By Ben Potter
Driverless Tractors are Here
What a few years ago might have sounded like a technology lifted from a sci-fi movie is about to become a reality on U.S. farms, if Autonomous Solutions Inc. (ASI) has its way. The robotics company debuted two concept autonomous tractors in late August with CNH Industrial—one for a Case IH Magnum and another for New Holland T8.
According to ASI, these tractors will allow for driverless seeding, planting and tillage. The tractors include obstacle detection capabilities as a safety feature. Mel Torrie, ASI founder and CEO, says he hopes the technology will lead to “near-term disruption” in the agriculture industry.
“CNH Industrial’s selection of ASI as a long-term, strategic robotic development provider validates the capability and flexibility of our robotics platform in reducing the risk and costs for equipment manufacturers to bring advanced capabilities to their respective industries,” Torrie says.
ASI envisions these tractors to be operated either manned, unmanned or in some cases, having autonomous tractors work in tandem with other manned machinery. The technology would also allow for varying implements to complete multiple tasks, such as tilling and planting, in a single process.
According to Carlo Lambro, brand president of New Holland Agriculture, users will be able to control autonomous equipment via their desktop computer or portable tablet. They’ll be able to see a path-plotting screen that shows the tractor’s progress, as well as a live camera feed with two front and two rear real-time views. Users will be able to monitor and modify a number of vehicle parameters, including engine speed, implement settings, seeding rate and coulter downforce.
“The NHDrive concept autonomous tractor offers us the opportunity to open up completely new horizons for future farming,” Lambro says. “An autonomous tractor that is able to work day and night helps solve the problem of a lack of specialized labor during the most intense seasons, makes 100% use of the periods of favorable weather for various farming activities and maximizes the rational use of resources.”
Officials at Case IH hope demos of their concept autonomous tractor will provide informative initial reactions from farmers of the technology.
“We just want to know how much interest producers have in these autonomous features and what else they would like to see from us,” says Leo Bose, Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) marketing manager. “It’s not a product launch, by any means. But it could certainly lead to one, or several, down the road.”
In congruence with its concept autonomous tractor announcement, Case IH has changed its company tagline to “Rethink Productivity.”
“[The tagline] embodies both our approach to equipment innovation and our customers’ approach to their operations,” says Tom Dean, marketing director for Case IH North America. “In today’s ag economy, producers know they must focus on achieving the highest level of efficiency if they want to grow and succeed. That’s why we are intensifying our focus on the combination of advanced technologies and agronomic design.”
ASI has also been working with equipment manufacturers in other sectors, such as Ford, Toyota and Boeing.
Visit www.asirobots.com/farming for more details.
By Katie Humphreys
AGCO Brands Roll Out New Tractors and Corn Heads
Challenger adds a new category of tractors—the Challenger 1000 Series. The four models couple the power of a small-frame, articulated four-wheel drive with the flexibility and speed of a lighter-weight, fixed-frame row-crop machine. Engine horsepower ranges from 396 hp to 517 hp with a weight span of 31,204 lb. to 50,706 lb.
The Challenger 1000 Series is built on the AccuEngineering platform, which includes the AccuDrive powertrain—a combination of the Accu-VT continuously variable transmission and variable four-wheel drive. High-capacity, six-cylinder, 12.4-liter MAN engines with VTG turbochargers adjust to optimize airflow and power boost over a wider rpm range. The result delivers 1,770 ft.-lb. of torque at a lower engine speed of 1,100 rpm.
The tractors are created with a ballasting system with five interchangeable weight options from 1,978 lb. to 7,275 lb. to make them adaptable and ideal for row-crop work.
The series is equipped with two types of Michelin tires—the Agribib 480/95R50 for row crop work and the Axiobib 750/75R46 IF (Increased Flexion) for heavy draft work.
For more details, visit a Challenger dealer or www.challenger-ag.us..
Massey Ferguson expands its heavy-duty utility tractor lineup with the 5700 and 6700 Global Series. The tractors join the brand’s 4700 Series to round out the Global Series, which is the largest single manufacturing and new product project in AGCO’s history. The MF5710 and MF5711 are 100-hp and 110-hp tractors and the MF6712 and MF6713 provide 120 hp and 130 hp, respectively.
