Transmissions talk forms ‘The Hub’ of happenings in Kilkenny

Based on 2016 figures, Case IH and New Holland combined (under the CNH banner) accounted for just under a third of all new tractor sales in Ireland, so when these entities have something to say it’s usually worth taking note.

Last week (Thursday, October 4) saw the New Holland side of this huge corporate family fill ‘The Hub’ in Kilkenny with various tractors, machines and implements from its current line-up. One reason for doing so was to launch three new products onto the Irish market.

The most significant of these developments is the Dynamic Command transmission, which has been available in some European markets for over a year now. Its double-clutch mechanism is borrowed from Auto Command tractors and has been integrated into a three-range gearbox.

Also Read: New dual-clutch, 8-speed powershift from New Holland

Another feature of the new transmission is the provision of forward and reverse clutch-packs that provide a ‘true’ shuttle function.

The system also provides for what is termed a ‘clutch to brake’ function, which alleviates the need to use the clutch during baling or loader work.

Simply depressing the brake pedal will bring the tractor to a halt at low speeds (automatically disengaging the transmission); releasing it will allow the tractor to move off again.

Dynamic Command is presently only available on the T6 range (circa 125-180hp). There is a strong possibility that it will be offered on the T7 range in future, but the company is unwilling to make any firm commitments as to when this might happen.

‘S’ designation

Aside, New Holland would appear to have realised that not every farmer wants all the latest ‘bells and whistles’ on a new tractor, despite the greater efficiency that manufacturers claim they bring.

To address this issue, the company has introduced a variation of selected mid-range models which it calls the ‘S’ series.

The ‘S’ designation indicates that the tractor is fitted with all the “essential functions” but is not equipped to the same level as standard-spec models. Although the engine and power-train remain fundamentally the same, power boost is not available and the screen does little more than indicate the gear selected.

The choice of items such as tyres and cab options are also greatly limited.

Although it might appear as if New Holland is responding to the threat of being undercut by cheaper brands, the modest 6-8% reduction in retail price would suggest that it is not joining in any rampant race down the price league.

Harvester haven

Now that combine harvesters have been put away, it’s time to think about next year’s harvesting operation. New Holland has announced a new line-up for next season, which is fully compliant with Stage V emission standards.

However, Nigel Honeyman, the company’s harvester specialist for the UK and Ireland, preferred to focus on advances in combine design generally. Agronomy is now a major factor in combine development, he notes, with crop characteristics changing as fungicide regimes evolve.

“Straw tends to be a lot greener now,” he explained. “The grain may be at 14% but the rest of the plant is nowhere near ready.” This, he reckons, has set new challenges for crop separation. He believes that rotary combines are best placed to cope with the new conditions.

Rotary combines have something of a reputation for being too aggressive on straw, but Nigel dismisses this concern.

“We took the new CR7.80 to 34 farms in the UK and only four chopped the straw; the rest baled it quite happily with no problems.”

The frustration over farmers’ unwillingness to swap to rotary machines, due to perceived straw quality issues, is shared with sister company Case IH (which maintains that such fears are unfounded).

With two competing companies under the one corporate umbrella, comparisons between New Holland and Case IH are inevitable.

‘Sister’ brands

When asked if there are fundamental differences between the design ethos of the American-built Case IH range and that of European-designed New Holland combines, he tactfully refers back to the heritage of both – noting that earlier Case IH rotary machines did indeed need beefing up for the European market, but have come a long way since.

New Holland, on the other hand, has been subject to a major European influence and still has a major base – in this product family – in Belgium.

Looking forward, Nigel believes that technology – especially real-time crop analysis – will see the farmer take back control of his grain marketing by enabling the blending of crops to suit purchasers’ requirements.

Presently, the infrared-based system it shares with Case IH can only determine overall protein levels, but this will be expanded in future.