Purpose-made swathers are coming to the fore.
But the French grassland and cultivation specialist Kuhn has recently introduced a new concept that moves away from this format.
The Merge Maxx 950 uses individual tine-based pick-ups, which in turn feed onto belt conveyors to form the required swath, in a choice of eight delivery options.
A substantial central frame and heavy duty rear wheel and tyre equipment carry the two raking and conveyor elements.
The pick-ups have five tine bars controlled by a cam system for clean raking, and a wind guard and roller layout for accurate clearing. Pick up height is controlled by steplessly adjustable skids under each unit, working with a spring suspension system.
The crop is lifted by the pick-up, from where the material is fed onto the belt conveyors. These gently handle the crop and place it into a windrow. The format is said to be ‘gentler’ than tine-based layouts that move crop across the ground. It reduces the risk of seed head loss, leaf shatter and soil contamination.
Dependent on the crop, terrain and, of course, the following machine, the Merge Maxx can be set for centre or side delivery. The former offers an 8.2 to 9.5m clearing width and delivers a swath up to 2.5m wide. Side delivery can clear 8.8m and finished swathes are 1-1.5m.
For clearing larger areas, either for high power harvesters or when raking in light crop conditions, swathes can be lifted two, three or four times to maximise volume. Importantly, this reduces the following passes of subsequent machines and haulage crews, so saving fuel, tyres, wear and tear and ‘wheelings’ in the paddock.
A self-contained hydraulic system eliminates the possibility of cross contamination from different tractors. The speeds of the pick-up and conveyor assemblies can be adjusted steplessly to suit crop conditions or operating speeds.
In operation, the Merge Maxx is said to travel 2-3km/h faster than typical tine-based machines. This means it can stay ahead of the largest harvesters.
Operation is said to be simple, using a push-button control box to change functions such as tine or belt speeds, belt directions and headland lift and lower sequences.