2011 was a remarkable year in the farm
equipment sector, unlike any in recent memory. The number of new
machines introduced to the market this year was more than impressive.
John Deere held what it referred to as the largest introduction of
new machinery in its 174-year history. AGCO described its new product
launch as the largest in the history of the North American
agricultural equipment industry.
And it wasn’t just the major
manufacturers that were rolling out new stuff at a breathtaking pace;
it seemed nearly every company, large or small, had something new to
show this year. At Agritechnica, the world’s largest farm machinery
show held in Hanover Germany, there were a record number of
exhibitors this November, 2,748 to be exact. That meant the world’s
largest fairground was full to capacity to accomodate that much new
Maybe I shouldn’t say iron, because
more than a little of what was new this year was electronic or just
digital. Farming is moving into what in the 1960s would have been
referred to as the space age. Maybe that description still fits. The
S Series combines Deere introduced this year have more lines of
software code than early versions of the space shuttle.
And robotics officially entered the
picture this year. AGCO’s Fendt line introduced Guide Connect, which
allows an unmanned second tractor to follow along like a puppy behind
one operated by a driver. John Deere’s Machine Sync uses similar
technology to automate on-the-go unloading from a combine. Case IH
won an award at the SIMA machinery show in Paris early in the year
for a similar system that isn’t yet market ready. Then, there was
Kinze’s autonomous tractor project, which allows a tractor to pull a
grain cart from combine to truck completely on its own.
Things have started moving fast with
autonomous technology. And I suspect that pace will increase.
High-voltage electric drive is set to
soon replace some hydraulic systems to improve efficiency. There were
several machines shown at Agritechnica that demonstrated new
electrical drive systems. AEF, the Agricultural Industry Electronics
Foundation, the industry group made up of many of the engineers
involved in developing those new systems, recently added high-voltage
to its list of working groups; and they’re now in the process of
establishing standards for the implementation of market-ready,
Now that the year is coming to an end,
I’ve tallied up the travel stats involved with attending those
product launches and shows in order to bring back the information on
all this new development for the pages of Grainews. Here are the
numbers. I’ve been on 22 connecting flights to, or through, four
provinces, one territory, five U.S. states and across the Atlantic to
Hopefully, all that effort helped keep
you in loop with what’s going on in the farm machinery world.
Thanks for following along. And if
there is a topic you’d like to see addressed in the magazine, or in
this blog, don’t hesitate to email me with your suggestions.
All the best for 2012, and merry
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