Preventing the Black Layer

The lack of air circulation in the soil reduces oxygen, which can be very detrimental to the soil profile and consequently affect negatively the turf health.

The black layer is often a symptom of anaerobic soil conditions, usually appearing in high sand content soil, and just as the name implies, it is a horizontal black stratum formed in rootzone at a depth of 1.3 to 10 cm. It causes a reduction in several elements that are essential to the survival of plants. The colour black is the result of a reduction of iron, and the hydrogen sulphide that occurs on the black layer is responsible for an unpleasant smell that helps on the identification of the problem.

There are several factors that may result in the lack of oxygen and poor infiltration rate in the soil such as compaction, excessive organic content layer, excessive sulphur and high sodium additions or any layering that occurs in the rootzone that impedes water movement. Problems characterized as abiotic are not caused by living organisms, but by other factors such as edaphoclimatic conditions, intensity of traffic, inadequate use of chemicals and improper use of the maintenance machinery.

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When the soil becomes anaerobic the solubility and chemistries of the nutrients modifies, certain elements are more available for the plant and others become toxic. The lack of O2 promotes the development of anaerobic microorganisms that produce metabolites that can be unfavourable to the development of the plants, such as sulphide (H2S) and iron sulphide (FeS). The black layer may become most evident during prolonged periods of hot humid weather and usually algae is also observed in conjunction with the layer, aggravating the surface sealing that may occur.

The lack of oxygen in the rootzone causes the reduction of the capacity of absorption of nutrients and water causing severe root decline, weakening the plant and diminishing its resistance to disease, wear, heat and cold tolerance.

To prevent Black Layer, it is important to apply topdressing material with similar physical characteristics to the existing on the rootzone and to use only slow release fertilizers or to fertilize lightly and frequently, but the best way to manage the black layer is preventing anaerobic conditions by improving water drainage and coring. The SubAir system is a good option to prevent the problem as it is designed to improve aeration, providing fresh air direct to plant roots and stimulating microbial activity. Also, it stabilises water delivery to the root system and removes harmful gases such as Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Hydrogen Sulphide.

On test: Can-Am Traxter HD8 buggy

© Jonathan Page© Jonathan Page

Diesel might be the current fuel of choice for farm buggies, but there’s a new wave of petrol-powered machines looking to reverse that trend. To find out which colour of fuel is best, we put a few key players to the test.

First up was Can-Am’s Traxter HD8 DPS. It was at ease with almost everything we asked of it and has the sort of versatility you’d expect from a buggy.

See also: 4 new technologies on the way for livestock farmers

See also: Video: Petrol or diesel UTVs: which are best?

Can-Am Traxter HD8 DPS

Quick verdict

The powerful petrol engine has all the day-to-day grunt you would need and delivers it to the ground far more smoothly than the Polaris. Build quality and cab layout were good too, but it lost marks for being a bit skittish on the downhill route with a trailer in tow. Still, it’s the one we would buy.

Price as tested: £12,119

Best for: Performance and comfort

Worst for: Downhill engine braking

Running gear

The HD8 is the mid-ranking buggy in the Can-Am UTV range, but provides more-than-ample power. It carries a Rotax 779cc engine generating 50hp and has the full off-road spec list, including a low-range box and a locking rear differential. For those who want a bit more, Can-Am also offers the 72hp HD10.

The engine is pretty peachy by farm buggy standards, though a slight downside is the in-cab noise at full chat. That said, it’s nowhere near as deafening as the Honda.

The notchy gear selector stalk is clear and well designed – unlike the Polaris – and, once engaged, delivers power to the CVT transmission in typically smeary but brisk fashion.

Likes

  • Strong build quality
  • Comfortable and well-laid-out cab
  • Good load bed height
  • Excellent petrol engine

Gripes

  • Engine braking almost non-existent
  • Lights easily damaged
  • No diesel options
  • Noisy acceleration

In our timed hill climb routes, the Can-Am came out top dog on grass, but was pipped to the post by the more powerful Polaris on the tarmac.

