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New Australian harvesting benchmark

THURSDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2012: TWO SUPER-CAPACITY CLAAS LEXION 750 combine harvesters have set a new Australian benchmark by stripping 793.5 tonnes of wheat from 316.6 hectares in just under 10 hours.

Fitted with high-speed tracked undercarriage, Trimble GPS positioning systems and either a 12-metre variable cutterbar or draper front, the two machines achieved a remarkable average yield of 44.6 tonnes per hour.

At times, the combines were yielding almost 65 tonnes per hour.

Landpower National Sales Manager - CLAAS, Guy Fordham, says the figures are even more remarkable given the record was established in ‘real’ conditions.

“These are the raw figures straight off the machine at the end of the day – no tinkering, no fudging or adjusting for moisture content,” he says.

“Our drivers were instructed to drive to professional standards.

“They had to cut each block out, they had to wait for trucks as necessary and they had to clean up the short runs before moving on.

“As it was, the harvesting conditions were quite challenging, with lots of trees and short runs across three different paddocks.

“This meant each combine was effectively working for about nine hours.

“It’s also worth noting that our drivers were typical operators – yes, one was a professional demonstrator but the other was a service technician with limited experience.”

The two machines used a total of 1,530 litres of fuel during the day.

Unbeknown to the organisers, the demonstration site also had three other class eight combines working in the same paddock.

“This was never meant to be comparison between ‘us’ and ‘them’, but we’ve ended up with fairly solid comparative data from three makes of class eight combines all working under the same conditions,” Guy says.

“We aren’t calling it a record because we’re not sure if any such record exists, but it’s certainly a line in the sand for other manufacturers to consider.”

The demonstration was conducted in a moisture-stressed wheat crop on Archie and Meg Kennedy’s property, “Wangaratta”, 35 km north of Warren in central NSW.

Together with his parents, Archie and Caroline Kennedy of “Merridgerri”, Warren, the Kennedys sow more than 6,000 hectares of wheat, canola, chickpeas and lupins each year.

This year’s crop of Sunvex wheat – a main season, fully-awned wheat variety with similar maturity to Sunvale but slightly shorter – had an average yield of 2.49 tonnes/ha.

Consulting agronomist, Dean Walton, attributes the pleasing result to the Kennedys’ adherence to a strict summer fallow and in-crop management program.

“To get this yield in a crop that only had 50 mm of in-crop rain is a credit to Archie’s spray program, which he does himself and always on time,” he says.

The paddock received two fallow sprays over summer and then a knockdown before sowing.

In addition, the crop received a tank-mix of three selective grass and broadleaf herbicides and a fungicide in late July.

The crop was sown in mid-May at 25 kg/ha using a 30.6 metre Gason planter and AMF airseeder towed by a Baldwin 600, an Australian-manufactured ‘super tractor’ revered by machinery aficionados.

Regarded as ‘the greatest tractor never built’, only a handful of these 600 hp (450 kW) behemoths were completed before production ceased in the early 1990s.

The Kennedys have about 20,000 tonnes of on-farm storage, eliminating the need to cart grain.

Instead of chaser bins, they run a high-speed shuttle service between the paddocks and their grain sheds using 12-tonne tip trucks.

A somewhat bemused Archie Kennedy says he can’t help but be impressed by the results.

“To be honest, I wasn’t scheduled for an on-farm demonstration,” he says.

“Ned was looking for a big crop to conduct a side-by-side trial of his two combines and I was happy to help – who’d knock back a day’s harvesting?

“I’m happy with my two existing combines but the results are certainly food for thought.

“The name of the game is to get the crop off as quickly as possible.”

After a few celebratory beers, the four-man crew cleaned and loaded the two harvesters ready to move onto the next farm.

“We’re only about half-way through 150 on-farm demonstrations this harvest, so there’s not much time to dwell on this,” Landpower’s LEXION product specialist, Ned Jeffery says.

The combines and their four-man crew set off from Emerald, Queensland, in early October and will follow the harvest all the way down the eastern wheatbelt until they reach Kadina, South Australia, in mid-December.

CLAAS LEXION is recognised as the world’s most productive combine harvester.

Last September, a factory-standard LEXION 770 fitted with tracks and a 12 metre variable cutterbar set a Guinness World Record by harvesting a staggering 675 tonnes of wheat in eight hours.

It went on to harvest a total of 1,360 tonnes in 20 hours using 11 per cent less fuel than the previous world record set in 2008.

“These machines are purpose-designed to harvest more grain per hectare, cover more hectares per hour and operate for more hours per day,” Ned says.

“Obviously Australian conditions are different to those in Europe, which is one of the reasons why we have decided to conduct what we believe is the largest harvesting demonstration program yet staged in Australia.”

Further information:

Ned Jeffrey

Product Specialist – CLAAS LEXION

Landpower

437 372 768  

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