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FinOvation awards

Out of the hundreds of new products described in the pages of Farm Industry News last year, 21 in particular grabbed the interest of FIN readers. Maybe it was a product that incorporated new technology. Or a new improvement to a standard tool. Whatever the innovation, readers wanted to know more.

We analyzed all of our reader inquires from last year to select these 21 intriguing products as our FinOvation award recipients for 2003. Together they represent the best of new products for the farm.

Tractors: Technology

John Deere now makes tractors without gearshifts. The new Infinitely Variable Transmission (IVT) replaces gearshifts on the 7320, 7420, 7520, 7710, 7810 and 6420 tractors. Because demand for the new transmission has been strong, however, all models with IVT are currently sold out.

The IVT is similar to automatic transmissions in cars only with a speed control lever that includes a set speed adjustor. IVT speeds range from a creeper speed of 164 ft./hr. to 25 mph. The operator can select an economy mode that maximizes fuel efficiency in medium and light load conditions. It will ensure a constant vehicle speed at reduced engine rpm levels. At the load control mode, the automatic transmission maintains constant peak power levels. The driver can stop the tractor at any speed or engine rpm by stepping on the foot brakes. To resume speed, the driver releases the brakes, and the tractor accelerates to its previously commanded speed.

A left-hand reverser includes a new PowerZero setting, which holds the tractor and load in position without braking. The tractor will not roll regardless of engine rpm or slope.

For more information, visit or

Tractors with less than 150 hp

Last year's big news in the tractor industry was the rebirth of McCormick tractors. The cherry red vehicles entered the small-tractor market at a time when Americans were feeling nostalgic. But these tractors are anything but retro. Built alongside Case models in an English factory, the new tractors are equipped with all the latest technology. Throughout the year, McCormick added more features to the tractors to distinguish them from their Case cousins. And in 2003, only McCormick tractors will be built in the factory.

McCormick first marketed the new tractors to the U.S. livestock industry, which needs workhorses for row-crop, hay and front-end loader work. The company teamed up with Vermeer for service, distribution and parts. It also approached Vermeer dealers about handling the line. Today, McCormick reports it has 100 dealers selling the new tractors.

The largest McCormick models available for purchase are those in the MTX series, with 118 to 176 hp. All MTX tractors are 4-wd and equipped with turbocharged Perkins engines. They retail for $69,700 to $98,400. The compact MC series tractors with 90 to 115 hp are built for speed and power. They feature a diesel Perkins engine and 4-wd and cost $54,400 to $66,000. The CX and C series are geared to hay and front-end loader operations. These models have 73 to 102 hp and a 4-wd front axle with a 2-wd option. They cost $24,400 to $48,900. Contact McCormick, Dept. FIN, Box 81, Pella, IA 50219, 866/327-6733, or visit or

Tractors with 150 to 250 hp

The operator-friendly TG tractor models from New Holland earned plenty of responses from readers. New Holland introduced the new models last summer to replace the Genesis line, which the company spun off and sold to Buhler Industries. The TG models, with PTO horsepower ranging from 170 to 240, are equipped with an 8.3-l engine that produces up to 56% torque rise. The engine works at maximum efficiency with its 18 forward and 4 reverse speed powershift transmission. An auto-shift button easily switches from fieldwork speed to a 25-mph road speed. Growers needing ultraslow field speeds may purchase a creeper package. The electronically controlled engine meets Tier III emissions standards.

The cabs are large and filled with many creature comforts — from air-ride seats to heated seats in the deluxe versions. These models also are equipped with CNH's patented SuperSteer front axle design. The ultra-tight 70° turn angle on the TG makes U-turns with wide implements easy. The standard 2-wd axle turns 55°, and the standard front-wheel-assist axle turns 50°. The electronic draft control hitch lifts up to 17,920 lbs.

The TG series consists of the TG210 (170 PTO hp), TG230 (190 PTO hp), TG 255 (215 PTO hp) and TG285 (240 PTO hp). Price: $109,256 to $132,085. Contact New Holland North America Inc., Dept. FIN, 500 Diller Ave., New Holland, PA 17577-0903, 717/355-1121, or visit or

Tractors with more than 250 hp

Caterpillar's introduction last year of its massive Challenger MT800 series tractors coincided with its announcement that it was selling the complete Challenger line to AGCO Corporation. The announcement didn't dampen farmer interest in the new high-powered line. The MT800 series, comprised of four models with gross engine horsepower ranging from 340 to 500, takes the top spot in our high-horsepower tractor category.

