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Equipment innovations transform farming tactics

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This Speedrower from New Holland Agriculture features a 16-foot head.
This Speedrower from New Holland Agriculture features a 16-foot head. - (Photo / )

To get an idea of how much New Holland Agriculture is revolutionizing farming, consider that its newest windrower increased its top speed by 33 percent.

That means a farmer spends less time getting around the farm and more time cutting and baling. The New Holland self-propelled Speedrower increased its top speed to 24 mph from 18 mph, tops in the industry, said Seth Doman, brand marketing manager for hay and forage crop preparation products.

"That's important," he said. "Since you're able to cut sooner, the way the alfalfa crop can dry down, maybe the sun gets to it quicker. ... Then you can bale it and you have a higher quality of hay."

The Speedrower is one of six New Holland products that were recently honored with AE50 Awards by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. The Lancaster County company began in 1895 when Abe Zimmerman opened an equipment repair shop in New Holland.

The AE50 awards are presented for the 50 most innovative product ideas to enter the market in 2013. They honor new product ideas that are ranked "highest in innovation, significant engineering advancement, and impact on the market served," according to a news release.

"These awards are a testament to New Holland's continuing commitment to launch new equipment with smart innovations to help growers become more efficient and more profitable," said Abe Hughes, New Holland's vice president of North America.

Long testing process

New Holland devotes extensive resources to research and development, Doman said. Thousands of hours go into the design, engineering, testing and manufacturing of a new piece of equipment.

"That process is very, very extensive," he said. "You're looking to develop a product and it has to fit many different markets across the country and, in some cases, across the world."

New Holland was also honored for its Roll-Belt baler, Discbine mower-conditioner, Opti-Speed and SmartTrak combines, and Ecoblue exhaust gas after-treatment system.

Doman, who also worked on the Discbine marketing, said more than 5,000 hours went into just the test portion of that product. They key is to develop a product that meets a need across geographical boundaries, Doman said, and makes financial sense to mass produce.

The end goal is making the farmer more efficient.

"Farmers are always worried about how quickly and in the right time can they get things done," Doman said. "Because Mother Nature is almost always against us. There's never enough hours in the day to get things done."

And being more efficient doesn't always mean being faster. For example, the Speedrower employs IntelliSteer auto-guidance technology. In short, it means the equipment steers itself, with help from GPS and satellite technology.

"An operator can basically set up his field and he can click a button on the control handle and the machine steers itself down the field cutting the crop up to 16 mph," Doman explained.

'Time is money'

Mark O'Neill, media and strategic communications director for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said the trend toward more-efficient farming opens the door for technological advances like those perfected by New Holland.

"When it comes time to get the crop out of the ground and go to wherever it's going next, time is money," he said. "It used to be someone had several acres of corn and it would take weeks and weeks and weeks. Now it can be done in days in some cases."

Being more efficient means more than just saving the farmer time. The faster crops can be "conditioned," or dried out, the more nutrients are retained. That means a better-quality hay is fed to the animals, which makes for healthier meat.

The new technology is also good for the environment, O'Neill noted. More precise application equipment makes sure that no fertilizer is wasted, saving money while protecting the environment as much as possible.

Likewise, the New Holland Ecoblue Selective Catalytic Reduction technology takes 100 percent cool, clean air directly into the engine.

One of the principal benefits of SCR technology is that it does not place any additional demands on the cooling package, which means that zero power is diverted to cool the exhaust gas. The engine's power is only used for the machines' principal "working" functions, improving productivity.

Over the past decade, New Holland has been recognized with 40 AE50 Awards for advanced technological innovations in products ranging from combines to tractors to hay tools. But the work doesn't stop because New Holland wins awards, Doman said.

"It's a multiple-year project," he said. "We're looking at how things are going this year, but also keeping an eye on what things are needed years from now."

New Holland history

The original New Holland Machine Co. was founded in 1895 in New Holland, Lancaster County. It was acquired by Sperry Corp. in the 1970s, by Ford Motor Co. in 1986 and by Fiat in 1991.

Today, New Holland is a brand of CNH Industrial Group, the product of a September merger between CNH Global and Fiat Industrial. Company headquarters are in Turin, Italy. The company

trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the CNHI symbol and reported 2013 earnings of $25.8 billion.

More than 1,000 New Holland dealers throughout the United States and Canada provide sales, parts and service. Worldwide, more than 3,000 New Holland dealers serve customers in 160 countries.

Its full product line includes tractors, combine harvesters, balers, forage harvesters, self-propelled sprayers, haying tools, seeding equipment, hobby tractors, utility vehicles and implements, as well as grape harvesters.

A few key dates in New Holland's 119-year history:

1895: Abe Zimmerman started an equipment repair shop in New Holland. He later started producing agricultural equipment.

1918: Future owner Fiat introduces its first farm tractor, the Model 702, which went into full production a year later in Turin.

1939: Future owner Ford introduces the three-point hitch on its N Series tractor, one of the biggest-selling tractor models ever.

1947: New Holland made a major breakthrough in hay harvesting technology with its haybine mower-conditioner.

1974: Sperry New Holland introduced the world's first twin-rotor combine.

2001: New Holland introduces its CX combine, which soon becomes the company's flagship model.

2008: The company's latest rotary combine model, the CR9090 Elevation, is launched and sets a world record for combine harvesting recognized by the Guinness World Records. The record is 551.6 tons of wheat harvested in eight hours.

Source: New Holland Agriculture, CNH Industrial Group

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