The giant German farm machinery expo Agritechnica is a glimpse into the future, giving farmers a look at the equipment they’ll be filling their machinery sheds with in coming years. That includes forage growers. If the machines on display this past November are any indication, they can expect a tidal wave of innovations.
Krone’s Premos 5000
Krone’s prototype Premos 5000 pellet harvester will provide a way for growers to handle forages the same way they now handle grain — and with some of the same equipment. It’s easy to see why it won a Gold Innovation Award at Agritechnica.
The first ever in-field pelleting harvester, the Premos 5000 picks up swaths behind a tractor the way any other baler does now, but immediately converts the forage into 16 millimetre pellets. A nine-cubic-metre hopper holds five tonnes of them, which can be loaded into a grain truck and hauled back to the yard or directly to a buyer.
“We can handle it like corn,” said Kai Lüpping, one the technical staff behind the Premos 5000’s development, as he stood beside the machine at Krone’s display during Agritechnica. “It’s not one big bale.”
As material feeds into the Premos 5000, it is crimped between a pair of rollers that force it through extrusion moulds 16 millimetres in diameter. “This innovative system eliminates any energy-intensive pre-treatment (chopping, milling),” reads the company press release. “In fact, the energy demand is just half that required by stationary pelleting systems.”
That said, the Premos 5000 will still require a tractor that has in the neighbourhood of 400 horsepower to run it.
Krone says the pellets can be used for more than just livestock feed. For instance, 250 grams of pellets can absorb up to one litre of liquid, making them useful for animal bedding. And because they are so absorbent, they can reduce the amount of manure coming out of a barn compared to typical straw bedding.
The pellets also have a density that is three to four times that of a standard straw bale, so they can be used as biofuel. The company says 2.5 kilograms of pellets have the same energy content as a litre of heating fuel. On-farm biofuel systems are popular in Europe, especially Germany, so Krone has been emphasizing this benefit.
The Premos 5000 is in its third year of development and continues in field trials. Krone expects to have it ready for commercial launch in 2017. As it stands now, Lüpping says the price tag will likely come in at around C$372,500.
Learn more on the company’s website at landmaschinen.krone.de.
For operations that rely on silage as livestock feed, Agronic, a company in the Netherlands, offers the Multibaler, which can take regular silage and pack it into a round bale shape and wrap it in plastic. Just like the Premos 5000, it too can work either right behind a tractor in the field or stationary in the farmyard.
Producers can use a forage harvester mounted to a three-point hitch on the front of a tractor to blow the chopped material directly into the Multibaler, which is pulled behind the tractor. The Multibaler drops wrapped round bales of silage in the field, so ensiling can become a one-person operation. There is no need to immediately haul silage to a pit and pack it. The bales can be hauled out of the field later as time permits. When they are broken open, livestock get exactly the same type and quality of feed they would if the silage had been handled conventionally.
Agronic builds two sizes of Multibaler: the 820 and 1210 models, which produce two sizes of bales ranging from 250 to 450 kilograms with the 820, and 600 to 1,000 kilograms with the 1210. PTO drive provides power to the Multibalers, which require only a 70-horsepower tractor for the smaller model and 90 for the larger 1210. The Multibalers can also be ordered with their own on-board diesel power supply for stationary use.
If producers want to sell silage feed, having it wrapped in round bales makes that process along with transport a little smoother.
Depending on the model and features, a multibaler will set you back something north of C$140,000. The company’s website is gebrknoll.nl.