These beefy tractors offer many features to make them tops in this class. The 16 forward/4 reverse Caterpillar-designed transmission provides nine gears in the critical 3.4- to 9.3-mph working range. The hydraulics come with a standard 43.5-gpm flow and four standard remote circuits. An optional 59-gpm pump is available, as well as two additional remote hydraulic valves for a total of six. Forget about frequent breaks for fuel. The new models come standard with a 305-gal. fuel tank, except the MT865, which has a 330-gal. tank.

Adjustable track gauge is available for the new series. The Mobil-tracsystem undercarriage design allows operators to adjust the distance between the tracks. The distance range of 90 to 128 in. allows the tracked tractors to adapt to a wide variety of tillage and row-crop applications. It also sports the longest wheelbase of any two-track design, providing maximum flotation and tractive efficiency.

Contact AGCO Corp., Dept. FIN, 4205 River Green Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30096, 770/813-9200, or visit or


The ink was barely dry on our October issue when readers started asking for more information about the new Axial Flow combines from Case IH. The 2003 models feature an overhauled AFX rotor that Case calls a breakthrough in rotary combine technology. Leo Bose, marketing and training manager for Case IH harvesting equipment, reports, “Our new rotor increases throughput in a Case IH 2388 Axial Flow combine by up to 25%, while improving fuel efficiency and reducing wear.” This is accomplished by a graduated pitch impeller that looks like a boat motor prop and by the smooth flow of material from the feeder to the threshing and separating areas. A redesigned rasp bar provides more grain-on-grain threshing. Overall, the rotor runs much quieter than that of other combines because the grain flows through easily. The company moved the new hydraulically driven rotary air screen, coolers, radiator and fan to the front of the engine to increase cooling efficiency.

Case IH is manufacturing the Class V and VI 2366 and 2388 combines with more horsepower and throughput. The 2366 combines will have 10 more horsepower with a new Case IH air-to-air, aftercooled engine for improved performance. The new Class VII AFX7010 and AFX8010 will provide 325 to 375 hp.

Prices for combines equipped for corn and soybeans start at $219,754 for the 2366 and $252,659 for the 2388. Contact Case Corp., Dept. FIN, 700 State St., Racine, WI 53404, 262/636-5678, or visit or

Field improvement

Growers will get the most out of one pass through the field with the new Case IH MRX690 mulch-till ripper. This multi-task implement uses a disk-ripper-disk configuration to create a healthy soil profile and leave the surface evenly mulched, ready for spring cultivation. The shallow-concavity, 24-in.-dia. front disc blades cut through residue and soil. These discs are set at an 18° angle to produce less streaking and to provide uniform mixing of residue. As a result, the soil will dry quickly and warm up in the spring.

The ripper section features parabolic shank assemblies with 2-in. straight points or 5- or 7-in. tiger points, which fracture up to 60% of the compaction zone. The back disc section includes full-concavity, 24-in.-dia. disc blades in combination with two 22-in.-dia. outside feathering blades at the rear, all set at a 16° angle. This configuration creates a level finish in just one pass by uniformly mulching residue and sizing clods.

The MRX690 is available in two widths: 12½ ft. with five shanks retailing for $17,300 to $18,500; and 17½ ft. with seven shanks retailing for $24,300 to $29,500. Contact Case Corp., Dept. FIN, 700 State St., Racine, WI 53404, 262/636-5678, or visit or


The ability to outfit a Great Plains Discovator with the company's popular Turbo Coulters drew enough attention to land this implement in the winner's spot for tillage. The Discovator has been around for six years, but this past fall the implement could be ordered with the coulters. These coulters have been used for years on Great Plains no-till drills, according to Tom Evans, vice president of sales.

The Turbo Coulters are waved, ⅝-in.-wide blades that slice straight down instead of at an angle. This action sizes residue, picks up and fluffs dirt, and then sets it back down in the same place. Attached to the Discovator, the coulters reduce compaction and ridging that conventional disc gangs cause. Evans calls this concept“vertical” tillage, in contrast to the horizontal tillage created by conventional disc blades.

