Oxfordshire-based Pasture Care is one of the first UK buyers of Zurn’s novel Top Cut Collect. Oliver Mark finds out how it has performed.
It might sound crude, but chopping the heads off perennial troublemakers such as blackgrass, ryegrass and brome is fast becoming the only effective way to thin out seedbanks in fields overrun with herbicide-resistant weeds. That’s the approach German maker Zurn has taken with its Top Cut Collect (TCC) – a weed harvester originally designed by French farmer and inventor Romain Bouillé.
Most buyers are likely to be contractors – such as Kevin Smith, who invested in a TCC for his Pasture Care business based in Thame, Oxfordshire, after seeing it at Lamma.
As the name suggests, the TCC is towed through a field to cut and collect any plants that stand proud of the crop, and which are so abundant that hand roguing would be near-impossible. In most cases, the aim is to run the twin reciprocating cutterbar as close to the top of the crop as the operator dares. Early trials by Niab suggest it is up to 90% efficient in the collection of blackgrass heads when employed in this way, although the timing – pre-shedding – is imperative.
Typical working speed is about 6kph, dependent on crop uniformity and weed density. “My best day so far was 150 acres [60ha], and my worst was 30 acres [12ha] in an uneven crop with a heavy yield of blackgrass,” Mr Smith says. “I charge a day rate, which means I can concentrate fully on doing a good job, rather than maximising my output.”
For many years, the biomass direct cut header PROFI CUT has proven its worth on self-propelled forage harvesters where it demonstrates a huge appetite particularly in difficult conditions
Feeding also high-yielding crops in a consistent and smooth flow into the machine, the header impressed also operators of New Holland forage harvesters. Responding to numerous enquiries from customers, the German manufacturer now offers the ZÜRN PROFI CUT direct cut header also for the ‘yellow’ FR foragers.
Thanks to the dual drive, the auger adjusts its speed automatically to the forager’s chop length setting and irrespective of the cutting disc speed.
No changes have been made to the well-proven and high-quality assemblies. For example, the two separate OptiDisc-Elite cutterbars from Kuhn are powered in perfect synch by the lateral drive and are lubricated for life.
Light pulling in various crops, the whole crop header impressed New Holland testers who experienced a massive increase in productivity over the headers they had been using up to then.
What the SEED TERMINATOR is about is reducing the amount of seeds that get put back on the ground to become weeds in the next year.
Dr. Nick Berry, the Australian inventor of the SEED TERMINATOR explains what is behind the new technology: “The multi-stage hammermill is our core technology and it’s really the aero-impact that makes it unique.”
You know, you can do a great job with chemicals for that season, but the next season you are going to have keep applying the same amount of chemistry and it’s a continuous process. What the SEED TERMINATOR does is it catches those seeds and it destroys them, makes them non-viable and next years’ problem is not as bad as this years.
The TOP CUT COLLECT weed harvester from Zürn Harvesting received the SIMA Innovation Award in the special ‘Agro-Ecological Transition’ category. The prestigious prize awarded by the innovations committee of one of the leading international farm machinery shows, underlines the innovative and forward-thinking character of this innovation for an environmentally sound agriculture.
As a joint project of the German harvest specialist Zürn and French farmer and inventor Romain Bouillé, this mechanical weed harvester presents a brand new development that combines three processes into one operation: cutting the weeds above the crop stand, collecting and carting the seed heads. As such it reduces the weed seed bank in the soil substantially and improves field hygiene.
“We are extremely happy about receiving the prize which is a special success,” says Rolf Zürn. “It reflects on the importance of mechanical weed control and the forward-thinking nature of this technology for all of Europe. The TOP CUT COLLECT is one machine in our new product line that aims at interfacing organic and conventional farming schemes. We term such developments ‘econventional solutions’,” explains Rolf Zürn.
