Header front set to change harvest pace

Jo FulwoodCountryman

In an Australian first, a new 18m, or 60ft, header front is set to change the pace of harvesting across Australia's grain belt.

With predicted productivity gains of up to 35 per cent, the new draper front weighs in at a hefty 4.8 tonnes, and allows consistency across all seeding and harvesting machinery.

And with the first of these massive fronts only weeks away from release, growers can upgrade their fronts as soon as this harvest.

Designed by MidWest Fabrications, based in Dalby, Queensland, the front can fit any combine make and will have a limited release in 2013.

MidWest Fabrication director Craig Schutt said the front was designed in response to customer feedback, with growers requiring more productivity from their harvesters than what was currently available.

"When compared with the 12 metre machine, which is the industry standard, you are going to get a 30 or 35 per cent gain on that with this new front," Mr Schutt said.

"Everyone is striving to be more productive, that's the driver of this," he said.

"We did a lot of development work three years ago and it got to a point that the enquiry was at such a level that it was a time to make a move on the production of the front," he said.

Mr Schutt said growers should not be concerned at the weight of the front.

"As far as combines go now - the factory fitted 12 row corn front is well over five tonne, so this 18 metre front is well and truly inside that."

But he said quad ground wheels had been fitted to this front, to assist in weight bearing between the combine and the header front. It will be the only front available with quad wheels.

Mr Schutt said the length of the front and trailer, when towing, had been an issued raised with him by growers.

"On the east coast, it's definitely been part of the conversation," he said.

In Western Australia, the Towed Agricultural Implements Regulations stipulates that any agricultural combination exceeding 7.5m in width or 30m in length cannot travel on roads without a permit.

Mr Schutt said when towed with a combine harvester, the MidWest trailer and front measured just over 29 metres, except with an optioned up Claas combine, which measured just over 30m.

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