At an Agritechnica preview event this week, machinery giant Kverneland showcased its latest innovations. These included a new 'GEOMOW' option for its butterfly mower combinations.
In a nutshell, GEOMOW enables full automation of the mower when used in conjunction with the tractor's own on board GPS and ISOBUS systems.
The idea is to minimise the operator's input, while maximising the machine's output.
For example, the system automatically adjusts the overlap between the rear and front mowers, as required, as well as automatically sequencing the lifting of each mower at the headland - thanks to a 'section control' feature.
This application, says Kverneland, can increase productivity by up to 10%, by making better use of the mowers' full cutting width for more of the time. The company also claims that it makes butterfly mowers far simpler to operate for the driver.
Triple-mower combinations, by their nature, rarely realise their maximum working widths. This is because drivers tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to overlaps between adjacent passes. This, understandably, is to avoid unsightly uncut strips of grass.
GEOMOW, claims Kverneland, ensures the mower is "always utilising its maximum capacity by constantly monitoring the line in which the tractor is driving". This enables it to "know" the position of the front mower. This information prompts the system to constantly "react and adjust the overlap of the rear mowers" - for example when going around a curve or a corner.
When working on slopes, tractors can naturally tend to drift or crab - especially on steep gradients or in wet conditions. GEOMOW also compensates for this automatically by, again, increasing the overlap between the front and rear mowers.
If the corner is too tight for the mowers to compensate, the driver gets a warning signal on the terminal; he or she can manually re-adjust to ensure no strips or wedges of grass are missed.
At the headland, GEOMOW has another party piece - this time in the form of 'section control'. This eliminates the hassle of the driver having to time (or sequence) the lifting of the individual mowers.
How does it work? The area being mowed is continuously being monitored so, upon reaching the end of the field, the front and rear mowers automatically rise as they enter the already-cut area - at "exactly the right time".
The same applies when resuming work (coming into uncut grass) - albeit, the other way around. The front and rear mowers lower automatically - again at "exactly the right time".
This, says Kverneland, allows the driver to concentrate fully on the turning manoeuvre, allowing the triple-mower's control unit to sort out the rest.
These mowers are marketed in Ireland under the Kverneland brand. They are sold under the Vicon banner in some European markets.