One of these solutions is the SEED TERMINATOR which destroys weed seeds inside the combine by using multi-stage hammer mills so the weeds are no longer able to germinate. In addition to that, the vision guided hoes of our partner company Garford are ideal additions to this product line. Relying on a high-precision camera system, the Garford hoes are able to work close to and extremely accurately along the crop rows. The InRow models use intelligent software in combination with a high-tech camera for even inter-plant weeding.
He was literally engaged in many fields as a down-to-earth farmer, visionary plant breeder and ever creative machinery manufacturer entrepreneur.
Hans-Ulrich Hege did not only just inspire us, but was actively supportive. Our business on the Hohebuch estate builds on the work he did. His name is well respected in the industry across the world.
The inventions he developed together with his team were a strong contribution to the vital high-yielding plants that secure today’s food supply. In nearly every loaf of bread that is made somewhere around the world there is a little piece of Hege.
We will remember him with honour and gratitude. Our heartfelt sympathies are with his admirable wife, his children and family
On February 4, 2021, Dr. h. c. Hans-Ulrich Hege passed away at the age of 92. All the staff at Zürn Harvesting GmbH & Co KG join the Hege family in mourning the loss of this leading seed breeder and field trial pioneer who was a towering figure in German agriculture.
Hans-Ulrich Hege joined his parents' seed breeding company on the Hohebuch Estate near Schwäbisch Hall in 1954, eventually taking over the management of the company. As a seed breeder, he found himself confronted with a lack of suitable harvesters for small trial plots. So, in 1963 he developed the first plot combine for his new breeds of winter wheat varieties.
This invention profoundly revolutionised agricultural field trialling around the world, because for the first time, breeders were able to harvest their trial plots with machines without the risk of mixing varieties.
After the German reunification, the agile seed breeder became the new owner of the former East German combine manufacturer MDW Mähdrescherwerke Singwitz near Bautzen. Here he developed the legendary Arcus, a brand new type of combine harvester which was capable of harvesting up to 65 tonnes per hour, a record capacity at the time. Later on he sold the company to Case IH.
Although Hans-Ulrich Hege’s passion for plant breeding and mechanical engineering earned him international awards and recognition, he remained the down-to-earth farmer he had always been. The visionary plant breeder and mechanical engineer lived with his wife Magdalene on his Hohebuch Estate in Baden-Württemberg.
Zürn Harvesting recently expanded the production facility in Merchingen where mainly cutting platforms for commercial farming are produced.
“Central part of this expansion is an entirely new semi-automatic powder coating installation which complies with the latest environmental protection standards. With the new facility, we can process parts with an individual length of up to 14 m in one run. This is not only unique in the area but helps us to meet the high expectations for our product quality”, underlines director Rolf Zürn.
In the new surface coating facility, parts can be prepared for the coating with sandblasting and an automatic washing system. During the actual coating, powder is manually applied and the parts are then heated up in the curing oven with a product-specific temperature curve.
“Even regarding energy demand, the new facility scores: The hot process air is used to heat the factory halls via heat exchangers” says the department head Martin Filz about the environmental aspects of the new technology.
Besides cutting platforms for combines and forage harvesters, the Merchingen factory produces various header attachments and header trailers. In the last years, Zürn Harvesting also started to manufacture mechanical weeding technology in these halls. In addition to this product range, the Merchingen factory also supplies welded assemblies for the field research technology factory in Hohebuch.
For an optimal capacity utilisation throughout the year, the new facility also provides services for third parties.
Especially intensive farming can lead to weeds developing resistances against herbicides. Common methods are no longer effective and many chemicals lost their acceptance in society.
With this background, Zürn Harvesting and French farmer and technician Romain Bouillé developed an entirely new approach for mechanical weed control. The weed collector TOP CUT collect is an intelligent combination of two tasks: Cutting the weed tops above the crops and collecting this material which contains the weed seeds. Hygiene in the field is improved sustainably by reducing the weed seed bank in the soil.