The Discovator is available in sizes from 16 to 52 ft. and with a rigid or folding frame. Price: $700 to $900/ft. Contact Great Plains Mfg., Dept. FIN, Box 5060, Salina, KS 67402-5060, 785/823-3276, or visit or


No sooner had John Deere announced its new line of 1790 planters in late summer than it sold out of them for the next planting season. Deere had built plenty of suspense about the new planters with claims that this line is the biggest change in seeding equipment since the MaxEmerge planter. So when the company finally unveiled the planters, growers quickly turned in orders for all the production available by spring 2003.

What are the growers buying? The 1790 front-fold planter is a significant change in seeding equipment for Deere. It features a new frame, new hydraulic system, new markers and new drives. Plus, it is equipped with the company's new bulk fill system called the Central Commodity System (CCS) and new Pro-Series row units. The CCS includes two distinctive yellow, rotomolded polyethylene tanks, which together hold 70 bu. on the 30-ft. machines and 100 bu. on the 40-ft. machines. The large capacity greatly reduces fill time, which gives growers more time to plant. Deere estimates that a 31-row unit with 100-bu. capacity will plant 2,000 acres in 83 hrs. at 6.5 mph. Only 3½ hours are spent filling the bulk seed tanks.

Seed is transferred from the CCS tanks by a hydraulically driven fan into mini-hoppers on each row unit where a small pool of seed is maintained. The fan uses high-volume, low-pressure airflow for gentle delivery of the seed. The seed is then metered into the seed trench.

The new Pro-Series row units are based on the original Max-Emerge system, which works well in all field conditions. Because the row units no longer include seed hoppers, the weight on each unit is reduced and seed depth is more consistent and accurate. A Pro-Shaft drive replaces the chain drive system to rotate seed meters on the row units. Growers may order either vacuum or mechanical meters.

The new planter comes in five sizes: a 12-row, 30-in. or 23-row, 15-in. model; 12-row, 30-in. or 24-row, 15-in. model; 16-row, 30-in. or 31-row, 15-in. model; 16-row, 30-in. or 32-row, 15-in. model; and 24-row, 20-in. model. List prices range from $71,301 to $93,904. For more information, visit or


Bobcat claims it was the first company to release an all-wheel and skid-steer loader last winter with its A220 model. In the spring, the company added a larger A300 model to the line. Being the first with the new loader, Bobcat earned our readers' votes for tops in the loader category.

The all-wheel steering provides a smooth ride and less ground and concrete disturbance than skid steering. Tires are expected to last longer, too. And because operators use only one stick to run all-wheel steering, operator fatigue is less than with the skid-steer mode that requires two levers to operate. However, if a driver needs skid steering in tight, confined areas, both Bobcat models offer the option to change to skid steering with the flip of a switch.

The A220 model is rated with a 2,200-lb. capacity and is a radius lift vehicle. It retails for $36,000. The A300 model will handle 3,000 lbs. and is a vertical lift machine. It sells for $38,000. The models include a two-speed travel option, low-speed/high-torque “inching” mode and foot pedal accelerator. Contact Bobcat Co., Dept. FIN, Box 6000, West Fargo, ND 58078, 701/241-8700, or visit or


Sales of the SwathSmart guidance lightbar from Raven Industries are growing dramatically as farmers seek ways to precisely drive application equipment day and night. SwathSmart, introduced a year ago, helps operators keep from overlapping swaths on crops from corn and soybeans to rice and cotton. It also works on many different patterns, including parallel, contour, center pivot, row crop and double headland.

The key features of the new lightbar are simple installation, simple operation and flexibility, according to precision products manager Paul Welbig. Growers mark the endpoints of the first swath and the system takes over. Removable cables make the system easy to move to another machine. In the past year, Raven has added other options to SwathSmart, including tilt compensation for driving on side hills and an on-screen mapping option.

Price of the system is less than $4,000. Contact Raven Industries, Dept. FIN, Box 5107, Sioux Falls, SD 57117, 800/243-5435, or visit or

Crop protection

This year's top crop protection product delivers one-pass, preemergent control of weeds in corn. Lumax by Syngenta Crop Protection is particularly formulated for growers in the northern Corn Belt who typically use a two-pass program. Lumax's unique combination of the new mesotrione chemistry along with atrazine and S-metolachlor takes care of major broadleaf and grass weeds all season long, according to Matt Comer, northern fields crop brand manager. Syngenta introduced the mesotrione chemistry last year in its popular Callisto herbicide.

Lumax has been in development since 2000 when the company formed, Comer says. “The product is unique because it uses three modes of action in delivering weed control,” he says. “It helps us feel confident that we can control and prevent the development of weeds, especially if more than one mode of action is working on a weed.”

