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Big tractors get more precise tools

From the ground, only the sticker on the hood appears different. But those few letters “AFS Connect” stand for a lot of change.

The AFS part is what Case IH has called its precision and guidance systems for years. Putting it on the cowling means that producers are getting more tools that aren’t as obvious in an upgrade.

“This was a major redesign of the cab and everything in it,” said Mitch Kaiser of Case IH.

“What matters most about this is how much easier we made all of the technology, that was mostly there before, to use,” he said.

There were some improvements to the way farmers can share data from the tractor with their dealers and the way producers can move prescription and guidance maps to their tractors.

Remote View Display allows for greater use of telemetry for tracking the machines in the field and observing performance said Kaiser.

“As a farmer you might have some staff or family that aren’t necessarily as concerned about operations as you are, or need some observation. Or you are keeping those air seeders fed with seed and fertilizer and knowing exactly how they are doing in the field helps you keep the flow of people and material going efficiently, with less downtime,” he said.

The tractors also get variable control steering, with three different response times. Operators can slow it down out in the field, speed it for headland turns, and do that automatically.

If producers opt for the AFS Connect they are getting the Power Drive transmission with an automatic productivity management software system that will keep the machine at an optimal speed under variable conditions.

“The operator can set the speed and the tractor will take care of making sure you always have the right combination of engine speed and gearing depending on the load. Hit a soft spot and it will respond accordingly to keep you rolling with the engine at its peak of performance,” he said.

“And you get the fuel efficiency out of the equipment,” he said.

Also included in the AFS Connect model is the ability to set macros for many of the controls on the armrest buttons and switches. Producers can set up to 30 activities to be executed from a single button, such a combination of activities for headlands.

“The setup for these things is much easier than it was. And once they are set, you lose any stress that operating a lot of (features) at once can bring, especially over a month of seeding or planting,” said Kaiser.

With the new transmission options there are also new clutch packs that smooth out the operations.

Both the CVT and the Power Drive get a user-run clutch pack calibration tool, rather than needing to take it to the dealer for that service. It can be done once or twice each season to maintain like-new transmission performance. The system looks at the clutch pack pressures and reads the transmission lock-up pressure and resets the machine to factory specifications.

“It might take 20 minutes to do and you have that like-new transmission response and efficiency,” he said.

On the physical side of changes that producers might notice on the new Steiger and Quadtrac machines are bigger fuel tanks. The Quadtrac 500 and 540 models go up to 470 gallons from the current 310. The Steiger 500 and 540 tractors rise from 455 gallons.

“Between that and more efficient operations from the (Power Drive and the operating software) and the bigger tanks it means less refueling, improving uptime,” he said.

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