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Innovation Award AGRITECHNICA - Winners of 2023

With 218 qualifying submissions, the leading innovation award scheme for the international agricultural machinery industry has announced one gold and 17 silver award winners.

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One innovation was awarded a gold medal and 17 innovations received a silver medal.

The winner of the Innovation Award in gold is:

New Holland – a brand of CNH (Hall 3, Stand A48)

Overall concept of CR twin axial rotor combine harvester

The further development of the technically possible threshing performance of combine harvesters is increasingly being limited by their size, weight and dimensions.

This particularly applies to the widening of the threshing channel, the most effective design measure that would, however, directly impact the width of the machine, which is in turn already encountering the statutory transport width limits. The fundamental, regressive nature of separating functions is one argument against simply extending the threshing and separating sections. In addition, increased drive outputs and accordingly dimensioned drive technologies as well as threshing and separating tools are causing the legally defined axle loads to be exceeded.

The overall concept of the new CR twin axial rotor combine harvester from New Holland has therefore been designed for a maximum power density while complying with all restrictions. The core element of the new CR combine harvester is the drive technology with an engine that is mounted longitudinally according to the rotors’ angle of inclination. The centrally located split-power gearbox is used to drive rotors and harvesting headers with an intake chain in a straight line or via a propeller shaft. The left rotor serves as a counter shaft for the feed drum. The propeller shaft is located on the right-hand side of the chassis above the level of the rotor housing. Consequently, there are no drives on either side of the chassis between the chassis and the running gear, as a result of which the width of the chassis has increased considerably. The resulting space has been used to widen the threshing channel and therefore to increase the installed technical output of the combine harvester.

To eliminate any blockages, a software-controlled automatic system not only performs the otherwise usual back and forth movements to loosen the blockage, but also slews the belt tensioner to the respective tensioning side of the feed drum belt, which leads to particularly precise transfer of the rotary movement. The patented cleaning system has also been made 13 percent wider and grain elevator loading has been optimised, while pressure sensor-supported control technology measures the ram pressure and therefore harvested crop distribution separately on the front and rear upper sieve. Bare areas resulting from uneven distribution of the mix of grain and non-grain constituents are compensated through lateral shaking, as a result of which the system not only ensures consistent distribution of the material on the upper sieves on the flat and also on lateral slopes, but is also able for the first time to solve the basic lateral distribution problem typical of axial rotor combine harvesters. The straw chopping and distribution system is equipped with camera-based control technology, which increases the combine harvester’s energy efficiency while the machine’s weight has remained virtually unchanged at the same time thanks to weight-optimised designs.

With the new CR twin axial rotor combine harvester, New Holland is advancing into a new performance dimension in twin axial rotor combine harvesters using the longitudinal flow principle.

The winners of the Innovation Award in silver are:

Who isn’t familiar with the problem when working with front loaders? Often, the last few centimetres of range are lacking just at the crucial point in time – especially on the 4-cylinder medium class tractors that are popular in front loader work.

The new teleloader from Stoll is equipped with a telescopic swing arm and an ‘extensible joint’. With the design size for 4-cylinder medium class tractors, the swing arm can be extended 0.7 meter. In combination with the extensible joint, this enables the horizontal range to be increased by 1 meter and the lifting height by as much as 1.5 meter. The front loader should therefore prove particularly interesting for handling round and square bales on farms that do not have sufficient work for a telehandler. However, it is also suitable for all other work. The electrohydraulic actuation of the front loader can be used to implement safety functions. These include, for example, automatic shut-off of the master cylinders in the event of excessively heavy loads when the swing arm is extended. The joint additionally means that the front loader is movable in itself, which can help to improve visibility while driving, amongst other aspects.

By adopting the telescoping function, Stoll has therefore significantly evolved front loader technology with major benefits for practical use.

Among the diverse measures that are being implemented to reduce CO2 emissions, the development of alternatives to the diesel engine are relatively high up on the agenda. This also applies to off-road vehicles such as tractors, forage harvesters and combine harvesters.