In reality, the difference in times is irrelevant and all the drivers preferred the safer-feeling ride of the Traxter to the slightly out-of-control Ranger.

Towing up the hill with a trailer on and two chaps in the front added a barely noticeable three seconds to the unladen time, which isn’t far shy of pickup standards.

Cab

Access to the spacious and well-laid-out cab is good.

The wide openings allow even the biggest work boots to gain entry without stumbling, though the flappy net guards on our test model were pointless and caused a trip hazard.

We would favour solid doors, or nothing at all.

Sat in the driver’s seat gives a good view to all four corners of the vehicle and there’s enough space to rest a left foot on long journeys, unlike the compact Gator.

By buggy standards it’s surprisingly comfortable and the two passengers also have lots of legroom and a solid bar to hang onto around the bends.

An abundance of useful cubby holes to store farming paraphernalia wins it more brownie points, while a handy removable glovebox could house some go-to tools or medicines that need to stay dry.

The build quality was another feather in the Traxter’s cap. It’s solid, all the switches worked as they should and the flat floor can be pressure washed out without worrying about ruining the electrics.

One of the biggest perks was the two passenger seats that can be flipped up to offer an unobstructed floor-to-ceiling space capable of swallowing an assortment of dogs or multiple buckets of feed.

Can Am buggy interior view

© Jonathan Page

Working life

Going slowly down hills wasn’t part of the Traxter’s A-game. The engine did an average job of slowing the buggy on some steep descents without a load on the back, but it had a tendency to run away before reaching the bottom.

However, with a bale-filled trailer hooked on the tow ball its performance was far worse – particularly when compared with the ice-cool Gator. It simply couldn’t keep the engine speed under control for a sustained spell and could turn out to be quite dangerous if it has to negotiate lots of hills.

Elsewhere, the good-sized load bed offered a handy 840mm load height. With the Honda’s bed sitting a whole 100mm higher, lifting 20-litre chemical cans is relatively easy, but it was still bettered by the John Deere. Handily there are no bars to obscure connecting a trailer, though.

Access to the engine for servicing was as good with the load bed tipped. On the down side, the rear lights are woefully exposed on the Traxter and would only need a slight bump before new clusters are needed.

Can Am buggy rear view

© Jonathan Page

Can-Am Traxter HD8 DPS full specs

  • Engine Rotax 779cc V-twin
  • Power 50hp
  • Fuel Petrol
  • Transmission Two-speed CVT
  • Four-wheel drive Selectable two- and four-wheel drive
  • Diff lock Lockable rear and auto locking front
  • Suspension Dual A-arm, 254mm travel
  • Brakes  Four-wheel hydraulic discs
  • Rear bed dimensions  97.8 x 143 x 29.5cm*
  • Rear bed capacity 454kg
  • Rear load height 840mm
  • Towing capacity 907.2kg
  • Ground clearance 280mm
  • Dry weight 646.4kg
  • Turning circle 7.72m
  • Noise, tickover 65.5dBa
  • Noise, acceleration 90.5dBa
  • Downhill loaded grass (60m, 17.5deg slope) 22.9s
  • Uphill loaded grass (60m, 25deg slope) 10.9s
  • Uphill loaded road (1-mile, 7.4deg slope) 1m 38s
  • Tyres Maxxis Bighorn
  • Starting price £12,119

Original Article Farmers Weekly

Auto pilot: What operators want from automation

Auto pilot: What operators want from automation

 

Automation technology is advancing, but what features do customers actually want? In this article Volvo CE’s Tina Lefebvre, Global Director Connected Services and Koen Sips, VP Customer Solutions, highlight how automated services are making every operator the world’s best.

