December 04, 2015
Other than a change of colour from Simba orange to Great Plains green, the move from shear bolt to sprung tine protection and the more recent addition of a limited disc angling option, the X-Press short disc harrow has hitherto remained pretty much the same as the first models that rolled off the Sleaford production line more than ten years ago. Over that time, the X-Press has established itself as one of the most popular cultivation tools of its type throughout the UK, across Western Europe and beyond.
With the aim of building on that success and broadening the appeal of the X-Press to a wider user base, Great Plains has announced the launch of a new generation of X-Press models.
The new X-Press line-up will closely mirror the existing range in terms of the working widths available across both mounted and trailed variants. Its core function of integrating high speed shallow cultivations via two rows of discs with consolidation from a rear mounted roller also remains essentially the same, but around that basic configuration some important changes and improvements have been made.
The most immediately obvious difference between current and new models is a new-look chassis. The lines are much cleaner and angular construction has made way for more curves. But aside from the aesthetics, the chassis is also designed to accommodate a range of new specification options, without compromising the generous amount of trash clearance between both sets of discs and the rear roller which has proved to be such a popular feature of the existing model range.
The use of tubular steel to the wing sections enables the machine to handle increased torque loadings. Trailed X-Press models utilise the tractor’s lower links for towing. The articulated headstock design allows a tighter turning circle when in the field, while the long drawbar facilitates the use of wider wheel tracking and dual wheels.
Hitherto only available on the larger 8 and 10-metre trailed models within the existing range all new mounted and trailed X-Press units will now offer the option of a levelling board. This helps to present the soil more effectively to the following rear roller, creating a finer tilth and improving seedbed preparation – especially useful in secondary cultivation operations within, for example, a plough-based system. The levelling board on mounted units will be manually adjustable. Hydraulic adjustment from the tractor cab will be available as an option on trailed units.
Manually operated on mounted units and hydraulically operated on trailed machines, depth adjustment has been updated to bring the X-Press in line with other machines within the range. Spring clip spacers now provide more choice for depth control and finer depth settings and facilitate quicker, easier depth adjustment for the operator.
Disc angling options remain a key competitive advantage for the X-Press. As with the current range, the new models offer a choice between limited disc angling via three fixed settings and fully adjustable disc angling between 0° and 25° - the latter providing real flexibility in terms of how aggressively the soil is worked. What is different however, is the operation of the disc angling function. Currently carried out manually by means of a simple turnbuckle system, the new X-Press range will now also offer the option of easy and convenient hydraulically controlled gang angle adjustment from the comfort of the tractor cab.
Disc blade choices have also been increased. The choice of notched cultivation discs or SoilRazor discs (both available in 508mm or 560mm diameters allowing for a progressive cultivation option varying front to rear) is now extended to include Turbo Coulter blades. Other disc blade options are currently being evaluated.
The SoilRazors will find favour with those users who need to chop and size really tough crop residues such as maize. Blade sizes will also be 508mm or 560mm diameter.
The Turbo Coulter blades are designed for operations where minimal disturbance is required. The same discs as used on Great Plains’ new Saxon drill, these discs have an angle wave or ‘fluted’ profile. Flutes enter the soil perpendicular to the ground for maximum cutting performance while requiring less down pressure. The same flutes exit the soil parallel to the ground for a controlled soil release. The Turbo Coulter blades, which are 515mm in diameter, will be available on all mounted and trailed X-Press models specified with limited disc angling.
The two rows of discs continue to be individually mounted on Great Plains Pro-Active disc units, which, with a trip height of 120mm, provide protection against stone damage and improved contour following while maintaining a consistent depth at high forward speeds.
With the exception of models fitted with Turbo Coulter blades, disc spacings remain at 250mm on both front and rear gangs giving a net disc spacing between gangs of 125mm.
Side-mounted soil retainers are also added to the list of new options available with the new X-Press range and will be a welcome addition for users who are working lighter soils and wish to limit the soil throw from the discs. Soil retainers are available on all machines except those specified with the Turbo Coulter blades.
The main applications for the new range will continue to be in reduced cultivation systems, to incorporate stubble and to work down ploughing. Now available with minimal disturbance Turbo Coulter discs or conventional notched blades with full disc angling, the new X-Press provides further flexibility as part of a cultural system of grass weed control.
Both mounted and trailed units will be available with the current range of consolidation rollers. However, new roller designs are planned for autumn 2016, further increasing the range of options available.
Adding to its versatility for both primary and secondary cultivations, mounted units continue to be available with the ST Bar at the front of the machine. Now also updated and featuring a headstock design modified to suit modern tractor linkage dimensions, this tool bar transforms the X-Press into a one-pass cultivator which can restructure the soil, taking out compaction caused by harvest traffic, down to a depth of 250mm.
All X-Press models fold down to 3-metres for transport. Trailed units utilise a ‘wheels over the back’ design. This, together with a wide axle track, increases stability during road transport.
The new mounted X-Press models are available in 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 metre working widths with the new trailed units coming in widths of 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0 metres. The 8.0 and 10.0 metre models in the existing range will be retained. Depending on specification and working width, the power requirement for mounted units (without ST Bar) ranges from around 70hp to 180hp and from 140hp to 480hp across the trailed model range.