MMore than a hundred machines and equipment have been submitted to the "Technical News" Contest held at FIMA 2018. Among them are chosen those that, in the opinion of the Jury, offer new functions, or improve the procedures established in relation to their practical importance, productivity and safety at work or the environmental aspects of agricultural operations.
A selection of the machines presented to the "Technical News" Contest, along with all the winners, will be part of the "Innovation Gallery". From this "Gallery" you can analyze the trends in the mechanization of agriculture, with special emphasis on what is practiced in Southern European countries.
In agricultural tractors
Contrary to what has happened in previous years, this time the companies have not presented new solutions aimed at reducing the polluting emissions of the engines. This is a consequence of the fact that they already meet the strictest levels established by the Regulations for the coming years.
In relation to the transmissions, the most significant is the introduction of low-power tractors of devices such as electro-hydraulic inverters, and in the high powers the "double clutch" systems to reduce the interval of time elapsed in the passage between two contiguous relations of change.
There is a great interest on the part of manufacturers in the search for solutions to problems that lengthen the time of preparation for work or affecting safety.
This is the case of the quick coupling system of the PTO, based on two elements, one of them attached to the output shaft of the tractor and the other to the fork of the shaft of the PTO. In this way the coupling is achieved without having to align the grooves, and the connection is made automatically when it is operated from the tractor with the intervention of a claw clutch. A prestressed push button with a spring is used to separate the PTO.
In order to achieve a longitudinal balance in traction, a hooking option has been presented in the lower arms of the tractor triple linkage that can be moved longitudinally and vertically. This, in addition to facilitating the attachment of the implements, allows to establish a longitudinal balance of the dynamic loads on the front and rear axles depending on the type of implement and the traction effort needed to drag it.
The balance of load on the axles requires placing or removing weights of ballast on the wheels, which is a heavy and time-consuming work, which often is not done. To reduce the assembly and dismantling times, a counterweight system has been introduced using the front fork of a tractor loader, which reduces them to 5 minutes per wheel. A support for the weights attached to the wheel rim receives the ballast discs and a quick tensioner allows them to be fixed so that they are tied to the wheel.
The transmission ratio between the steering wheel and the wheels has traditionally been constant, and, for safety reasons, it has remained relatively high, which delays jobs where fast maneuvers are required, as is the case with front loaders. Using complex systems, solutions are offered in which this transmission ratio changes with the speed of travel, or the option of full rotation of the front wheels with minimum steering wheel rotation for very low speed operations. Now several manufacturers offer systems that allow to use different relations in the transmission between the steering wheel and the front wheels, for pre-fixed intervals or in a continuous way, manageable from the monitor of the tractor and acting in an electrohydraulic direction. In another case, a simpler solution is offered using a servomotor and a system of planetary gears, which allow modifying the transmission ratio at the exit of the steering wheel in front of the orbitrol that controls the steering.
To solve the problems that occur when connecting many implements simultaneously in compact tractors, both on the sides and on the front, solutions are offered that make it possible, minimizing the number of pipes that are outside the outer limits of the tractor.
The entry into force of the Regulation of Braking that affects tractors and their trailers has forced manufacturers to seek solutions to meet it. In this line is presented a braking system controlled by inertia, by means of a central electronic system located on the tractor, which detects the forces acting on the trailer's lance, activating the brakes of the trailer at the moment it is working at compression.
Also for large trailers there is a device that controls the angle of rotation of the self-steering wheels in its reverse travel, fully integrated in the trailer and without any element in the tractor, which facilitates maneuverability and reduces the traction effort in the turns.
Another aspect that evolves by leaps and bounds are tires. The commercial offer is generalized in all the brands of the high flexibility IF - VF models, which can work at very low inflation pressure to reduce soil compaction. Sensors are incorporated in the wheel to transmit parameters such as pressure and temperature during field work via Bluetooth. Also noteworthy are the revolutionary designs of both the sides and the tread to increase the support surface of the tires on the ground.
Also begins the commercialization of agricultural tractors of low power (60 HP) that use electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries (650 volts and 100 kWh), although its autonomy is only 4 hours using 50% of the available power.
Powered and self-propelled machines
• Soil work and crop implantation
In the whole of agriculture there is a rationalization of soil work to reduce costs. However, there is always an innovative commercial offer aimed at improving the quality of work, such as the plow that performs the lifting and lowering of their bodies individually, which allows their progressive entry into work in the headlands of the plots, automatically and controlled by a GNSS system.
As the most innovative equipment, it is worth highlighting the presentation of a "weeder" for the elimination of grass in woody crops in line, which uses a high-pressure water jet (1250 bar) with a 4-nozzle rotating head, which rotates 600 rev / min, with a water consumption of 1000-1500 L / ha (0.33 L per linear meter) on woody plantations in rows spaced 2.5 m and moving at a speed of 2.5 km / h. Both the aerial part of the grass and its root system are destroyed.
On the other hand, it increases the commercial offer of combined equipment to decompact the soil, maintaining the surface residue as a way to control erosion and reduce energy consumption in the preparation of the soil.
For the precision sowing, different manufacturers offer sowing machines with sowing bodies that can work at high speed, and leaving the seeds positioned regularly in real frame or staggered. For this, electric motors are used that directly drive the shaft of the doser, with electronic sensors that detect the presence of both faults and doubles, and with new designs in the discharge lines, so that they do not negatively influence the speed of fall of seeds, or forcing the discharge by pressurized air.
