Agriculture

My land, my beet, my Holmer

Posted on 21 July 2015 by Yvonne Wirth, Images by Stefan Söll, Holmer

MTU engines Series 1500 delivers the necessary power for the beet harvesters from Holmer.

Approximately 350 new beet harvesters are required around the world every year. Holmer alone manufactures 130 of these vehicles. So that these vehicles provide the necessary power, they are driven by MTU engines from the 1500 series.

Eduard Richer turns the key slowly. The MTU engine at the heart of the Holmer Terra Dos beet harvester starts to purr. Richer has worked for the agricultural machinery manufacturer Holmer for 20 years – originally as a mechanic and now as a developer. He describes himself as a tinkerer. Richer proudly explains: "If you look at the machines today, there are some parts that I developed together with my colleagues." At the Holmer plant in Eggmühl in the Upper Palatinate region of Bavaria, all 340

Eduard Richer on the Terra Dos T4-40 – the very latest software controls the harvester.

employees are like one big family. "Each one of our machines is somebody's baby," explains Andrea Heinrich, the Senior Marketing Manager at Holmer. "Because every employee understands which customer will use the beet harvester to perform its tough work. This is how we all build personal relationships." Up to ten of these giant machines are manufactured each week. A harvester combines approximately 40,000 individual parts, as well as the corresponding bolts. "For me, a Holmer is also something you can be proud of," gushes Andrea Heinrich. "Other people say: My wife, my house, my car... I would say: My house, my yacht, my Holmer." At a length of 15 meters, a width of 3 meters and a height of 4 meters, the beet harvester is one of the largest agricultural machines. "But the Terra Dos is still kinder to the ground than a woman wearing stilettos", explains Richer, as protecting the ground is an important topic right now in agriculture.

Quality is crucial


Today, Eduard Richer is driving a beet harvester to a field next to the factory for a quality check. And because this can be done even without any beet, the heavy machines can also be tested outside the beet harvest, which runs from September to

Eduard Richer and Andrea Heinrich: "At HOLMER, we are all one big family."

December. Here, we can already see the beet's green leaves (that are now up to 20 cm long) sprouting out of the ground. But there is still no sign of the beet itself.  The beet harvester is now thoroughly tested: This involves shaking, jogging, extending and retracting it, as well as fully testing all the other functions. "We do this with all of our vehicles before they are delivered to the end customer," explains Richer. His colleague, Ms Heinrich, also confirms that "top quality is very important to us." "We cannot afford for a beet harvester to break down during the harvest, at which time every day counts for the farmers." It is for this reason that Holmer relies on MTU 1500 series engines which meet the Tier 4 final emission standards. "The emission standard, the service network and the engine settings are very important to us", explains Richer. "During the harvest, the machines must be able to keep running, and a mechanic must be on-site as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency." His colleague, Ms Heinrich, adds: "MTU is a well-established name – you know what you are getting from them."

We bring together what belongs together – the MTU engine is fitted in the Terra Dos T4.

The MTU 6R 1500 series is specifically equipped for these requirements. "Heavy loads and changing speed ranges are not a problem for the engine," explains Frank Bühl, Head of Sales at MTU Friedrichshafen. "Furthermore, the 1500 series provides its maximum torque at 1300 rpm, which is precisely in the range at which the Terra Dos mostly runs. This also means that fuel costs can be reduced." With an output of 460 kW, the engine provides enough power for tough applications. And Andrea Heinrich is impressed by something else as well: "We finally have an engine that sounds incredible."

And now on to the sugar beets


In order to harvest sugar beets that weigh up to one and a half kilos, all the driver has to do is choose the correct setting on the Terra Dos. From that point onwards, the high-tech vehicle does almost everything automatically. The automatic fold-out system moves the harvester into the harvesting position. To start with, a shaft covered in mallets removes the beet's rough leaf. A knife then cuts the beet at the stem. After this, the vibrating blades lift the beet upwards from the ground so that the beet rollers then pass the beets on for cleaning.

The Terra Dos T4 offers farmers a pure high-tech machine and maximum comfort in the driver's cab.

Here, the beets run along a sieve conveyor, on which clay and mud are removed from the beets. In the silo, the beets are distributed using several augers, until all the available capacity in the silo (45 cubic meters) is used. "On average, our Terra Dos can be used to harvest one hectare of beets per hour," explains Richer. This equates to approximately 95,000 sugar beets and a weight of approximately 70,000 kg. This quantity could make 11,600 kg of sweet granulated sugar, weighing roughly the same as ten cars. During the harvest, the pressure is taken off the driver as far as possible. If all the settings have been made in the cockpit, the machine does almost everything automatically. Andrea Heinrich knows that "to fight the boredom, some farmers have even fitted a Playstation in the cockpit."

Pure high-tech


The Terra Dos is used all over the world: Whether they are in Europe, Russia, China or the USA – people everywhere rely on technology developed by Holmer. The manufacturer provides farmers with a pure high-tech product. Thanks to the full-floating front axle, the driver is not shaken about. Moreover, the driver can make every possible setting themselves – or they can allow the automatic system to take over and simply monitor the process; for example, at which height the beets are topped, how wide the row distances should be, or how much cleaning power should be used. In the past, the driver had to painstakingly get off the machine to make certain settings, but everything is now integrated in the company's own software. As a result, previously back-breaking work has now been simplified by pure high-tech equipment.

A former family-run company becomes a global leader

By its own account, Holmer is the global leader for self-propelled beet harvesters. Of the 350 machines that are sold on the global market annually, 130 are manufactured by Holmer. What began as a small village blacksmith quickly became a global success. In 1969, Alfons Holmer founded a mechanical engineering company out of his parents' business. After being approached and supported by regional farmers, in 1974, he developed the first six-row, self-propelled sugar-beet harvester and revolutionized agriculture as a result. Since 2013, Holmer has been part of Exel Industries, a French family-run company.
The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.

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Tobias J. Frank
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