With the Steyr Hybrid CVT, CNH is presenting a modular hybrid concept for medium and large standard tractors. The prototype that has been presented is based on a serial production model of the 6-cylinder entry-level class with an output of 132 kW (180 hp) and a wheelbase of 2.79 m. While the stepless hydrostatic-mechanical gearbox has been taken over 1:1 from the original, the diesel engine outputs 191 kW (260 hp) and is fitted in a completely new front end with sprung independent wheel suspension and two integrated electric motors. The generator is driven by the diesel engine via a transmission stage and forwards the generated electrical power of up to 75 kW (102 hp) to the electric motor via the power electronics. This converts the electrical energy back into mechanical energy, which is conducted to the crown gear of the front axle differential via a two-stage gearbox. The front axle can still be driven mechanically using a classic multi-plate clutch. The electrical branch is additionally fitted with supercapacitors, i.e. electrostatic energy storage devices, that are able to store and release a great deal of power in a short space of time, a braking resistor and an AEF high voltage socket at front and rear.

These components and the serial-parallel hybrid structure enable numerous functions that are new in tractors. These include electric steering, the variable, actively controlled forward travel of the front axle and e-boost, i.e. an electric boost function for quick acceleration during transport. E-Torque Filling enables load peaks to be compensated, while the E-Eco mode permits diesel-electric driving at low engine speeds and braking energy recovery is possible via a retarder with E-Braking. These are joined by E-Torque Vectoring and E-Implement, two familiar functions for variable torque distribution between the axles or the output of electrical power to implements.

With its Hybrid CVT tractor’s diesel-electric drive, Steyr has succeeded in integrating a range of additional functions into tractor technology.

(Hall 13, Stand C04)

In modern tractors, tractive power is usually regulated via the lower links. Raising or lowering the 3-point power lift often leads to the circumstance that soil tillage implements are no longer positioned parallel to the ground and that the front and rear working depths are therefore different.

To optimise this, Claas is now also integrating the hydraulic upper link into its multi-dimensional 3-point control system. Height measurement sensors that transfer the signals to the tractor’s control electronics are mounted at the front and rear of the implement to determine the position. Via an additional hydraulic system control unit, these can be converted into a regulation specification for the upper link length, leading to automatic adjustment of the implement’s longitudinal inclination. This allows the implement to be guided parallel to the ground and therefore enables the achievement of consistent work quality.

Claas has significantly further developed the 3-point power lift by integrating the upper link into its control system.

New Holland - a brand of CNH
(Hall 3, Stand A48)

Automation and autonomy functions significantly relieve strain on the driver during long working days. The partly fundamental redesign of off-road vehicles in the development of alternative drive technologies for reducing CO2 emissions often makes it easier to implement improvements in this area.

With the battery-electric T4 Electric Power tractor, New Holland is presenting interesting autonomy and safety functions. Amongst other features, the camera systems mounted on the cab roof and at the front in the bonnet enable a 360° all-round view of the tractor that can be transferred to the cab terminal, the detection of rear-mounted implements for simplified coupling and automatic PTO shut-off, should anyone move too close to the propeller shaft. There are also the Route Mode functions, in which the tractor follows a defined driving sequence, for instance in fruit plantations. Invisible Bucket provides an improved overview when working with front loaders by ‘erasing’ the implements on the cab terminal. The Follow-Me mode may well prove to be particularly interesting for work such as manual vegetable harvesting or erecting fences, during which drivers constantly have to climb in and out to move the vehicle a few metres further forwards. If the driver activates Follow-Me mode on the tractor terminal and then ‘identifies’ himself or herself in the tractor’s front detection range, the tractor subsequently follows this person. A gesture control system is additionally available, thanks to which the tractor can also accept driving instructions using hand signals.

New Holland has therefore added significantly improved functions to the familiar tasks of a tractor that lead to increased work efficiency with a high level of safety at the same time.

