From planting to harvesting and back again, this past year bore witness to a wealth of new machines with increased productivity and new concepts.
New engines have led to an entirely new lineup of tractors with high-tech powerhouses. Harvesting equipment has been revolutionized. Pickups have climbed to a new plateau. All of the other workhorses and equipment you employ have been upgraded, as well.
Tractor tech. Tractor manufacturers have successfully transitioned to Tier 3 engines with their 2007 production. The result: new models from all brands.
As part of John Deere's largest single-product introduction in 25 years or more, the machinery maker launched upgraded utility, row-crop and four-wheel-drive tractors. The tracked models in the 9030 Series have a redesigned bogey undercarriage with an AirCushion walking I-beam suspension system for a smoother ride.
The much-talked-about articulated four-wheel-drive Challenger 900B Series began production this year. The brand also added a utility tractor to its 500B Series for a range that spans from 100 hp to 160 hp.
Case IH steps up its power offering for Magnum and Steiger models. The Magnum 335 is the most powerful tractor ever offered in this series rated at 275 PTO hp. Turbo Compound technology improves fuel efficiency on five new Steiger models.
New Holland took special note of its T6000 Series when updating to Tier 3 engines. The 80 PTO hp to 120 PTO hp lineup offers three specification levels.
With two new row-crop tractors at 133 hp and 147 hp, McCormick filled out its power lineup.
Module makers. Cotton harvesting will never be the same thanks to two newly engineered designs. Case IH and John Deere introduced revolutionary machines that pick cotton and build the module on board.
The Case IH Module Express builds a half-sized rectangular module. The John Deere 7760 Self-Propelled Cotton Picker shapes a round module and wraps it in plastic before unloading it at the edge of the field. Using one of these pickers combines the work of three machines.
High-horsepower harvest. Combines have also received recent upgrades. AGCO launched new Class 6, 7 and 8 models for its Challenger, Gleaner and Massey Ferguson brands. Case IH added the 7010 model and 2500 Series to its Axial-Flow lineup of combines. John Deere offers new 70 Series machines along with updated corn heads. The CR9000 Series of rotary combines joined the New Holland family.
Forage harvesters have more muscle than ever. Claas, John Deere, Krone and New Holland stepped up their power offering when introducing new machines. The largest models from Claas and Krone are powered by two six-cylinder Mercedes Benz engines with maximum horsepower at 830 hp and 823 hp, respectively.
The pickup era. More truck news came down the road in the past year than ever before. New emission laws, diesel engines and platforms have made for an exciting full-size truck market.
Long dominated by American manufacturers, Toyota sent shock waves through the industry with its all-new, full-size Tundra in 2007. This true workhorse is designed to directly compete with Ford's F-150, Chevrolet's Silverado, the Dodge Ram and GMC's Sierra. Nissan continues to beef up its Titan, and, although smaller and more refined, Honda's Ridgeline unibody construction has found a following.
Heavy duties aren't being left behind. Ford's F450 now comes with a true pickup bed from the factory. In fact, increasingly what was once only an aftermarket option can now be factory made. Ford has a tailgate step, GM has added an optional trailer brake controller and Dodge has a factory exhaust brake on diesels—and those are just a few examples. We now have factory-installed bedliners, tailgate assists and lockable storage compartments within the bed frame.
Thanks to a steady demand from those who live in town, creature comforts have continued to grow as options, too. The good news for farmers is the return of the work truck to many lineups. It's possible to get models without carpet that can literally be hosed down. Just make sure you don't short out the computer plugged into the dash while doing it.
Cutting-edge seeding. Planters and seeders are not left behind in mechanical innovations. The majority of manufacturers have introduced bulk fill options and are making advancements in seed metering.
Kinze Manufacturing offers its first twin-row planter. The 3600TR Twin-Line planters are available in 12-row and 16-row models and plant 7½" twins on 30" centers. Kinze partnered with Ag Leader Technologies to develop the Kinze Vision system, which fully incorporates Ag Leader's Insight display and Kinze planters.
John Deere also took on a partner in planter innovation, Syngenta Crop Protection. The companies teamed together to introduce the Central Insecticide System that integrates the liquid insecticide Force CS with select John Deere planters.
Great Plains Manufacturing introduced the 60' Yield-Pro Planter, the first with the ability to plant 15" rows or twin rows.
For planter performance in real-time, the 20/20 SeedSense from Precision Planting displays down force, ground contact, singulation, population, spacing and speed.
Two new precision seeders from Case IH are early adopters of universal electronics. The Case IH Precision Air 2280 and Precision Air 2330 come equipped with ISO 11783-compliant electronic controls.
Diverse offerings. Tillage tools have been upgraded as manufacturers match the variety in demand for this segment. All tillage manufacturers have modified their fall and spring tillage equipment offerings as farmers adjust tillage to match a field's need.
Case IH now offers its first-ever vertical-tillage tool, the True Tandem 330 Turbo. Great Plains has extended its tillage equipment with new one-pass tools, disks and vertical-tillage tools. John Deere filled out its lineup with a strip-till applicator, five-section disk and mulch finisher. Krause Corporation uses the Quad-Fold system for impressively narrow transport widths. Landoll launched a completely new line of coulter chisels. The Reel Disk from McFarlane Manufacturing is a seedbed preparation tool. Salford Farm Machinery offers an updated primary tillage tool. Sunflower Manufacturing has added its 1435 Series disk harrow with seven models.
Application choices. Sprayers have also been in the spotlight. Several new models of self-propelled (regular and high-clearance designs) and pull-type sprayers are now available.
Hagie Manufacturing introduced the 1,400-gal. STS14 featuring a high-clearance and upfront boom design. Another high-clearance manufacturer, Miller, rolled out an entirely new series with the five-model 4000 Series featuring upfront booms and an improved suspension. John Deere also introduced a series of self-propelled sprayers; the 30 Series has three models ranging from 245 hp to 325 hp.
Case IH looked at its Patriot line of self-propelled sprayers when designing the SRX Series of pull-types. They are available with wheeled or suspended booms from 80' to 134' and a tank capacity of 1,000 gal. or 1,600 gal.
New ways to move. While all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) will always have their place as the fast-cutting horse on the farm and ranch, a new breed of small workhorse, the utility vehicle (UV), is taking over. UVs have gained popularity with farmers who want maneuverability in tight spaces, the capacity to haul more than an ATV and easier drivability.
As the demand for UVs grows, new features make them far more advanced than the converted golf carts of yore. Small beds for light hauling have been beefed up, as have suspensions, engines and brakes. Some models like the Kubota RTV resemble mini 4x4 trucks, while others like the Yamaha Rhino have evolved with speed capabilities to make them more like ATVs than golf carts.
Editor's Note: Pam Henderson and Wayne Wenzel contributed to this story.