The 5700 Series, equipped with four-wheel drive, weighs in at 9,840 lb. with a cab and features a three-point lift capacity of 7,716 lb. full-stroke at 24" and maximum lift capacity of 8,664 lb. at 24". The 6700 Series four-wheel-drive tractors with a cab weigh 10,392 lb. and have lift capacity of 9,392 lb. full-stroke at 24" with a maximum lift of 10,582 lb. at 24".
The AGCO Power 4.4-liter four-cylinder Tier 4 Final-compliant diesel engine has a Selective Catalytic Reduction emission system. All models have a 12Fx12R two-range Power Shuttle.
Massey Ferguson introduces the 6700S Series—the company’s largest, fully equipped mid-range tractors. The three models, the MF6714S, MF6715S and MF6716S, feature maximum engine horsepower of 140 hp, 150 hp and 160 hp, respectively, and three transmission options all with Engine Power Management.
The 6700S Series boast a base weight of 15,432 lb. and maximum lift capacity of 5,032 lb. at the pivot pin.
The tractors are powered with a 4.9-liter AGCO Power four-cylinder diesel engine meeting Tier 4 Final emission standards using a Selective Catalytic Reduction system. The engines breathe intercooled intake air provided by a new turbocharger equipped with an electronic waste-gate and are fed by a 29,000 psi fuel injection system.
For more details on the Massey Ferguson tractors, visit a dealer or www.masseyferguson.us/products/tractors/.
AGCO Corporation broadens its harvesting options with the introduction of the 3200 Series corn heads. The six-row 30" and folding 12-row 30" configurations are available for Massey Ferguson and Gleaner combines. Both heads are available with a chopping option.
For more information, stop by a local Massey Ferguson or Gleaner dealer or visit www.agcocorp.com.
By Sara Brown
John Deere Tweaks Tools for Farmers’ Productivity
John Deere’s ExactApply intelligent nozzle control system on its 4 Series sprayers will give applicators greater accuracy in all field shapes and sizes, even when turning. Starting with 2018 models, this technology provides sprayer operators full variable-rate and shut-off functionality at the nozzle level (every 15" to 20"), which is an improvement over sprayers equipped with John Deere Section Control.
John Deere’s Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) system offers three times the pulsing frequency of traditional PWM systems on a variety of nozzles. This allows the sprayer to run at a consistent pressure and droplet size, regardless of the sprayer speed and application flow rate.
Applicators can switch spraying between two preselected nozzles with the push of a button inside the cab. This increases the range of application to achieve consistent droplet size and reduces the number of nozzles needed. Applicators can automatically vary the rate across the entire boom. LED lighting on each nozzle improves spray pattern visibility.
ExactApply is integrated with the GreenStar 630 Display and SprayStar. It is compatible with all boom sizes equipped with stainless steel plumbing.
Group 6 and 7 S-Series combines now have an eight-row folding corn head option. The 608FC corn head helps alleviate transportation challenges and eliminates the need for header trailers, tow vehicles and extra manpower. The head folds to a 10.9' width and is available in 30" row spacing with or without the stalk chopping option. Like other 600C corn heads, the 608FC has an improved row unit slip clutch and drive shaft interface.
The 9R Series wheeled and scraper special tractors will feature a redesigned composite fuel tank for model year 2017. The new sloped design of the tank improves the aesthetics of 9R tractors and offers more rear visibility for the operator. A dual-fill design will let operators fill the fuel tank from either side. Capacity is 320 gal. on 9370R and 9470R tractors and 400 gal. on 9529R and 9620R tractors.
The change gives the tractors a sleeker look and is more efficient for the operator. These new tractors will be available in November.
John Deere is opening it’s data platform to other software suppliers to offer farmers more tools and features to manage their operations. A new page, “More Tools,” in the Operations Center provides information and links to solutions from other companies. This allows farmers to customize their own data toolbox without having to transfer data.
One example is a satellite imagery company that uses field boundaries in the farmer’s Operations Center to locate and organize imagery files. Farmers can then use the same imagery for multiple application systems.
JDLink Connect helps farmers collect machine and agronomic data and automatically adds the information to the Operations Center. This gives the farmer a full picture of what is happening on the operation. It also connects machines directly to dealers for service and support.
For more information, see your local John Deere dealer or visit www.JohnDeere.com/ag.