariQuick system is designed for quick changeovers between maize and grass harvesting. This, says Krone, enables the BiG X to be used in maize, whole-crop silage or grass.

Under the bonnet

The three new models in the BiG X range boast Liebherr engines under the bonnet. The BiG X 880 is fitted with a 16L, V8 powerhouse, which is capable of pumping out 898hp.

All three models are Stage 4 / Final Tier 4 compliant; but the BiG X 780 is also available without emission treatment technology and, as a result, it’s exempt from European statutory emission standards (because its output exceeds 560kW).

Another strong selling point, says Krone, is that engine oil and oil/fuel filters only need to be changed after 1,000 engine hours.

Manoeuvrability

According to Krone, another impressive feature of the new forage harvester is its manoeuvrability, which is achieved through independent wheel suspension.

This makes for “excellent handing, even in undulating fields”. In addition, the new BiG X can be fitted with 900/60 R42 tyres to boost ground clearance, minimise soil pressure and improve operator comfort.

To ensure that crop-flow is not affected by different-sized tyres on the front, Krone has developed a patented front axle concept. This allows for the wheel motors to be positioned at different heights.