AGCO’s sturdy Fendt Ideal combine has arrived at the right time to help farmers harvesting through weather challenges, more acres and multiple crop-types.
Developed from the ground up beginning in the early 2010s, Fendt Ideal combines were unveiled in 2017, made available for limited demonstrations in 2018, and used for widespread demos in 2019.
Several of the Fendt Ideal combines harvested in the Butler Ag Equipment business region during 2019, said Trevor Moch, Fendt product specialist, from Mandan, N.D. He oversees Fendt demos and sales exclusively for Butler Ag. The company has dealerships in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
Moch said Butler staff tested the Ideal in corn and wheat in western North Dakota during 2018, but his first real experience was in 2019 running a class 8 Ideal 8 during wheat harvest on farms near the Butler store in Hoople, N.D.
The Butler team completed three days of wheat harvest before it started raining. It was a tough situation with heavy rain creating quality issues.
Their next experience with the Fendt Ideal combine was in mid-September during edible bean harvest – a more positive experience. Farmers near Hoople used an Ideal 8 to straight-cut navy, pinto and black beans, and the combine put up clean, high quality samples.
“We had salesmen and customers running the combine,” Moch said. “They found it to be a really easy combine to run – easy to set.”
The Fendt combine is automated for easier operations, optimized performance and best possible grain quality. Sensors inside the combine track crop flow and automatically adjust the combine settings to the operator’s pre-set harvesting parameters. This can help as crop conditions change throughout the day. A touch-screen tablet is used to set the preferences for minimizing grain damage, loss and material other than grain (MOG) in the bin, according to AGCO materials.
The threshing system defines this combine. Ideal class 8 and class 9 combines are equipped with a dual helix processor that is 24 inches in diameter and nearly 16 feet long. This allows material to generate a huge centrifugal force at a much lower speed. The material stays in the rotor longer. Edible bean crops and other specialty crops benefit from the gentle separation. The class 7 is equipped with a single helix processor rotor.
Moch added that the new combine handled green kochia growing in the dried edible beans without plugging.
With harvest delays due to rain and snow, Moch and the Butler team switched from the Ideal 8 to a class 9 track combine (9T) for harvesting soybeans in North Dakota. It was already mid-October.
They used a 45-foot draper header on the Ideal 9T combine, which has a MAN 15.2L engine, 647 hp, and a 485-bushel grain tank.
“We had really good luck with the combine,” he said. “The beans were good and clean and standing well. We harvested in some nice fields, but even as we got into some of the wet areas – with the tracks we just really had no problems getting around in the field.”
The Ideal is primarily built in Breganze, Italy, but some of the assembly takes place in Hesston, Kan. In addition, the track system was developed in Jackson, Minn. Three trackwidths are available: 26-, 30-, and 36-inch. Moch said the Ideal features a very tall track with large drive and idler wheels for less rolling resistance – it takes less power. The track also has a center pivot construction with a suspension cylinder in front. That gives a 10 degree downward, 15 degree up pivot inside the track. This makes for a smooth ride, and when the track gets into mud, it can shed some mud too.
Moch also ran the class 8 wheeled combine during corn harvest in Nebraska.
“We were in 250-bushel corn and running a 12-row, 30-inch head, and we did really well,” he said. “Capacity was good – it was pretty easy to set the combine to get a decent sample.”
They harvested 16-18 acres per hour, he said, adding that 23-25 acres per hour would be the top harvest speed for the class 9 combine. Soybeans were combined at about 5.5 mph or about 30 acres per hour.
Then the 9T combine was brought to farms near Hankinson, N.D. Conditions were tough with corn that had trouble reaching maturity and dry down. A lot of the corn was in the 21-25 percent moisture range.
“It was hard to pick clean, and we struggled with that a bit. It’s just that kind of a year, but we ended up getting the sample cleaned up, and the capacity was really good with it,” he said, adding that the Ideal “hopper” holds 485 bushels of corn and augers out in about 88 seconds.
The Ideal is built with a straight-forward approach that provides efficient distribution of power. One gearbox attaches directly to the engine to drive the processor, cleaning system, hydraulic pumps and header.
The combine uses fewer belts than other combines. Wet clutches ensure smooth engagement of power to reduce wear and tear and maintenance on components and less strain on belts.
Residue management was another practice mentioned by customers, he said. As headers get wider, there is more material to spread out the back.
The Ideal’s ActiveSpread system (using just 3-5 hp) on the tailboard has dual spinners and eight deflectors that can be adjusted from the cab monitor to match crop, field and wind conditions to spread material out the back at a width that matches the full width of the combine head, according to AGCO.
Using the wind compensation setting, the Ideal automatically flips the tailboard settings at the end of the field.
Corn farmers will still use chopping corn heads to manage residue, as well.
Four cameras provide a 360 degree view around the combine, as well as a backup camera for safety.
Customers especially liked the heated and cooled leather captain’s chair. An active cab suspension system is standard in all Ideal combines, and the track ride system offers operator comfort.
“We like to offer the best seat and ride we can,” Moch said. “You’re spending a lot of time in that combine, you might as well be comfortable.”