• Distribution of agrochemicals and irrigation water
The evolution of the centrifugal spreaders continues to achieve a variable dosage with granulated mineral fertilizers. Among other improvements highlights the incorporation of rotary electric activators for the opening and closing of the gates that allow the exit of the fertilizer of the hopper, which reacts to more speed and are easier to clean.
To facilitate the loading of slurry tankers, equipment controlled by remote control from the tractor arrives on the market, which can be easily transported hooked on the tractor link.
Where more innovations are presented is in relation to the equipment for the application of phytosanitary products. It should be noted an active damping system of the spray bars against oscillations in their movement through the field. To this end, compensating hydraulic cylinders are used that act in a controlled manner on the pulsing rods and nozzles in frequency and opening / closing time.
Equipment is presented to perform simultaneous treatments with solid and liquid phytosanitary products in which the dust is introduced by absorption from the tank sucked by the turbine. The air and liquid outlets (through the nozzles) are joined in the nozzle holder bars.
As a way to reduce the waste that is generated in the internal washing of the pipes once the treatment is finished, the compressed air is introduced in the sprayers of bars expelling the waste through the nozzles. This allows to reduce in more than 50% of the liquid waste in the field cleaning.
For hydropneumatic sprayers with a higher level of technology, a system is introduced that establishes the regulations according to the plant mass and atmospheric conditions, with continuous connection to the internet, which allows registering all the parameters of the spray, as well as sending orders directly job. With the registration of the performance data, traceability is ensured.
On the other hand, the commercial offer of pulsating nozzles is increased, and nozzles specially designed for the agitation and internal cleaning of the tank and the tank for the mixtures of products and containers are presented.
There are also improvements in the irrigation facilities, highlighting drive systems of DC motors for the displacement of the pivots that provides a constant torque over a wide range of speeds, which allows it to adapt to irrigation cycles with low doses.
As elements designed to optimize irrigation, the supply of sensors that inform the soil moisture status and supply information that can be managed through the Internet increases considerably. It is necessary to emphasize those that inform on the state hydric of the crop by means of the changes of pressure of turgidity in the leaves.
• Collection equipment
In equipment for the collection of fodder, a new system for wrapping cylindrical bales in fixed chamber balers with plastic foil should be highlighted. For this purpose, a 35 micrometer thick cover sheet is used with integrated adhesive bands for bale closure, adapted to bales of 135 m in diameter and with only 1.5 turns on the bale.
In the collection, corn heads are offered for the harvesters with which a maximum stubble harvest is achieved, at ground level, to avoid that the remains serve to close the cycle of some of the pests that attack the stems of the corn during its cycle of culture.
In grain harvesters, a new design in axial flow machines with double rotor and 17.1 m3 grain tank that offers a reduced width of transport when using propulsion rubber bands. It has acoustic mass sensors that allow to verify the quality of the threshed grain in real time to optimize the operation of the machine.
IT management and automation solutions
This block includes programs for the automatic control of machines in the field, as well as others that are used to control farm management processes.
In the first block we must highlight the continuous connection to the internet of atomizers, already mentioned above, as well as the automatic control system in cereal harvesters in terms of cylinder speed and separation of the concave to optimize collection and achieve that the harvester fits automatically under the supervision of the operator.
As a previous step to the autonomous driving of tractors, there are support systems for the driver when driving on the road in transport operations, with data communication to a remote server and an interface for the operator. Comfort, safety and economy of service are taken into consideration and help to improve the way of driving.
For the control of fodder-conditioners of forage systems are presented that do it automatically, controlling the operations in the headers and within the own plot using the mechanisms of the machine controlled by the ISO-BUS system. The global positioning of the machine by GNSS is used as a reference in the displacement of the same on the plot.
There are also systems for the active guidance of implements, especially those that work in the interline of row crops using the lateral displacement of the implement hooked on the three-point of the tractor. Cameras are used on the implement for the predictive calculation of the deviations that can occur with respect to the plant line. These systems are essential for any progress in the robotization of the tractor.
For the first time an autonomous tractor is presented at FIMA, although it is warned that for the time being it will not be marketed in Europe, and that in order for it to work, it is necessary to develop the parcel maintenance programs specifically designed for the management of autonomous machinery.
As a fully operational system, communication and warning systems are provided for tractors and grain harvesters, which provide real-time telematics information of the machines working in the field, which helps to prevent breakdowns and facilitates preventive maintenance. In the case of harvesters, their behavior can be evaluated remotely, and the operating parameters can be directly modified. Increase the offer of new sensors for mass, humidity, protein, etc., with greater precision and shorter response times.
Among the multiple management systems that use the "cloud" for data storage, we must highlight one specifically designed for the logistics management of slurry distribution, which provides work orders and keeps a record of the applications made, and the control of the application made by the slurry tank.
Also in this block it is necessary to emphasize the offer of programs that help to the manufacturers of spreaders by projection to optimize his designs, reducing the costs of the essays in field conditions, and the necessary times for the put in the market different solutions to improve the surface distribution of the mineral fertilizer.
Luis Márquez Delgado
Prof. Dr. Agronomist
President of the Jury of "Technical Innovations Contest" in FIMA