Awards recognize agricultural engineering achievements

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Each year agricultural engineers recognize their own by choosing 50 of the best products or technologies that reached the marketplace during the previous year.

This year, Seed Hawk of Langbank, Sask., was the only Canadian company to make the list.

However, several items designed for the Prairies were recognized for innovation.

A panel made up of members of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers based their decisions on innovative designs and utility that the new tools bring to agriculture.

Doug Otto, ASASBE member and organizer of the annual Agricultural Technology Equipment Conference at which the Agricultural Engineering 50 awards were handed out, said the awards are important for farmers, as well as engineers.

“Recognition by your peers for achievements in developing these technologies are important… and it gives farmers a perspective, from an engineer’s point of view, what are some of the best technologies that they should be considering.

Otto, a New Holland machinery engineer, said not every product will suit every farm, but the list of winners reveals trends.


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Gleaner S8 combine | AGCO photo

Mitch Kaiser of CaseIH’s high horsepower tractor group said the awards are more than bragging rights. Case won an award for the rear-tracked Magnum Rowtrac tractor.

“Engineers aren’t easy on each other. I think they (with the AE50 program) really want to identify what will be important to agriculture, make farming more productive. That’s where it’s good for growers,” he said during an interview at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville.

Seed Hawk’s win this year is for its use of the Appareo wireless technology, which manages the new metering and management systems on the company’s latest air seeder carts and drills.

The new system stops meters from turning, independent of the runs next to it, rather than cutting off supply with gates, as in the previous Seed Hawk design, which also won an AE50 award.

“We’ve been testing the design for three years. Each one gets its own electric motor to drive the meter,” said Pat Beaujot of Seed Hawk in an earlier interview.

Replacement of the metering rollers was one feature recognized. The meter drives are removable with one hand.

Different rollers of greater or lesser capacity can be swapped into the meter housing or it can be cleaned of straw or other debris before being returned to the box and locked into place with a clockwise twist.

Meter drives are shared with parent company Väderstad’s Tempo, a high speed, precision planter.

“It’s fast to make changes on the new meters — minutes,” said Beaujot.

Meters are connected to the central data processing units by wires through snap-into-place, weatherproof connectors.

Appareo of Fargo, North Dakota, supplies the tools for data management.

After that, wi-fi takes over.

In the cab, the Seed Hawk interface box has been replaced with one or two Apple iPads.

Other winners of prairie friendly machinery this year include Deere’s 1910 air seeder cart and its new loading conveyor. Replacing the previous cart loader, despite being heavier and larger, the unit is easier and safer for producers to move through a set of hydraulics and both wireless and wired controls.

The 760CG Varifeed grain headers in its 41 foot wide version was recognized for its size, not just because of its capacity. The size is a match for 40 or 60 foot seeders and 120 foot sprayer boom widths that allow for reduced field traffic and the related compaction. The header is also suited to direct cutting of canola with a 23 inch, fore and aft cutter bar adjustment, allowing the operator to regulate crop flow from the cab.

For the second year in a row, Gleaner’s S8 transverse rotor combines, which use accelerator rolls after the concave, are AE50 winners. The win in 2015 is for a new perforated cascade pan to receive grain from the rolls at the front of the cleaning shoe. This adds about 1,000 sq. inches of air-flow managed cleaning area. The result is about a 10 percent capacity increase in damp grain conditions. The new pans will be available as a retrofit product for existing Gleaner machines.

Deere’s Active Concave Isolation on the new Deere rotary combines provides a hydraulically supported concave system that can produce more capacity in tough conditions and where large amounts of straw are present, such as prairie cereal crops, later in the season. The hydraulic management of material flow allows the space between the rotor and concave to be instantly and automatically adjusted, letting the machine spit though clots that would otherwise break shear pins or plug or damage the machine.

There are many more award winners relative to prairie agriculture and we will feature several of them in upcoming editions of The Western Producer.

You can find a complete list of AE50 winners here.

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