Innovative hoe drill wins Henty Machine of the Year

Denis Dorval, Bourgault operations manager, with Machine of the Year judge Mark Bowyer, Osborne.

A 24m wide drill able to fold to a transport width of 5.4m within minutes is the winner of the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award.

The 3420 PHD Paralink Hoe Drill, entered by Bourgault, impressed judges with its unique folding mechanism, with the wings able to be folded and unfolded in three-and-a-half minutes for transport.

As one of the widest drills on the market, the 3420 was debuted by Canadian manufacture Bourgault to Australian dealers at Howlong in June, with Henty being its first public display.

The field days, southern Australia’s single biggest agricultural and open-air event, are on September 19-21.

Highly commended was the Coolamon All Rounder multi-purpose chaser bin entered by Bruce and Heath Hutcheon, Coolamon Chaser Bins, Coolamon, NSW.

A total of 18 machines and equipment at the cutting edge of agricultural technology were showcased in the Machine of the Year.

Announced on the opening day, this “farmers choice’’ award is presented to the most outstanding new piece of agricultural machinery exhibited at the field days.

It was judged by an independent panel of regional primary producers on Monday and presented at the field days opening today (September 19).

In many cases the winning machine has gone on to become a standard piece of equipment on farms throughout Australia.

Judging criteria includes the machine’s purpose and suitability, scope of application, construction (durability and design), ease of maintenance and service, ease of operation and adjustment, availability of parts and overall value for money.

Last year, the award was won by the flexible sheep handling system, Back Up Charlie, entered by Urana farmers Charlie and Tana Webb.

Judge Mark Bowyer said the award was open to all machines on site released into the Australian market in the 12 months prior to the field days.

Mr Bowyer said the award showcased innovative equipment already commercially available in the market place.

He said the 3420 PHD Paralink Hoe Drill was well designed and built.

“The folding mechanism was quite complex – for a big machine like that it takes a lot of engineering,’’ he said.

“There has been several prototypes tested in Canada – we were impressed with the overall quality of the machine.

“A computer in the tractor sets out the sequence of the fold mechanism to make it fail safe.

“For a machine that is 80 foot (24m) wide, it folds up quite narrow and the rear wheels have steering allowing it to track along nicely on the turns.’’

Mr Bowyer expects the hoe drill to have applications in broadacre cropping areas of Western Australia and northern NSW.

The machine was originally debuted to the North American market in 2015, with units up to 30m wide out sowing crops in the last two seasons.

It will be demonstrated each day at Henty at 11am, 1pm and 3pm at the Local Land Services plot site.

Bourgault NSW territory manager Jonathon McKenzie said the key feature of the 3420 was the Transfold mechanism, giving a 5.4m transport width – ideal for narrow roads in some Australian states.

He said there were few manufacturers in Australia offering drills on such a large scale, with most of them being end-tow units.

“This means it takes hours to get them ready for transport whereas the 3420 can be folded and unfolded in less than four minutes,’’ Mr McKenzie said.

“Since we showcased the 3420 to dealers in June, there has been a lot of interest created with customers as well, and we have been doing a lot of quoting.’’

Highly commended was the Coolamon All Rounder from Coolamon Chaser Bins, Coolamon, NSW.

The multi-purpose three-in-one chaser bin is already turning heads as it increases productivity and offers year-round flexibility.

Coolamon Chaser Bin general manager Heath Hutcheon said the All Rounder was a world first combination of a chaser bin, seed and super grouper and fertiliser spreader.

“The All Rounder functions as a chaser bin at harvest time, a seed-super unit at sowing time and a fertiliser spreader throughout the year,’’ Mr Hutcheon said.

Judge Mark Bowyer said the All Rounder’s build quality and engineering was outstanding.

“The feature of this chaser bin was the conveyor belt underneath – most chaser bins have an auger and this has done away with that,’’ Mr Bowyer said.

“It has two bins separated by a wall, while the conveyor underneath brings the product up to two augers at the front for use as a seed and fertiliser unit for filling air seeder bins.

“The conveyor results in less contamination between two different products.

“The belt cleans itself out before switching over to the other auger at the front.

“The machine is on tracks, which is an added feature when considering compaction.’’

Mr Bowyer said the two spinners on the rear of the machine converted it to a spreader for urea application.

“The belt can be reversed to carry the product to the back, with an in-cab computer controlling the product coming out of the actuator slides of the two bins, and dropping onto the belt,’’ he said.

“Like all the Coolamon products, it is well built, with service and spare parts available locally.’’

Mr Bowyer said entries were diverse and of high quality.

“We thank all the exhibitors for entering their machines – it was a great experience judging them all and learning about what they can do,’’ he said.