Lumax can be applied from 10 days before planting to emerged corn up to 5 in. tall. The recommended rate for best results is 3 qts./acre. To avoid crop injury, Lumax should not be used where Counter or Lorsban were used, and it should not be tank mixed with an organophosphate insecticide.

The company expects that Lumax will cost about $30/acre or less, comparing favorably with full-campaign programs that can cost $35 to $40/acre. For more information, visit or


The model 670 trailer sprayer from Redball with a 120-ft. boom and 2,400-gal. capacity garnered heavy interest from our readers. This large sprayer will cover in one trip through the field the same ground as three or four passes with a planter. Plus, the extra tank capacity means more time between fills. The model 670 is equipped with side-by-side 1,200-gal. tanks that are plumbed together but have separate sump valves so they can be used together or separately. The boom is front-folding with a 20-ft. center section. The trailer sprayer features offset walking-tandem axles for improved flotation in the field.

Redball President Steve Claussen says the sprayer works well for growers who need to spray 1,000 acres or more and want to use their own tractors to do the spraying. This model is one of the largest pull-type sprayers manufactured and may compete in the self-propelled sprayer market.

Claussen says he expects this model to be available for purchase by late 2003 or early 2004. Estimated cost: $50,000. The company also is working on a 132-ft. boom for its trailer sprayers. Contact Redball LLC, Dept. FIN, Box 159, Benson, MN 56215, 877/332-2551, or visit or


Landec Ag launched a new line of seed technology with specialized coatings this past year. Intellicoat Early Plant seed coating opens the planting window about four weeks for growers pressed for time. The unique coating protects the seed in cold wet ground until soil temperatures rise to 55°. Then the coating allows germination to begin. But if temperatures drop below 55°, the coating reverses and germination halts until temperatures warm up.

The Intellicoat technology was broadly field tested this past year on Fielder's Choice hybrids with good results, according to Bill Gass, Landec Ag's vice president of marketing and new business development. “Farmers are making the connection very quickly about the value to their farm with the time savings and being able to get the majority of the crop in on time,” he says. The coating is available this year on 20 hybrids sold by Fielder's Choice Direct, which is owned by Landec Ag. Estimated cost is $11/acre.

Several years ago, the parent company Landec Corporation recognized the potential of using polymer coatings in seed, Gass reports. It was a natural product extension for Landec, which develops and sells temperature-activated and other specialty polymer products for the food industry. The Early Plant application is one of the first to come out of the company's research. The polymer seed coating is made from natural fatty acids. It restricts water absorption in cool temperatures and allows absorption when temperatures rise.

Landec Ag is working with several other seed companies for providing the coating in 2004. Next, Gass says it will test how the product works with other products such as seed-applied insecticides. Contact Landec Ag at 800/241-7252 or to learn more about the technology. For hybrids, contact Fielder's Choice Direct at 800/321-3177, or visit or


The concept of squeezing grain to move it instead of augering it made sense to readers who were interested in Eagle Concepts' new Squeeze Belt conveyor. The company manufactures equipment for the seed industry and developed the Squeeze Belt to solve augering problems at steep inclines. A typical conveyor will start losing its moving capacity at 25° to 30° inclines because the grain rolls back down the conveyor. The Squeeze Belt will move grain up a 40° incline by gently squeezing the grain between two 16-in., crescent-shaped moving belts.

The conveyor is available in sizes from 20 to 90 ft. An 80-ft. squeeze belt with truck-unloading conveyor sells for $16,500. The company reports other industries are looking at the conveyor to move products such as fertilizer and pea gravel. Contact Eagle Concepts Inc., Dept. FIN, 102 Hannah Circle, Underwood, IA 51576, 712/566-2096, or visit


Honda is one of our readers' favorite ATV manufacturers and the company again proved it by taking first in the ATV category with its new FourTrax Rincon. The Rincon is a sporty 650cc model that is just now coming into dealerships. Its unique design features SUV styling, flowing fenders and integrated headlights and taillights. Honda uses aluminum components in the vehicle's control arms, rear knuckles and wheels to keep the ATV's weight down to a mere 600 lbs. (dry weight). The liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine is fully automatic with a torque-sensing, limited-slip front differential and fully independent front and rear suspension. The Rincon has a switch-operated 2-wd/4-wd system called TraxLok. It clears 10.7 in. of ground.