“Different scientific studies show that up to 40 % of the weed seeds are shedding before harvest. It’s therefore very effective to cut off and collect the top of these weeds before harvest. By doing this, the cycle of weeds getting into the seed bank is interrupted” says Zürn Harvesting managing director Rolf Zürn about the perennial field trials in France.
When cutting the grass weeds in their generative growth, the remaining plants are drying and not getting any new shoots. This is beneficial for harvest with a combine in heavy weed patches. This new approach is also a great opportunity for organic farms to extend their mechanical weeding toolbox.
The TOP CUT collect is especially strong when fighting resistant grass weeds like black grass, apera, wild oat or ryegrass. Furthermore, it can be a game changer in root crops which take some time to close the “canopy”.
Die direkte Ernte von Biomasse mit dem selbstfahrenden Feldhäcksler hat sich gerade zur Energiegewinnung in Biogasanalgen etabliert. Besondere Herausforderungen an die Technik stellen hier neue Pflanzen und Pflanzenmischungen mit hohem Massenaufwuchs.
Der erfolgreiche Einsatz gerade bei der Ernte in der Königsdisziplin der „durchwachsenen Silphie“ beeindruckte auch die zahlreichen Häckslerfahrer der weit verbreiteten Baureihe Claas Jaguar. Aufgrund zahlreicher Kundenanfragen stellt nun Zürn Harvesting sein PROFI CUT passend für den Häcksler Jaguar des Harsewinkeler Herstellers vor. Das PROFI CUT Schneidwerk steht in Arbeitsbreiten von 5,30 und 7,00 m nun auch für den Häcksler Jaguar zur Verfügung.
Für den perfekten Gutfluss, und damit für eine hohe Ernteleistung und Häckselqualität, sorgt die große Einzugsschnecke (ø 808 mm) mit ihren konisch auslaufenden Schneckenwindungen zusammen mit den verstellbaren Einzugspaddeln. Passend für den Jaguar wird das Schneidwerk über einen federbelasteten Pendelrahmen mit zentralem Drehpunkt angekoppelt. Das sorgt zusammen mit der Auflagedruckregelung und einer in den Anbaurahmen integrierten Schnittwinkelverstellung für eine gute Bodenanpassung.
Auch den Testfahrern mit dem Jaguar fiel die Leichtzügigkeit des Erntevorsatzes in den verschiedenen Kulturen auf. Je nach Erntesituation konnten die erfahrenen Praktiker satte Mehrleistungen gegenüber ihren bekannten Schneidwerken feststellen.
Agritechnica is about to start shortly in Hanover. The world‘s leading trade fair for agricultural machinery will be held on 10-16 November 2019. We are curious about the discussions with you and look forward to your visit in Hall 13, Stand C26.
Never before we had this many new products to be presented. Some of our existing products are improved substantially while others are newly added to our product range. Moreover, some developments are not only new for us but even for the whole industry: entirely new product categories that cannot be found in any other manufacturer‘s portfolio.
Visit us at Agritechnica and meet the passionate people from various countries of the world who are
deeply rooted in agriculture and who have worked with us to bring these products into the field.
A whole range of new products is launched by Zürn and Garford at Agritechnica 2019: Come an see our innovations in mechanical weed control, precision hoes, cutting platforms and field research technology.
The cutting platform and field research technology specialist Zürn Harvesting is taking over sales, production and service for the Australian “Seed Terminator” in Europe. The special mill technology almost entirely kills those weed seeds which come out of a combine. It was invented by the farmer and engineer Dr. Nick Berry who went in depth with this topic for many years as part of his thesis.
“With regard to increasing herbicide resistance and few new product authorisations, we need effective alternatives soon. Thus, we see a huge potential for mechanical weed control like this new concept from Australia.” says Zürn Harvesting director Rolf Zürn about the new collaboration.
The unique technology consists of two high-performance multistage hammer mills which process the residue coming from the sieves. It is now available for John Deere, Claas, Case IH and New Holland combines.