We talk about ‘automation’ as if it’s a new thing, but when it comes to constrution equipment the progression of automating processes has been going on for years. The automatic gearbox and climate control are just two examples, relieving us of the responsibilities of changing gear or turning the heating up and down. What is now different is that, thanks to advanced technology, the level of operator assistance is set to transform the overall productivity of machines.
Application-specific solutions

As well as improving the machines themselves, such as more efficient combustion engines or hydraulic systems, a new level of technology is focusing on how efficiently a machine is working in a particular job site. For example, with the latest excavator digging machine control systems – such as Volvo’s Dig Assist – the operator doesn’t need to step out of the machine in order to take measurements – because the system will have calculated exactly what material has been taken, from where, and what the levels are. This represents savings in time, money and improved safety.

Semi-autonomy
It’s not just measurement. The next level of assistance is semi-autonomous functions, where the machine actually helps the operator with the task in hand. Staying with the digging example, these systems automatically create a certain level or grade, or preventing digging too deep or raising the boom too high. The machine is basically helping the operator to be at the exact right spot or the exact right depth of digging the hole or trench.
Automated data mining
Even that level of sophistication isn’t the whole automation story. There is another level – where machines ‘talk’ to each other, thereby boosting total site productivity. Machine telematics relay large amounts of data – so much so that it can be overwhelming. What is developing now are active monitoring services that automatically – thanks to the business logic’s algorithms – highlight problems, triggering the sending out of technicians with a detailed diagnosis of a problem and the tools and equipment to remedy it – all with no unplanned downtime. One example of this type of tool is the ActiveCare uptime service, where Volvo and its dealers partner up to detect at a very early stage health problems of the machine and proactively solve those.
Application super-highway
Speaking only for Volvo CE, our Co-pilot platform has been deliberately designed to be a semi-open system. It’s early days, but other people can develop applications that run on Co-pilot. These can be customer-specific, site-specific or application-specific solutions. While it’s limited only by imagination, we do need to introduce these in a controlled way. We are happy to provide the technical highway for others to drive their own solutions on.
New business models
As with technology-driven changes in wider society – such as online music streaming – automation offers the potential for new business models to emerge. Machine control and monitoring systems could in the future be subscription-based or pay-as-you-use. This will provide benefits for both customers and manufacturers. The business model and best way to market these new services is something we are still learning.
Balancing the viable with the possible
Automation for its own sake isn’t viable – it needs to add commercial value for customers and operators. That’s our challenge now – we have all these amazing technologies but the market needs to realize the potential of the technology. We need to be careful – investments are high, and volumes are relatively low. As a result, automation in the construction industry can only move as fast as the correlation between development costs, productivity gains and affordability allow.
The path to greater autonomy
In most cases there is unlikely to be a one-step jump into fully autonomous machines – the journey towards it will come in stages. Most probably there will be a number of (largely repetitive) applications that can be done fully autonomously, while others remain semi-autonomous for the foreseeable future – helping operators avoid mistakes or become more efficient.
The future of the operator: discuss
Operators are around for a long time yet. The role of automation will be to remove repetitive tasks and allow operators to do a better job. Far from deskilling them, automation allows operators to upskill, increase quality and efficiency – and making every operator into the best operator possible.
Conclusion
The advance of automation is inevitable – but is not without its challenges. It involves introducing modern technologies into an industry where working practices have not changed much in half a century. It will involve a mind shift for all concerned.

ISEKI UK LAUNCH MOWER WITH STAGE V IN MIND

Iseki UK & Ireland this week staged a launch of an out-front mower featuring a new Stage V compliant 22.5hp diesel engine.

 

Speaking to the trade press at a special event on Tuesday (June 18th), the company said they believe that with new features and market positioning, they see this new launch as a potential game changer for the brand to explore further avenues.

