Friday, November 24, 2017

Lacotech: UK working depot for reverse-drive forager

By WniF editors

Lacotec’s LHII reverse-drive forager has been seen working publicly for the first time ever with the company’s new grass pick-up at the Grassland UK event in Somerset.

Previously the German manufacturer offered the ability to fit a range of maize headers (pictured), wholecrop cutterbars and grass pick-ups from well-known manufacturers. Moving to a custom-built unit for mown forage crops provides a more compact, integrated package and improved crop flow into the machine.

Although the forage harvester has undergone field testing in UK grass crops, this will be the first time it has been scrutinised by the public in the field. The design is well-proven in maize, and in Europe Lacotec machines are used by contractors, large scale dairies and operators of anaerobic digester plants.

Capable of matching the output of smaller self-propelled harvesters, the LHII will handle up to 500hp. Importantly, it has the big advantage that when there’s no chopping to be done it can be unhitched and the tractor can be used for other tasks.

Over recent years increasing numbers of tractors (particularly Fendts, Valtras and Claas) have been sold with reverse-drive kits. However, uses for the facility are still fairly limited, buck-raking and mowing being the most common tasks.

And, while reverse-drive foragers have been available previously, they’ve struggled to match the output of bigger trailed machines and smaller self-propelled units. Crucially they’ve lacked a corn-cracker and the ability to process maize kernels.

Now that’s set to change. Lacotec foragers are the first machines of their type to boast an integral kernel-processor.

These are high-specification harvesters. Standard features include: metal detector with adjustable sensitivity; auto-sharpening controlled from the cab with automatic shear-bar positioning and knock sensors; full auto-lubrication system; self-contained on-board hydraulics for feed-roller and header drive, enabling stepless chop-length adjustment; integral cooling pack with automatically-triggered reverse-drive fan; and Isobus compatible controls with colour-screen and joystick, if required

Development of the Lacotec’s reverse-drive units has been spurred on by demand from contractors and farmers wanting to spread the cost and increase the workload of costly prime-movers.

But it is the corn-cracker that is its most novel feature. For some years ,Lacotec has built its disc-type kernel processor for retro-fitting to self-propelled and trailed harvesters. Unlike conventional units that use pairs of rollers running at different speeds to crush the grain, this version uses inter-locking discs running at identical speeds to do the job. The key advantage of this is that the discs present a much greater surface area (270 per cent more) to the crop as it passes through with the result that the corn-cracker is no longer the bottle-neck for material running through the forager and power requirement is significantly reduced.

This concept has been adopted by Fendt in its new Katana forager and other harvester manufacturers are following suit. When it comes to crop intake the LHII can be kitted out with standard wholecrop and maize headers from the likes of John Deere, Kemper and Claas as well as Lacotec’s new grass pick-up.

Technical specifications:
Intake housing width: 560mm
Feed rollers: 4-7 depending on header, hydraulic drive
Chopping unit: 10 or 14-knife flywheel (1300mm diameter) with 10 or 14 blower paddles, reversible shear-bar
Flywheel speed: 1,000 rpm
PTO speed: 1000 rpm
Chop length: Grass – 8-36mm/Maize – 4-18mm
Kernel processor/corn-cracker: Twin shafts of 250mm interlocking discs running at identical speed; 440mm wide; minimum cracker clearance 1.15mm
Spout swivel: 360 degrees
Header options: Grass up to 3m; Maize up to 8 rows
Weight: 2,900kg
Width: 2.6m
Power rating: 200hp to 500hp
List price: £60,000 (depending on spec)

While self-propelled foragers remain a popular choice, there are a good number of smaller operators who cannot stretch to the capital outlay required for such expensive machines. While such businesses may already have larger, more powerful tractors for other work, they often have quiet times when these costly prime-movers are parked up. Adding silage harvesting to their workload is a simple means of spreading their cost.

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