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Future developments The farms provide valuable practical experience of the industry and Helmut added that, for the future, maximising productivity of powerful tractors is a priority, including developing new methods of getting power to the ground. Cathrina believes efficiently managed large-scale machinery is the best means of improving farm productivity. “Our experience is that a large machine, capable of completing the operation quickly is usually far more efficient, requiring less operator time and it can be quickly moved to the next field to work there. Nevertheless it is worthwhile looking into different technologies like driverless machines or swarm robotics. But this only makes sense, if it offers clear economic advantages and solutions to practical challenges like how to get them on and off the field or what to do if there’s a technical problem. Safety also is a big issue, but the most important precondition is the business logic behind it. Therefore we must remain close to the farmers and

their challenges to judge whether a specific application solves problems better or not.”

Efficient data use essential Claas is heavily involved in developing practical farm management software and Cathrina is enthusiastic about its potential. A daughter company, 365FarmNet, aims to combine the best features of all systems and Cathrina said the intention is for it to become a completely open platform. “Devices optimising machine capacity will be key to improving productivity, including machine-to-machine communication. For 2018 we will start unlocking the software to work with other systems including Trimble automatic steering, for example. This means whatever the brand of tractor or its age, it can join the linked fleet. “It’s better to team up and encourage partnerships,” she continued. “365FarmNet is actually a data exchange platform allowing users to integrate and work on data. Using one cloud-based data management platform compatible with all other systems will benefit users everywhere.” Various modules and apps can be added, including dedicated livestock management programs. “A farm isn’t just a collection of fields where something happens,” she emphasised. “Only thinking about machinery is the wrong approach. We need to integrate all types and sources of data to optimise the operation. Potential benefits range from making sure a contractor goes to the correct field, to improving crop health management. We already have a successful agreement with Agrovista to provide agronomy advice to Claas customers using the Claas Crop Sensor, and we are working with Farmplan too. We 05R17B

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Claas is adaptable So what sets Claas apart from other agricultural manufacturing businesses? Cathrina said she feels the company is big enough to matter, but small enough to care, while its success and operating sectors bring challenges. “We are a family company, but our main competition is from global

brands,” she said. “We produce farm technologies which match or exceed performance of machines from these bigger brands. Most of our customers are families and we speak their language.” The subject of Brexit was raised during the conversation and Cathrina was asked how it is likely to affect Claas; with its headquarters in Germany and the significant UK division. She responded that it is hard to plan for the future until the mist has cleared, but she is convinced Claas is flexible enough to do whatever is needed to maintain the successful UK business. ■

Helmut was impressed by the farm’s oilseed rape crop, which had got off to an excellent start this year.


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Helmut was asked if he had any regrets regarding machinery developments that didn’t get as far as being offered for sale. He pointed out firmly that the Claas Apollo grass dryer, developed in the 1970s, did everything hoped of it during development. It dried and pelleted large amounts of grass quickly; a useful tool for UK farmers. “But it was 8m long and 3m diameter and had a big engine, a large heater and consumed large quantities of diesel,” he added. “While we were completing development oil prices rose dramatically and its operating costs became hard to justify, so we never brought it fully to market. Oil prices continued rising so it’s a decision we definitely got right at that time.”

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Farmers Guide May 2017  

Farmers Guide Magazine May 2017 Issue

Farmers Guide May 2017  

Farmers Guide Magazine May 2017 Issue