Contact American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Dept. FIN, 1919 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501-2746, 310/783-2000, or visit or


The time-saving capability of the Chassis Saver by Magnet Paints appealed to many vehicle owners. This new underbody coating requires only one application and needs no primer or top coat. Paint it on with a brush, roller or spray gun.

Readers were also impressed with Chassis Saver's ability to protect against road salts, gasoline, oil, battery acid and other solvents. It chemically bonds to rusted or bare metal to create a hard, glazelike, nonporous finish that provides long protection. The product is lead-and chromate-free.

Prices run $67.75/gal. or $23.75/qt. Contact Magnet Paints, Dept. FIN, 336 Bayview Ave., Amityville, New York, NY 11701, 800/922-9981, or visit or


A year ago, Vanberg Specialized Coatings developed a new coating that forms a chemical- and wear-resistant barrier on concrete. Farmers took notice because nearly every farm has concrete floors in need of repair. V-Seal CR is particularly attractive because it requires little preparation work before application. It is applied without an acid etch step. The product's low viscosity and high solids resin penetrates deep into concrete to strengthen it. The company says the product will fill cracks less than 2 ml thick. Multiple coats create a glossy finish.

A 2-gal. kit that covers 400 sq. ft. sells for $103. Contact Vanberg Specialized Coatings, Dept. FIN, Box 19414, Lenexa, KS 66285-9414, 800/874-0631, or visit or


Improvements are always being made on even the most common farm tool. In this case, the tweaking to a grease gun drew many responses from readers who want better greasing tools. The new Work Force grease gun by Legacy was shown at the annual Hardware Show in Chicago where it caught the eye of a Farm Industry News Team FIN member. This gun features a pistol grip, high pressure (40:1), and lever action. It is constructed of durable materials, including a cast-alloy pump head and a heavy-gauge knurled steel barrel.

The grease gun comes with quick-coupled auxiliary tips. Price: $55. Contact Legacy Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 9, Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-0009, 800/645-8258, or visit or


A new software program that works on a powerful handheld computer should forever replace a spiral notebook stuck in a grower's pocket. SST's new Stratus software makes recording farm notes so easy and detailed that even a novice computer user can handle the job. Stratus displays field maps where growers record any work or product used on the field. Growers may split fields if different hybrids are used. The handheld computer is then put into a cradle to bring the records into a desktop computer for printing.

Stratus is unique because it includes an extensive database of seed companies' hybrids and varieties. This includes all crops, from corn and soybeans to peas and cauliflower. The database also includes all chemicals applied to these crops and equipment used for fieldwork. Options are accessed through drop-down lists, so no typing is needed. SST reports it is constantly updating the database. Licensed users may access the updates every time they go online.

For 2003, SST plans several additions to the software that will increase its ability to help growers collect and record information about their farm operation. It costs $600 for a farm license for SST Stratus. Contact SST Inc., Dept. FIN, 824 N. Country Club Rd., Stillwater, OK 74075, 888/377-5334, or visit or


A new driveway monitor that won't be triggered by people or animals detects any vehicle entering your driveway. The monitor from Design Tech International uses a magnetic field to sense vehicles and large metal objects. The sensor on the driveway sends a radio signal to the monitor located in your home or office up to 1,000 ft. away. The monitor chimes and a red alert button flashes to alert you when a vehicle is approaching. Press the alert button to reset the flashing light.

The sensor is easy to install. Drive a plastic rod into the ground next to the driveway and attach the monitor to it. Price of the monitor is $179.95. It is available at hardware stores, including Lowes and Ace Hardware. Or contact Design Tech International, Dept. FIN, 7955 Cameron Brown Ct., Springfield, VA 22153, 800/337-4468, or visit or


The Speedrite/Tru-Test Fence Alert makes checking fence in the dark easy. Clip the device to an electric fence wire and it will flash a warning light if the voltage is low or intermittent and livestock may escape. The light can be seen from up to one mile away. Fence Alert may be switched to a preferred trigger level. The low level will activate the flashing light when voltage drops below 1.5 kV, and the high level will trigger the light when levels drop below 2.5 kV.

Fence Alert runs on a battery that lasts up to five years if no fault occurs. It also will work with all pulse energizers. No ground wire is needed.

Price: $16.95. Contact Tru-Test Inc., Dept. FIN, 528 Grant Rd., Mineral Wells, TX 76067, 940/327-8020, or visit or

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