When ag engineers get together, it’s not as though competition among brands disappears, but the focus is really more about ag engineers cheering each other as they try to “figure stuff out” to make it better.
Jaynes lynn
Managing Editor / Ag Proud – Idaho

After listening to producers across the nation, ag equipment engineers spend time solving the problems identified – things like how to fold the heads on a forage harvester, how to boost wireless devices in-field, how to create a cutterbar that will cut at lower heights without tilting the knives and (yes …) where to put that 2-liter cup of soda in the cab (totally not kidding). From the AE50 Outstanding Innovation Award winners, here are some of the technologies and improvements coming down the pike.

CLAAS 926 Series corn head

The problem: Keeping lodged cornstalks from hair-pinning on the dividers.

The solution: Optional downed-corn augers mount on top of the end dividers, preventing lodged stalks from wrapping up. Optional tall-corn risers prevent lodged stalks from hanging up on end dividers. Dual-sided deck-plate adjustments on the CLAAS 926 Series corn heads keep cornstalks centered on the knife rolls for minimal loss and consistent feeding.

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Dura-ABS DI automated direct injection

The problem: How to reduce operator error and herbicide exposure, provide recirculation of chemicals and eliminate cross-contamination.

The solution: Automate the filling process. The Dura-ABS DI directly injects multiple chemicals simultaneously into the carrier flow. This not only reduces error and herbicide exposure but allows the operator to multitask while accurately dispensing repeatable batches.

Furrow Underground System

The problem: Previous soil moisture probes required aboveground components (and careful drivers to avoid them) and were limited by radio technology.

The solution: The Furrow Underground System uses wireless technology in the soil probe, which can be completely buried with no wires to get caught in row-crop machinery. Because of the underground feature, the probes can be buried ahead of time in the off season.

Optidisc Elite cutterbar

The problem: Cutterbars are currently tilted to get a lower cut on the plant stem. This pulls more dirt into the crop so the operator loses quality of crop (or yield, by raising it).

The solution: Kuhn North America redesigned the cutterbar and reduced the height of the bar, retaining differential disc spacing. The narrower height enables short cutting heights of 1.5 inches with a flat 2.5-degree cutterbar angle.

MacDon R216 SP rotary disc header

The problem: Heavy forage cutting conditions create the need for wider conditioning rolls that eliminate internal augers for more even drying on self-propelled windrowers.

The solution: Just that – wider condition rolls on a 16-foot self-propelled disc header. Two conditioning options are available: steel inter-meshing rolls (ideal for high-volume crops that require aggressive feeding) or polyurethane rolls (that deliver a crimp/crush action to gently condition leaves in delicate-stemmed crops).

R5 Click

The problem: How many apps do you have on your phone right now to manage your operation? Too many.

The solution: RealmFive Inc. in Lincoln, Nebraska, created the R5 Click – a comprehensive app that unifies previously disparate sensing devices and data into a single geospatial platform. Users can view historical data and current data including soil moisture, soil temperature, rainfall, wind speed, wind direction, water level, equipment status and center-pivot irrigation status.

OptiSense belt stall indicator

The problem: Plugs and downtime during hay merging operations.

The solution: Kuhn created a sensor for the belt stall indicator that alerts the operator if the merger belts begin to slow and when the machine is reaching maximum capacity or a belt stalls. The OptiSense belt stall indicator helps even inexperienced operators use the merger at peak efficiency.

Plant Stand Analyzer

The problem: In corn breeding programs, plants are counted by hand as part of the mapping system. It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive.

The solution: The Plant Stand Analyzer from FieldRobo LLC is a motorized four-row or eight-row system that has stand detection accuracy of 97% at travel speeds of up to 14 mph, using high-speed reflective laser proximity sensors. It not only counts populations but interprets plant spacing, stalk size, stalk inclination angle and the number of doubles and tillers.

P-Series air carts

The problem: When air cart tanks reach near-empty conditions, it’s difficult keeping adequate coverage on the meter rollers.

The solution: The New Holland P-Series air carts incorporate an automatic leveling and agitation system for those fine seeds, inoculants or other products with a small particle size. This ensures adequate coverage on the meter rollers when tank volumes are low.

Fusion 720 Xtractor combination wrapper

The problem: Some operators have a need for a single-bale wrapper, and some have a need for inline bale wrappers. What happens when an operator needs both? There isn’t one machine to handle both operations.

The solution: Groupe Anderson Inc. in Quebec, Canada, combined operations of inline and single-bale wrapping into one machine. Individually wrapped bales can serve as a sealed end for inline tube wraps, and it can be done with the same machine.

Fetch communications device

The problem: In-field wireless range is inadequate and requires line-of-sight for most devices.

The solution: Fetch acts as a gateway communications edge device. Unlike typical wireless repeaters, Fetch provides store-and-forward capabilities and does not require line-of-sight between devices. When running on solar power, Fetch is ideal for remote, drop-in networks.

AFS Connect Magnum tractor

The problem: Producers buy an $80,000 pickup and want the same comfort and features in their $300,000 tractor, and the cab is getting a little crowded with all the displays.

The solution: Case IH developed the new AFS Pro 1200 display that allows operation of all tractor and implement applications and redesigns the cab to make access easier. With more storage space (enter the 2-liter cup holders …) and more power outlets to connect through personal electronic devices, comfort has never been better.

These descriptive snapshots don’t cover every award-winning technology celebrated for 2020 – there were more. Check out the AE50 award winners at www.asabe.org/Awards-Competitions/AE50-Awards/AE50-Award-Winners. Congratulations to the winning engineers. Thanks for listening to producers.  end mark

PHOTO: The Kuhn-manufactured Optidisc Elite Cutterbar is one of the AE50 award winners for 2020, shown on display at the National Farm Machinery Show. Photo by Lynn Jaynes.

Lynn Jaynes