New Holland - a brand of CNH
(Hall 3, Stand A48)

Farming offers numerous options for the supply of energy, but this potential has barely been exploited in field operations. Methane from processed biogas, which can be transported in the form of CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (liquefied natural gas), for instance, would be suitable for powering agricultural machinery. However, the volumetric energy density of CNG is only around one fifth of that of diesel, meaning that the operating times of corresponding vehicles are generally limited. The ratio offered by LNG is significantly better, which is why it has already been used in long-distance haulage by truck for numerous years. Cryogenic LNG would also be suitable for large tractors and self-propelled harvesting machines, but this has hardly been of interest so far because, amongst other reasons, the usual cylindrical, vacuum-insulated tanks are difficult to incorporate into the scant insulation space and because large volumes of boil-off gas can occur due to long stationary times.

With the T7.270 LNG, New Holland is the first manufacturer to present a gas tractor with LNG tanks. Thanks to a special double-wall technology, the vacuum-insulated tanks can be adapted to the spatial conditions typical in tractors, which enables a tank capacity of 200 kg in the T7.270 LNG. New Holland counteracts the problem of the boil-off gas with a cryogenic cooler, which constantly keeps the methane below minus 162°C and therefore in its liquid state. The energy required for the electrically powered cooler is very low and comes from a battery that can be charged via an external power source or the integrated IC generator. Boil-off gas is used to drive the generator, enabling the cooling system to operate autonomously.

By implementing LNG technology in the T7.270 Methane Power, New Holland is now also making LNG gas engine concepts a drive option that can meet the tough requirements of the agricultural sector. This is combined with the opportunity of using one’s own biogas (bio-LNG) as vehicle fuel in CO2-neutral cycles.

SAPHIR Maschinenbau GmbH
(Hall 27, Stand E05)

Joint development with

To be able to conserve the groundwater as far as possible and put it to optimum use for the germination of volunteer cereals, weed seeds or a subsequent intercrop in the first operation after harvesting, stubble tillage should be as shallow as possible.

The GrindStar from Saphir solves this problem with passively rotating rotors that till the soil ultra-flat (up to 2 cm). The individual rotors have a diameter of 75 cm, of which half of the circumference is constantly engaged in the ground with the angled tools. Each rotor is guided in a parallelogram, enabling significantly more favourable adjustment to the surface of the soil compared to other concepts for ultra-flat tillage. The passively rotating tools release fine earth and cover volunteer seeds, they remove earth from stubble and condition harvesting residues so that they quickly start to decompose. Other comparable concepts (e.g. harrows) operate either less intensively or deeper (large spring tine harrows or compact disc harrows) in order to release the stubble. The GrindStar’s very favourable tractive power requirements of around 20 kW/m working width during processing are similar to those of a harrow, but the machine achieves the intensity of harvesting residue conditioning familiar from a mulcher.

The GrindStar therefore brings together the advantages of mulchers and harrows in its significant further development of a familiar process. As a result, the process is vastly improved on the whole, with major benefits for work quality and cost effectiveness in practice.

(Hall 25, Stand B23)

Flank coverage, stability, but also gas exchange and evaporation – growing potatoes is a real job for specialists, and the requirements on a ridge former are as diverse as the soils in which potatoes are cultivated. Clogging due to remains of previous crops and intercrops are an additional problem in existing systems.

The new rotating ridge former developed by All-In-One GmbH enables uniformly shaped potato ridges to be produced in an energy-saving manner. Thanks to the additionally integrated cutting elements, the remains of previous crops and intercrops are cut up and the risk of clogging familiar from existing systems is banished. The rolling ridge forming element requires little tractive power, significantly reduces the risk of damage when reversing and therefore vastly improves operability. The shape of the rolling elements also leads to good ridge formation with a structure that is more than adequate for air and water exchange. Reduction of the erosion surface and sufficient percolation are achieved by means of paddles attached to the disks, with the former ensuring passive drive and perforating the space between the ridges at the same time. The structured elements in the ridge former can be exchanged individually and are manufactured from durable material, which enables long service lives.

ALL-IN-ONE has significantly evolved and improved this technology with the rotating ridge former.