 

Iseki UK & Ireland md David Withers with the new SF224

Managing director, David Withers explained, “With the engine regulations coming into place shortly we wanted to offer the customer a competitively priced out-front mower with the same Iseki quality and reliability alongside a new Stage V compliant 22.5hp diesel engine.“The new SF224 mower offers the most economical way to cut grass commercially with high productivity plus the added benefit of the new 22.5hp engine enabling customers to save on fuel costs and initial purchasing costs of their machinery.”David continued, “Offering a range of decks to suit the various customer sites and cutting cycles, customers can choose from the Wessex, Iseki and Muthing flail decks, or the new Iseki out-front rotary deck. These options allow the machine to be highly versatile in this competitive market.The new Iseki 60” out-front rotary deck features three blades. The cutting height can be adjusted from 25mm to 125mm in 12.5mm increments as required. A mulching kit is also available to order.

 

The company were also keen to stress the storage capabilities which the new machine offers users. Product manager, Richard Tyrrell said, “When developing the product we studied how people use their mowers, quickly realising storage was a key issue when out cutting for long periods of time.”People were either bringing trailers with them, another vehicle, additional members of staff or tying containers onto the machines in order to carry strimmers, bin bags and other tools. With the SF224 operators can be more effective and productive with their time, taking all the equipment with them in the large storage bed on the back of the mower.”The mowers are equipped with two-pedal hydrostatic transmission and automatic or selectable 4WD. There is also a lockable differential for use when conditions demand. To ensure efficient engine cooling the radiator is fitted with an automatic reversing fan, so preventing the blockage of the grill

Original article from Service Dealer

McConnel launch new Robocut range

McConnel launch new Robocut range

McConnel has a firm reputation for blazing trails with quality, innovation and technology. Now the company is introducing the ultimate in remote controlled machinery with the next generation ROBOCUT range being launched at Saltex.

Designed for the most challenging conditions, the all-terrain capability of the all new ROBOCUT is superior on every level. The range comprises two new models, ROBOCUT RC56 and RC75 which surpass all expectations with an exciting new ground up design which incorporates the very latest advancements in technology. The new models boast more power, an advanced feature set and a revolutionary control system for greater output, safety and control.

ROBOCUT power comes in the form of two new engine choices, 56hp and 75hp, which have been developed in a partnership with Hatz GmbH specifically for working on steep gradients of 55 degrees. New engines provide up to 75% increase in power resulting in market leading power-to-weight ratio. Fuel efficiency has also increased by 20%, coupled with 100% increase in fuel capacity enabling up to eight hours of operation between refills.

A new common chassis design provides a lower centre of gravity and perfect 50/50 weight distribution for maximum stability and control in challenging terrain. Fully integrated, dual roll-over protection bars, quick access lifting points and dedicated accessory mounting points also come as standard.

The new feature set includes, a programmable attachment floatation system, StaySafe flailhead hood control for highway mowing, On-machine Activation digital display for customisation of machine settings, Keyless start technology for improved safety, Daytime running lighting to aid visual orientation at distance, high intensity LED work lights and four integrated LED strobe lights with pre-set ECE compliant sequences.

The new remote control unit features informative, high visibility digital display providing valuable feedback to the operator including machine engine RPM, engine temperature and signal strength. ROBOCUT’s new ROBO-READY battery dock simultaneously stores and charges one of the two remote control battery packs for quick and convenient change over in field for reduced downtime.

The introduction of fully enclosed body panels protect the power unit from damage when working in harsh environments whilst also keeping out grass and debris. The stylised design also incorporates gull-wing style side panels that provided quick and easy access to engine bay.

For the first time GPS Autosteer will be available, developed in conjunction with Trimble, a world leader in a wide range of positioning technologies. GPS Autosteer enables operators to control precise cutting to an accuracy of 25mm from up to 150 metres away, eliminating wasteful overlap with each pass, dramatically increasing productivity.

The new power plants enable wider 1.6m and 1.9m flailheads to be fitted to ROBOCUT for greater output. The popular 1.3m Grass, Forestry and Mulcher flailheads remain available within the extensive attachment line-up.

Retail Price: ROBOCUT RC56 power unit from £46,000

Retail Price: ROBOCUT RC75 power unit from £54,000

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