Many farmers love the lure of new machinery. This month, TMAF Farm Manager David Jones went to see what was on show at Agritechnica, one of the biggest new farm machinery shows in the world. So, what was on his list and did he find it in Hanover?
“After work on Monday evening, we set off to Agritechnica, Hanover, Germany. With two friends, who run Agrikel (a local agricultural engineering business that specialise in crop sprayers), I boarded the overnight ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland. It’s like staying in a hotel only you wake up somewhere else.
Better spraying and spreading with manufacturer collaboration
Agrikel are agents for Vicon sprayers and spreaders. We took the opportunity on the way to Hanover to stop off to visit the Vicon factory in Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands. Our host, Dimo Dimov, explained that since Kubota had bought the Knvernland Group (KV) including the Vicon brand they had made a lot of efficiencies in the factory to improve quality and production.
On the site is the Mechatronics Centre which is developing and maintaining machine control terminals. They have developed one terminal that can run any KV/Vicon machine – from balers to sprayers. This brings flexibility and simplicity to the machine operator who could hitch on any machine to a tractor and it will just work. They also explained that KV was a founding member of Agricultural industries Electronics Foundation which is an independent organisation to help competitor manufacturers work together so that the machines work with different tractors via the ISOBUS system. This collaboration seems to work well and is great news for the industry.
Tuesday afternoon we continued on to Hanover to find our Airbnb ready for a big day on Wednesday.
Scale of Agritechnica and machinery on show
The Agritechnica site in Hanover covers about 80ha consisting of 27 halls each about 1-3 ha in size. The halls are themed by task: grass equipment, sprayers, manure equipment and so on. Of course, the well-known brands are there – John Deere, New Holland, Krone, JCB – but we also saw exhibitors from all over Europe and beyond.
It seems that manufacturers bring their biggest tractor, trailer, combine or baler to show it off. I saw some huge machines. For example, I saw a 6500lt 40m wide trailer sprayer. This would weigh approximately 22 tonnes with a tractor. There were slurry tankers that would weigh 20 tonnes, carry 30 tonnes and would need a 15 tonne tractor to pull them.
However, there were plenty of modest-sized machines that would suit UK just right including those made by Austrian company Lindner. Their vehicles looked well-made. The models that they had at the show looked as though they could climb the side of a house.
We went in every hall but by no means saw everything. The tip is to plan what you want to see and prioritise your time.
This year my priority was to look at methods of mechanical weeding (fancy cultivators) also to see new innovative things that you don’t normally see in UK. It is important to remember that Agritechnica is an event that attracts exhibitors and visitor from all over Europe and beyond. Many of the exhibitors I had never heard of and whilst they make nice machines, we are unlikely to ever buy them in the UK because their dealer networks do not extend this far. This makes service and parts a problem. As such, the machines are made for different markets and are either too big or too small for East Anglia but could also fail to meet many UK legislation standards.
At Agritechnica, there were about 25 companies showing camera-guided hoes. All promised to do a good job. Many seemed very strong but heavy, so not good for a light footprint in-between sugar beet rows. The noticeable thing is that the hoe parts were similar: a choice or combination of A hoes, L hoes, straight tines and spiky wheels. I intend to follow up on a few of these machines to find who can supply the UK market, and for what price
Weeding out problems in crop
Another thing that caught my eye was the ZURN Top Cut Collect. This is a lightweight finger bar mower and a belt that collects weed heads within a standing crop such as ryegrass in wheat. The belts transfer the heads to a hopper ready to be discarded. It fits on the back of a tractor fitted with narrow wheels to prevent crop damage and is about 12m wide. More investigation required. On the weed control front, I didn’t see any weed wipers.
After a long day we ate at a Greek restaurant with an enthusiastic waiter that insisted we try his schnapps.
Pest control innovation – identify and destroy
For Agritechnica Day Two we gathered our thoughts to plan the day, who and what we wanted to see. I headed to the precision farming area.
Xarvio, part of BASF, were demonstrating their app that can identify weeds and pests. Simply take a picture and the app tells you what it is. It can even count and identify insects in a yellow pan trap. Xarvio also explained that with this technology they have the equipment that can identify a weed in a crop while moving at 15km/h then spray a puff of herbicide to kill just that weed. This eliminates the need to spray the whole field. This system is not yet available for sale, but coming very soon.
When it came to 3pm Thursday we had to leave to drive back to the ferry. Again, I think it was a successful Agritechnica trip. Maybe there is nothing ticked off the shopping list but the whole experience makes me think – and wonder what could be possible back here at Morley.”