Stretched out across the large grassy lawn in early June in front of John Deere’s Harvester Works in Moline, Illinois, was a broad assortment of equipment, with marketing staff showing off to the farm media from Canada and the U.S. what Deere would be adding to its product line for 2018.
Several of the machines on display had already been introduced to the public over the winter, such as the new line of 5R tractors and improvements to the 4 Series sprayers that include carbon fibre booms. However, there was still a significant variety of new equipment releases and updates.
Among them were the digital enhancements to the MaxEmerge 5e and ExactEmerge planters with SeedStar 4HP, which improves in-cab monitoring through the Gen 4 CommandCenter 4600 display. Multiple bar charts can be viewed simultaneously, and it has a “zoom” feature for detailed row-by-row information. Like much of Deere’s latest digital technology, it is customizable and comes with simplified, intuitive screen formats.
The mobile row-unit runoff feature also allows for diagnostic and calibration checks through the use of a mobile device.
To add to the new tillage implements that the brand introduced in mid-winter, Deere’s Frontier line will begin offering four new “economical” VT17 vertical tillage implements. These are designed for smaller-acreage farmers, built in working widths from 10 to 15 feet with horsepower requirements in the 85 to 150 range.
Also under the Frontier brand name, Deere debuted its LS11 line of tractor-mounted sprayers. Four three-point hitch mounted models are available with booms from 25 to 40 feet. Once again, Deere marketing reps see this product appealing to smaller producers or those who want smaller equipment to deal with isolated problem areas.
LS11 sprayers come with 250- or 300-gallon (U.S.) product tanks, along with hydraulic or PTO-driven pumps. Single-nozzle bodies are standard on the boom, although the 40-foot version can be ordered with triples.
Without doubt, however, the centrepieces of this launch season are the new S700 Series combines, which explains why Deere decided to hold the event at its Moline Harvester Works facility.
“We have some exciting new innovations in crop harvesting,” said Randy Sergesketter, senior VP for Global Crop Harvesting. “Over the years I’ve seen a lot of exciting product launches, but I’ve not seen anything as exciting as what we’re bringing for 2018.”
Replacing the S600 Series that debuted in 2012, the four S700 models focus on pushing the technology level higher. That means most of the improvements are hidden within a machine that looks pretty similar to the previous series, with the notable exception of an updated cab.
At the heart of all that “smart” technology is the Combine Advisor system, which encompasses seven separate features.
Some of these technological features are carried over from the S600 with upgrades, but others are completely new.
“The S700 combine performance package is called Combine Advisor,” Sergesketter said. “Our internal tests have shown savings of $5 to $15 per acre with the use of Combine Advisor alone.”
The systems within Combine Advisor make it easier for inexperienced operators to make initial settings and monitor combine performance.
The ActiveVision cameras mounted on the clean grain and tailings elevators are a big part of that. Because they allow the operator to use the in-cab monitor to see real-time grain images, adjustments based on the quality of threshed grain can be made quickly from the cab on the go.
On top of that, the combine’s Auto Maintain function can take over responsibility for keeping the combine settings correct throughout the day. The system can analyse those same ActiveVison images and mate that information with data from several sensors, allowing it to automatically detect the need for setting changes in any of five different threshing systems. It will then make the necessary adjustments on its own.
That keeps the machine working to the same performance level even when field and crop conditions change through the day.
“These (systems) will enable our producers to improve grain quality, reduce losses and improve the quality of harvest data,” Sergesketter said. “(It) will provide small- and coarse-grains producers with an easy-to-set combine that will enable the automation of machine settings, resulting in greater harvesting performance.”
Two new corn headers and the 700D Series of redesigned rigid-frame draper headers are also new for 2018.