JOHN DEERE ELECTRIC TRACTORS

THE LETTER “E” in John Deere's new line of tractors stands for “electricity,” and the new machines created a buzz at Agritechnica. The new engine in the E models will produce electricity to run tractor auxiliary drives like the air conditioning compressor, compressor for air brakes, and engine-cooling fans. The electrical system also will power hand and shop tools. And forget the PTO shaft and hydraulics. In the future, implements will run on small electric motors, and a farmer will just plug an implement into a 230- or 400-volt three-phase power socket on the tractor.

Deere developed the E models because tractors have gotten very large. It takes a lot of power to operate all the belts and pulleys to run auxiliary items like an air conditioning compressor and to power a massive vehicle and implement through the field. Because the engine was changed to produce electricity for the auxiliaries, it has an additional 10 hp to improve performance. This helps the Intelligent Power Management curve start at 1,250 rpm instead of 1,700 rpm. The end result is about 5% less fuel consumption.

Deere put the new electrical system in its 7430 and 7530 models, which were displayed at the show. But the tractors probably won't be on the market in Europe until the end of 2009. The company has not yet set a date for introducing the tractors into the U.S.

NEW HOLLAND GRAIN CAM

A SENSOR installed on the grain elevator of a CR 9080 New Holland combine will help an operator adjust the cleaning shoe and threshing system to achieve top grain quality. The Grain Cam detects both non-grain constituents (NGC) and broken grain on the go — a first for the industry. Part of the grain flows over the sensor and is stopped during a measurement. A camera photographs the grain, detects broken corn and the NGC of the grain, and calculates a percentage value. The image is displayed on the IntelliView II monitor in the combine cab.

The Grain Cam was a feature on New Holland's CR 9080 combine on display at Agritechnica. It will be on the European market in 2009. For more information, visit www.NewHolland.com, click on the United Kingdom site and look under news releases for information about Agritechnica.

The New Holland booth also displayed a white model T7050 tractor that is used to tow a platform into St. Peter's Square for the Pope to stand on when he addresses the public.

CANOLA-OIL-DRIVEN DEUTZ ENGINE

SOON GROWERS in Europe will be able to raise, process and pump their own tractor fuel. Deutz designed an engine that runs on canola oil, also called rapeseed oil. This new engine is mounted in the Same Deutz-Fahr Agrotron M series tractor and in the AGCO Fendt 820 Vario Greentec tractor.

The “natural power” tractors with the Deutz engines are equipped with two fuel tanks. The main fuel tank holds canola oil and makes up about 80 to 90% of the tractor's fuel needs, according to Alexander Leopold, Same Deutz-Fahr marketing manager in Germany. A smaller additional tank holds ordinary diesel fuel.

The engine must start on diesel fuel until the oil is warmed up to a temperature where its viscosity is similar to that of diesel fuel. After the oil is warmed, the engine automatically switches to it. If the oil cools for any reason, the engine automatically switches back to diesel fuel. When shutting off the engine, the operator must switch back to diesel fuel for 30 sec. to clean the oil out of the engine.

Leopold says the design of Deutz's diesel engine allowed it to be easily changed to natural oil. The key is that Deutz cools injection pumps with engine oil whereas competitors use diesel fuel. The new engine needs extra filters and valves, but is basically the same diesel engine.

Deutz participated in a German project to test canola oil in tractors. Fuel is very high priced in Europe, and Leopold says the German government was searching for a way to reduce fuel costs for farmers even in 2001 when the tests began. The Deutz engines did well in the tests with canola oil, so the company moved ahead with its own research.

The engine runs on canola oil because canola is widely grown in Germany, Austria and France. Growers can purchase rapeseed mills to extract the oil from rapeseed or canola right on the farm. Deutz engineers now are testing engines with sunflower oil and soy oil.

Because the Agrotron M tractor won't be sold until later this year, pricing isn't set. However, Leopold expects that the extra cost for the natural power engine will be $10,250 to $11,750. Deutz-Fahr will offer a 24-month manufacturer's warranty on the tractor.

A year ago, the company introduced an engine that ran on 100% biofuel. “We are quite proud to have a biodiesel engine and a rapeseed oil engine,” Leopold says.

KINDERFINDER (AND ANIMAL COUNTER)

SATCOMSYSTEM FROM Germany developed a method to detect children who are too close to moving vehicles. Quaintly called the Kinderfinder, the system includes an RFID transmitter that is attached to a child and an alarm box in a vehicle that goes off when the child and transmitter are nearby. The transmitter may be built into a bracelet or child's clothing or on a chain.

Satcomsystem also introduced a new animal ID system with RFID technology to count animals. Active RFID ear tags or collars are attached to the animals and can be read by an RFID antenna on a controller box. The Animal Counter software allows the tag numbers or names to be read from the controller box on a laptop or PDA.

For more information, visit satconsystem.com. any pasture or pen. The system will read tags and collars from up to 200 yards.

CASE IH TRACKS

A CONCEPT Magnum tractor equipped with a massive set of tracks was on display in the Case IH exhibit. The special tracks, built by Westtrack of The Netherlands, are designed for heavy-duty frame tractors of 200 to 400 hp. Case IH personnel said the new tracks boast a larger footprint of 13.75 ft. According to Westtrack, the positive track system is quieter and handles higher speeds better than negative track systems. The company says the tracks are maintenance free and are easily replaced by wheels. For more information, visit www.westtrack.nl.

During Agritechnica, Case IH celebrated a 20-year birthday for the Magnum tractor, a 50-year birthday for the Steiger tractor and a 30-year birthday for the axial-flow combine.

KRONE COMPRIMA BALER

KRONE SHOWED off its new baler innovation featured in its Comprima F 155 round baler. The German company designed a bale chamber that combines a fixed chamber with a semi-variable bale chamber. As a result, the bales can be different diameters and of higher density than in regular fixed-only chambers. The Comprima F 155 baler produces bales from 49 to 59 in.

The unique baler first forms a bale in the fixed chamber. Then a new NovoGrip compaction system lifts the bale off the guide rollers to release a path for bales of large diameters. During this step, the bale is compacted further with more material, achieving a higher bale density in a large bale. The NovoGrip compaction system is a combination of fabric belts and slats with the slats arranged at right angles to the belts to form the elevator.

Krone also showcased a new SafeCut cutterbar protection system in its Big M II mower conditioner. The SafeCut system prevents major damage when a disc hits a foreign object, is sheared off and hits neighboring discs. SafeCut turns the rotating disc upwards on a lifting thread when a spring pin shears off. This keeps the disc from damaging other discs. For more information, visit www.krone.de.