The effect that the speed increases significantly at the outer radius while decreasing in equal measure on the inner side of the curve on cornering is particularly noticeable in the case of large working widths, which inevitably leads to changes in the output quantity.

The issue of curve compensation, i.e. the adjustment of the output quantity to the changes in speed is already familiar in crop protection sprayers. However, a sprayer’s boom is located closely behind the machine’s physical pivoting point. Therefore, only the output quantity within the boom has to be adjusted to achieve curve compensation.

Conversely, the throw of a centrifugal spreader is up to twice the working width, and the application point is located many metres behind the spreading device depending on the type of fertiliser and the working width. In addition, the spreading disc is shaped like a kidney. Besides adjusting the quantity within the curve, the shift in the spreading pattern therefore particularly has to be taken into consideration on a spreader. All of this necessitates precise knowledge of how the spreading device works with different fertilisers and requires accordingly complex implementation in a control algorithm.

For the first time, the spreading pattern of a centrifugal spreader is adjusted on cornering with the CurveControl system.

Zunhammer GmbH
(Hall 23, Stand B33)

With the increasing working width of liquid manure application booms, which are becoming ever larger, precision fertilisation is made difficult due to the fact that the output quantity is not variable and is the same over the entire width of the boom.

In a further development of the familiar use of two pumps, the output quantity can be regulated independently for each half of the spreader in Zunhammer’s ECO-Duo Vario system, something that is entirely new. This enables the accuracy of precision fertilisation to be doubled, which is particularly important with large working widths. Shutting off partial widths does not lead to a change in the output quantity in the other partial widths, as the pump rotational speed is adjusted in this system.

Zunhammer’s ECO-Duo Vario system therefore represents a significant further development in the area of liquid manure spreading technology.

Sharp chopper blades guarantee precise cutting and a low percentage of excessive lengths. In order to manually readjust the grindstone, forage harvesters have to undergo maintenance and servicing after around 400 to 450 grinding cycles. This activity takes 30 – 45 minutes per readjustment and, at present, is technically possible roughly three to four times per stone. A not inconsiderable portion of the grindstone is left over as an unusable remainder.

Thanks to the innovative grinding device, the number of grinding cycles can be increased to 2,200 without a single maintenance or servicing activity. The newly designed grindstone holder also enables the entire stone to be used completely. With its new adjustment feature, the encapsulated design additionally offers improved protection against environmental influences, particularly dirt. The innovative grindstone fastening concept reduces the workload and time required for replacement by up to 70 percent.

This significant further development of the grinding device on the forage harvester increases ease of maintenance, which relieves the driver’s or the mechanic’s workload. The harvester’s efficiency is increased because harvesting does not have to be interrupted. The grindstone is used completely, which conserves resources and protects the environment. The easier handling also benefits work safety.

Fendt AGCO GmbH
(Hall 20, Stand B26)

Joint development with

The basic ration quality directly impacts the milk and meat yield as well as the cost structure of cattle farmers. The key term of homogeneous nutrient supply starts at the time of cutting and ends on presentation of the feed in the trough. In between, there are numerous parameters that have to be taken into consideration. On cutting, grassland and field forage crops reveal high, heterogeneous initial dry matter, which leads to different degrees of wilting at the time of harvesting. The desired objective of achieving a maximum dry matter difference of 10 percent in the silage is rarely attained, resulting in heterogeneous acid structures in the silage.

The silaging chain begins with mowing, whereby external influences such as the weather and the grass crop play equally as big a role as adapted mowing technology.

With its automatic conditioner adjustment, Fendt is striving to achieve a clear objective: a constant dry matter content across a field and a cut. To do this, the biomass growth is determined either by creating an application map using satellite data or by having a sensor record the yield data directly while driving over the field. The data collected in this way are sent via ISOBUS to the mower’s job computer, which calculates the appropriate settings and forwards them directly to the electric motor on the conditioner’s counter comb. The result is more homogeneous feed – both within a field and within a cut.