The cutting platform and field research technology specialist Zürn Harvesting has acquired a majority stake in the English hoeing technology manufacturer Garford Farm Machinery Ltd. The German family-owned company is thus expanding its product range to include the growth market of mechanical weed control and future-oriented camera-assisted machine guidance with individual plant recognition.
"In the future, we want to jointly use our experience and resources in sales, production and development to enable Garford to take further growth steps with its extensive hoeing technology programme. The increasing resistance problems with herbicides will open up new opportunities for mechanical weed control," is how Managing Director Rolf Zürn of Zürn Harvesting sums up the company's cooperation.
Further information on the products and the Garford company can be found on the website www.garford.com
Direct harvesting of biomass with the self-propelled forage harvester has been gaining increasing relevance for several years. Operators of biogas plants in particular are looking for extended crop rotations, new types of cereal and crop mixtures for energy production. In practical tests the cup plant has proven to be the supreme discipline when it comes to harvester throughput capacity and cropflow with tangled plants.
The benchmark for whole crop headers was therefore expanded to include this crop. Zürn has added a special „silphie kit“ to its harvesting technology to optimise the harvesting of cup plant: A passive roller crop press (in place of the rigid crop deflector pipe) allows the plants to glide evenly into the header. Special paddles have also been added to the intake auger in order to pull in the crop with an even higher force.
Field experience proves the high feeding capacity of the PROFI CUT in high and dense biomass crops. This applies not only to cup plant but also the harvesting of further crops, such as sorghum and tall wheatgrass (Szarvasi) or crop mixtures, e.g. vetch-rye mix.
What happens if you improve the "best header" once again? That's what the German farm machinery magazine "Profi" wanted to find out when testing the new PREMIUM FLOW 735PF in a weedy rye field. Check out the video to see the result.
“Converting the header to rapeseed [...] is almost child’s play. The massive intake auger is raised simply by operating the pump on the back of the header. You don’t even have to release the tensioner of the drive chain for that. Then you fit the [...] side knives, which may take some muscle power but not a lot of time. The crop dividers are unlocked and unhooked without any need for a tool, and the double knives simply take their place. Excellent! Better still, neither the electric nor the oil lines need coupling, because the knives are driven mechanically by a simple but ingenious overload clutch.”
Zürn rapeseed/canola side knifes are now also available for right and left hand side mounting on common Draper headers. The new side knife models are tailored to the specific cutting platforms.
Due to the proven purely mechanical drive, the side knifes convince by unmatched fast installation and removal. The slim design of the side knifes prevents unnecessary cutting losses. In addition, Zürn rapeseed/canola side knifes are running with very low vibrations, as there is no drive unit on top of the knife.
Zürn PremiumFlow headers represent the highest level of innovation and performance worldwide.
This was confirmed again by the independent Innovations Commission of Agritechnica, the world's biggest agricultural fair. They awarded Zürn for its advanced technology again a silver medal.
Zürn i-Flow is a newly developed intelligent cutting platform generation to improve performance of large combines. For the first time all rotating drives are electrified, flexible in speed and torque and communicate with each other. Field trials confirm that harvesting performance, ease of use and durability rise significantly.
"Performance starts with the header." Special focus was therefore the comparison of the Zürn PremiumFlow belt conveyor header with the John Deere standard header: "Here the PremiumFlow
has clear advantages. The supply of material is a pleasure to work with, much more relaxing. Even in dense rapeseed/canola stalks there was no need to help out with the reel. The threshing unit is noticeably more evenly fed, the feeder house is distinctly less strained."
Regarding the power demand of the PremiumFlow header the top agrar editorial team was surprised: "The header with belts required no more driving power than the normal header. In addition, the more uniform crop flow generates substantially lower torque spikes in the drive train."
During fiel trials the maintenance of the PremiumFlow only made little effort: Wenig Aufwand hatten die Tester mit der Wartung des PremiumFlow: "The seal between the belts is worthy of its name. Apart from a little dust, we did not have to clean anything from under the service guards for an entire season."
Read the full system comparison (German).