John Deere recently rolled out the red, or should I say green, carpet for what it’s touting as its largest product launch in the company’s 174-year history. New tractors, combines with bigger corn heads and platforms, self-propelled sprayers, wireless technology and a whole lot of hay equipment were unveiled.

When the lights went up at the Indianapolis Convention Center, the 1,600 dealers ooh’ed and aah’ed like they were at a fireworks display. OK, I did, too.

Here’s a rundown on their major equipment announcements for 2012.

 

Machine Sync

In a field demo, John Deere unveiled its new Machine Sync technology that provides combine location and bin-fill status to the grain-cart operator. It then allows the combine operator to control the location of the tractor and grain cart for automated on-the-go unloading (hands-free), locks the grain cart into position and then adjusts it as needed for optimal cart filling. On their new combines, Deere says 45-50% of the time a grain cart is being filled on the go.

“Harvest is like a square dance,” explains Chris Batdorf, product marketing manager, John Deere ISG.  “You need a lot of people in the right place at the right time. And now, the music gets faster.

“The combine operator can push a button to let the grain cart know to come to unload,” he says. “Once the cart arrives in the operational zone, the driver can let go of the tractor wheel. The position and ground speed are automatic so as the combine speeds up and down, the cart syncs and travels with it.”

The virtual operational zone is about 100 x 230 ft., and if you separate from the zone, just drive close to it again and hit “resume.”

In addition, Deere’s introduced a new, first-on-the-market Machine Communication Radio, which can create an in-field, high-speed wireless network to facilitate machine-to-machine communication. It’s designed to enable up to 10 vehicles in a single network within a three-mile radius.

 

S Series Combines

The S series combines are completely new with 45% new parts, says Katie Dierker, division marketing manager at John Deere Harvester Works.

Available for the 2012 harvest season, the S-series include five models: S550, S660, S670, S680 and S690, ranging from 271 to 543 hp. The S690 is an all-new class 9 machine.

The cleaning system has been redesigned with a new cleaning shoe which delivers 33% increased capacity. The S series comes with a new variable-stream rotor that improves straw quality in rice and high-yielding small grains with tough, dense straw.

The 400-bu. grain tank (standard on the S680 and S690) is the largest factory-available tank in the industry and can unload at 3.8 bu./second. The tanks come equipped with new extension covers that fold and unfold remotely.

The Active Tailings system, standard on the S680 and S690, increases threshing and separating capacity 8-10% for improved grain and straw quality. It also has an updated Harvest Doc yield- and moisture-monitoring system.

Combine cabs got a makeover, too. The newly designed cabs sport 30% more interior space and more visibility. They also feature a heated air-suspension seat and special training seat with a foldable back rest and working surface, plus a small refrigerator underneath.

 

Corn Heads And Flex-Draper Platforms

Combines now come with the 600 series corn heads, including the company’s first 16- and 18-row heads. “Customers have been asking for larger corn heads,” says Josh Herting, product manager at John Deere Harvester Works.

The 600 series StalkMaster heads have row-unit chopping disconnects that allow the chopping feature to be disengaged on the go, as well as improved header height control which senses farther forward and on outer rows.

And if you want a flexible-draper platform, Deere introduces the new 600FD HydraFlex Draper, which is available in 35- and 40-ft. models.

“The proven HydraFlex technology, coupled with a low-profile cut height, will give produces the ground-shaved results they desire in soybeans,” Herting says.

 

R Series Tractors

New for 2012 are high-horsepower 4WD and track 9R/9RT tractors, 6R series row-crops tractors and 5 series utility and specialty tractors. The 7R and 8R series row-crop tractors have already been introduced.

The 9R and 9RT are the big guns for farmers, ranging from 360 to 560 hp and replace the 9030 series tractors introduced in 2007. They come in five models, three with tracks.

They also feature integrated technologies like Auto-Trac and JDLink, and come equipped with high-flow hydraulics and PTO options. Except the 9360R, they offer John Deere’s advanced PowerTech PSX 13.5L engine. Both the PowerTech PSX9.0L and 13.5L engines feature an in-line six-cylinder, four valves per head, cooled exhaust gas recirculation, electronic engine controls and series turbochargers.

Road transport hits 25 mph and the 9 series features the CommandViewII cab, which proclaims being 10% bigger overall with 7% more glass area and four times more storage than the previous cab. The cab also features the CommandArm fingertip controls and the new GreenStar 3 CommandCenter Display.

The 8R series comes in six wheel models and three track models. The wheel models range from 225 to 345 hp; the track models range from 235 to 275 PTO hp. This series was introduced in 2009. 

Five new-from-the-ground-up 7R series tractors (7200R, 7215R, 7230R, 7260R and 7280R) have increased horsepower and now range from 200 to 280 hp. They feature Infinitely Variable (IVT) and Command Quad transmissions, ideal for tillage and planting, says Jarrod McGinns, marketing manager for the 7 family tractors. All in the series come with new interim tier 4 EGR PowerTech engines. The 7 series is available at dealers now.

Both the 7R and 8R series offer front hitch and front PTO features.

For 2012, the new 6R series, which replaces the JD 7430 Premium and 7530 Premium models, includes three new models: the 6170R with 170 hp, 6190R with 190 hp and the 6210R with 210 hp. “We’ve increased hitch-lift capacity, hydraulic-flow rate by 41%, added a type 3 drawbar and type 3 rear PTO and made the cab 20% larger, says Chris Borgman, product manger for mid-size tractors.

And finally, there’s the new 5 series utility tractors for 2012 with options ranging from 65 to 115 hp. They come standard with MFWD engagement that activates two- or four-wheel drive with the shift of a lever.

 

Self-Propelled Sprayer

The new model 4940 self-propelled sprayer, available now, replaces the 4930 and comes with more integrated technologies like Direct Injection Ready, which gives operators the ability to maintain a clear solution tank, making it easier to change between crops. It features a 1,200-gal. tank with 120-ft booms in 11 independent sections that can be turned on and off manually or automatically with Swath Control Pro. Boom widths vary from 90 to 120 ft. and are equipped with GreenStar 3 2630 display. It has a 50-in. crop clearance.

The 4940 is powered by a 340-hp 9.9L interim tier 4 PowerTech Plus turbocharged engine that can make dry applications up to 25 mph (20 mph for liquid), with a transport speed of up to 35 mph.