Ultimately, both animals and man benefit in equal measure from this significant further development of conditioner adjustment. Homogeneous qualities lead to expectations of better animal performances and the driver of the mower combination only needs to focus his attention on the mowing process. Conversely, the significant and crucial settings on the conditioner are controlled by the sensor system or the application map. This matter-based adjustment leads to reduced fuel consumption and crumbling losses. This artificial intelligence relieves the driver’s workload, reduces set-up times and enables consistent and cost-effective work.

CASE IH - a brand of CNH
(Hall 3, Stand A48)

Combine harvester throughput controllers only react to changes in the condition of the harvested crop once the material is already in the harvesting header, the intake duct or the threshing unit, or the sensors located on the cab scan the crop, but from an unfavourable angle. In the event of extreme changes in harvesting conditions such as threshing crops lying in different directions or gaps and areas of weed in the crop, this results in correspondingly high overloading or underloading of the combine harvester with excessive differences in vehicle speed or overloading and underloading of the threshing and separating elements. Often, the throughput controller is then deactivated. In addition, the sensor technology for controlling the height of the harvesting header only registers areas of uneven ground when the cutter has already come into contact with them, meaning that blockages can occur.

In the new Forward Looking Feedrate Radar system from CASE IH, radar sensors are mounted on folding supports that protrude over the reels. These sensors measure the condition, height and density of the crop, and the sensor values that are determined in this way are used as input variables for the throughput controller. The sensors additionally measure the ground profile and, in addition to the data from the ground sensors, optimise cutter bar height control with the aid of values calculated using new algorithms

This patented development leads to more consistent harvested crop infeed and ensures header control with less ground contact. In total, this results in increased combine harvester output, operating reliability and therefore efficiency.

The manufacturers of hauled bunker harvesters offer their models with different foreign object separating facilities to enable adaptation to the prevailing operating conditions. However, internal field-to-farm distances and therefore also frequently the variability of the soils are increasing as the cultivation areas of potato-producing farms continue to grow. In practice, this leads to the circumstance that an unsuitable separator is used on an increasing number of fields.

For the first time, the ChangeSep separator from Grimme now enables tool-free switching between two active separating facilities for tuber-like foreign objects in a harvester. This therefore allows the rubber finger web separating facilities, which are designed as circulating scraper or deflector rollers, to be quickly and easily adapted to changing soil and harvesting conditions as well as different harvesting methods (direct, split or enriched). This saves a vast amount of (conversion) time and establishes the prerequisites for optimising the work rate without forgoing gentle handling of the tubers.

With the ChangeSep interchangeable separator, Grimme has combined two existing systems in a single machine, therefore significantly evolving separator technology, particularly because the separators can be changed with little effort and without special technical equipment.

As small-scale potato-growing areas become increasingly mechanised in emerging and developing countries, the quality of work during harvesting is gaining in importance in addition to the work rate.

A windrower jointly developed by Shaktiman and Grimme is meeting these demands with a new machine design. Thanks to a short first sieve chain and the hydraulic folding mechanism for the second sieve chain, coulter depth control by means of ridge rollers can additionally be integrated into the machine without significantly increasing lifting power requirements, thereby ensuring that the existing small tractors can continue to be used. The depth-controlled intake section and the enlarged sieve area enable an adjusted flow of material that is gentle on the tubers through the windrower. At the same time, the placement of the completely exposed tubers onto the roller-compacted soil makes the work of the harvesting staff significantly easier and therefore lastingly reduces the extensive losses caused by concealed potatoes.

On the whole, this crucial further development of the familiar windrower system contributes to an increase in both work quality and the work rate and therefore to food security for the population in emerging and developing countries.

AgXeed B.V.
(Hall 9, Stand F30)

Joint development with

Agricultural robots usually operate in self-contained systems with limited application options and without the possibility of combination with other vehicles and implements. In addition, there are few solutions for monitoring process quality. The use of autonomous field robots, e.g. for soil tillage, is only effective if they are able to detect disturbances such as blockages or coulter loss on the tillage implement and ideally also to rectify them.

