THE return of the so-called 'tin fronts' is gaining traction in the Western Australian market, particularly with farmers growing canola and lupins.
Ironically, the frustration of watching crops start to bunch on the header front and gravitate on top of the feeder house, saw a pronounced swing away from tin fronts in the 1990s to drapers fronts, especially if you didn't have an extension platform for lupins (pod loss) and grew canola (bunching).
But variable platform technology is now gaining the attention of farmers and Boekeman Machinery Dowerin manager Peter Crippen says the release of Case IH's 3050 VariCut Auger platform, with stainless steel floor, provides an answer to those farmers wanting to quicken the pace of their header while reducing grain losses.
The bonus is that it is now suited for controlled traffic farming with a new working width of 12.5 metres.
Another bonus is the moving stainless steel floor made by Geraldton manufacturer Nufab Industries, which enhances crop movement off the knives towards the horizontal auger.
The main features of the 3050 are the variable knife platform, which allows the operator to tune the header on-the-go for maximum performance, depending on the material cut length.
For example, you would move the platform forward for taller crops and rearward for shorter crops for the best feeding.
A single span reel on all models avoids any "dead spots" and the HD pickup reel is designed to reach below the cutter bar to pick up any lodged crops.
Older-style tin fronts manufactured 30-40 years ago had rigid extension platforms and while they worked well, they lacked the flexibility to provide optimum feed and speed of operation in all crops, something Case-IH says is a feature of the 3050.
This new front provides about 57 millimetres of travel as the cutter bar hits the crop and material is grabbed straight away from the cross auger which has retractable fingers all the way along its length.
With older rigid fronts, the cutter bar was too close to the cross auger and there wasn't the same number of retractable fingers, hence the bunching on the knife causing pod loss or canola branches flying over the top of the auger and settling on the feeder housing.
Anecdotal evidence is showing 3050 owners are achieving a better sample and gaining about three kilometres an hour in speed.
The front is a simple design, low maintenance with features including auto height control and optional vertical knives to minimise canola shattering.
Wyalkatchem farmer Graham Dickson, who recently bought a 3050, said it was his first option for his controlled traffic farming program.
"We've got about 400 hectares or lupins and a similar number of hectares for canola and we've tried the draper fronts but the losses have been unacceptable to us," Mr Dickson said.
"When I saw a tin front that would fit our system it seemed the logical way to go.
"We've still got a 3152 (draper front) for our cereals but if the new one goes OK we might give it a try in the cereals too.
"I'm pretty confident we can make a big difference to our seed losses with this new model and we also wanted to go quicker so that's a bonus too."