A NORTH VICTORIAN farming operation has become the first in Australia to take delivery of a combine harvester that literally thinks for itself. John and Pat Kennedy, together with son, Sean, and daughter-in-law, Emma, plant about 5500 hectares of wheat, canola and corn each year on owned and leased property based around “Maple Park” at Corop, 50 km south of Echuca, Victoria, and at Goolgowi in southern NSW.

Last year, the family took delivery of a CLAAS LEXION 760 equipped with TERRA TRAC tracked assembly and the revolutionary CLAAS Electronic Machine Optimisation System (CEMOS).This award-winning system continuously monitors and then adjusts key settings to maximise throughput, grain quality or fuel efficiency to suit prevailing crop conditions. Recognised with a prestigious Machine of the Year award at Agritechnica in 2013, CEMOS AUTOMATIC is available as an option on all LEXION models.

“We think this is a great idea and worth paying for,” Sean Kennedy says. “CEMOS automatically adjusts the machine so that it is always operating to its full capacity, regardless of who’s driving it. It takes over when you’re most tired – say first thing in the morning or late at night – which is exactly the same time when LEXION is able to work harder than a single rotor combine. This technology means I can put in a driver who may not be experienced with this machine and still get the best out of it. You put your settings in, you press the button and off you go. At the moment, I’m doing all the driving, but I don’t want to be doing this forever. There are other jobs I need to be doing.”

The Kennedys’ LEXION is also one of the first to be equipped with the CLAAS TELEMATICS remote monitoring system, which allows authorised personnel to view real-time operating data and the geographic location of the combine harvester. CLAAS Harvest Centre Echuca sales representative, Amos Ferguson, says this information can be used to adjust the machine’s settings to optimise its performance or harvesting efficiency.

“This might be as simple as advising the driver to change a certain setting or telling the support crew to move the location of a field or chaser bin,” he says. “At its more advanced level, TELEMATICS allows technicians to remotely diagnose potential problems and plan servicing requirements. We were able to monitor about a dozen LEXION machines operating in northern Victoria last harvest and compare their performance. The Kennedys’ machine was the only one fitted with CEMOS AUTOMATIC and it consistently recorded higher throughput than the others in similar conditions.”

The purchase of the LEXION, which is specified with 630 mm tracks set on three metre spacings, completes the Kennedys’ move into controlled traffic cropping. “Controlled traffic costs in terms of machinery but we feel the benefits far outweigh the costs,” Sean Kennedy says. “We don’t want to have gear running all over the paddocks and the tracks really take the bounce out of the job. I drove the LEXION up to Goolgowi and back and sat on 40 km/h all the way – it took nine hours but it wasn’t a bad drive.”

The LEXION is also equipped with a TURBO CHOP residue management system. “We like to harvest fairly low – about 15 cm – to create a mulch rather than burning stubble,” Sean says. “We are operating a big machine with a 40’ front and we’re moving fairly fast – about 12 km/h – but TURBO CHOP handles this high crop flow effortlessly. It throws the straw right across the operating width, rather than the patchy effect left by a radial spreader.”

All four LEXION models incorporate CLAAS’ unique HYBRID threshing technology, which combines an accelerated pre-separation (APS) threshing system and twin longitudinal rotors. Approximately 30 per cent of the threshing occurs before the crop even reaches the rotors, which means the machine can operate more efficiently and longer in all conditions.

Combined, the two technologies achieve up 20 per cent more throughput with minimal grain loss and no increase in fuel consumption. “Up front is where the capacity is – the twin rotors just finish the job,” Sean says. “This extra capacity means we have been able to cut back from running three combines to two, which is a real bonus because it’s getting more and more difficult to find good drivers. And that’s another reason why we were willing to pay for CEMOS AUTIMATIC.” An 11,000 litre grain tank and a high capacity discharge auger capable of emptying the bin in less than 90 seconds keep pace with this high throughput.

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