Planning and implementation software that can be used to control robots in collaboration with tractors and implements has been developed in the form of 3A - Advanced Automation and Autonomy. Disturbances on the vehicle combination are also detected and independently corrected if possible. Sensors are used to register whether blockages are present, a coulter has been lost, the packer roller is running at the right rotational speed or how intensively the overload protection is operating. In addition, 3A is a system of open interfaces for the forward planning of ruts and implement settings, for instance, that is aimed at optimising the fieldwork process. The previous isolation caused by the self-contained system of an autonomous field robot is therefore eliminated. The AgXeed Box from the 3A system enables standard tractors and implements to be integrated into the planning and autonomous implementation process for the first time by means of the ISOBUS interface. Implements can also interact with robots and tractors via this interface in order to optimise processes.

Practically tested solutions are already available: in the soil tillage process, the entire planning and implementation process has been undertaken with the 3A system using Amazone Autotill and Claas Autonomy connect. The work processes are carried out by the machine exactly as planned by the agronomist beforehand. Besides comprehensive route optimisation, the planning also gives consideration to the implement's ideal work settings. This significantly reduces incorrect operation and the resulting effects. The initial planning forms the basis for facilitating work in subsequent years, as only seasonal adjustments are then required.

The 3A system from AgXeed therefore represents significant progress in digitalisation in crop production in the direction of autonomous field robots.

Precision Planting LLC
(Hall 20, Stand B39)

Reliable, geo-referenced and current soil data are indispensable for implementing precision farming, something that has led to a constantly increasing variety of soil scanners with different measuring methods in recent years. These systems usually determine the respective soil parameters relatively, with extensive result scatter in some cases. Not least because of this, an absolute wet-chemical soil analysis is still unavoidable, be it only to calibrate the scanner methods, drone or satellite data. An inexpensive, standardised laboratory method that enables a high number of samples per hectare would give precision farming a boost in this respect. At the same time, the importance of soil in the crop growing process is being highlighted to farmers and crop producers, therefore improving their knowledge of this important basis of production in the long term.

Radicle Agronomics is a system that combines planning, sampling, analysis and the entire logistics of soil sampling. The preparation of labels and labelling bags of soil are forgone. All of this is done automatically on the field while GeoPress fills the GeoTubes with the collected soil. RFID technology is used to provide each sample container, called a tube, with the coordinates and the data necessary for further processing in the laboratory. In an area measuring 3x3 meters, the Radicle Lab soil laboratory included in the system then completes all of the necessary work such as calibration, preparation, analysis and report preparation fully automatically within a matter of minutes. Only the tubes have to be placed into a shelf manually. The software seamlessly integrates sampling, charting and analysis into one single platform. To plan the location-specific sampling points, the platform is able to process shape files; the analysis values are also exported again either in shp or csv format or as a finished report in pdf format.

Radicle Agronomics marks a significant evolution of the soil sampling process for precision farming. In a simple, fast, reliable and precise manner, the system provides the farmer with soil sample results that enable him to make quick and informed decisions.

(Hall 11, Stand A43)

Joint development with

  • Track32 B.V.

Monitoring the quality of the work process is indispensable for achieving a high degree of autonomy. Sensor systems that monitor process quality are therefore a very important element.

iQblue tool monitoring enables tool condition monitoring during cultivator operation and detects possible tool loss as well as coulter wear. By means of a timely warning, tool exchange can be implemented early on in manual, semi- or fully-autonomous applications, therefore ensuring the quality of work or preventing further destruction. Above all, the system is essential for autonomous vehicles, but can also be used on standard tractors.

Tool analysis is carried out during the turning process on the headland by analysing camera images using an AI algorithm when the implement is raised. This enables both progressing wear and tool loss to be detected. It can also be used to forecast when the tool needs to be replaced. The system outputs warnings in the form of a traffic light, whereby coulter loss is indicated in red, damaged or worn coulters in yellow and intact coulters in green.

Automated and driver-independent monitoring of the work tools enables the necessary exchange of wearing parts to be indicated early on as well as foresighted damage recognition, and therefore represents an important further development in the autonomisation of work processes.