THE SAYING goes it's a perfect 10 when everything comes together just right – and so well-known German manufacturer Fendt reckons its latest combine range is a an IDEAL 10

First unveiled at Agritechnica 2019, the company's largest combine harvester, the Fendt IDEAL 10, has been undergoing test runs – and it's one that does not require conventional steering wheel to control it.

It has the revolutionary IDEALdrive steering system – basically using a joystick. The way ahead, or a gimmick? Time will tell but Fendt's engineering team have a habit of being ahead of the game.

Fendt argued that the steering wheel on combines have served their purpose, but does have disadvantages. The IDEALdrive joystick is located on the left armrest, but leaves the machine controlling functions of the joystick on the right armrest the same as before.

The left hand steers, while the right hand controls the speed. This new machine control system means the driver has a perfect and direct view of both the cutting unit and the feeder of the inclined main crop elevator. This unique system complies with all European vehicle and traffic regulations.

The joystick control will be rolled out for the 2021 model year and can be fitted as an option for all tracked machines in all of the IDEAL series.

The new top-end model of the Ideal large combine series is equipped with a new MAN 16.2-litre engine and meets European emissions standard stage V. With a max output of 790 hp, a new cleaning system and a larger version of the familiar Dual Helix separator, it promises more power and output.

Not only goes it give 143 hp more than the second largest model, the Ideal 9, the 10 has the added feature of a new cleaning system and 15% more cleaning capacity.

With its cyclone cleaning system, grain drops down to the top sieve through two curved double-drop steps. These curves use the laws of physics see the heavy grains gather in the lower section, while lighter parts accumulate above.

The curved steps also provide a wider air outlet, which can significantly increase air volume to make the cleaning process more efficient. With two drop levels, most of the short straw and chaff is separated on the first level.

The remaining non-grain components are separated on the second levels, which means the cleaning process happens over four sections, meanwhile two return floors ensure even distribution and coverage across the preparation floor.

The rotor dual helix, already known from Fendt's Ideal 8 and 9 models, is bigger in the 10. And two additional separator concaves add 12% to the concave surface area – with a separation area of 4.54m2, this giant capacity is one of the mainstays of boosting throughput.

IDEAL 9T proves itself under test

The German testing facility, DLG, helped put a Fendt IDEAL 9T through its paces in a performance test.

In this and up against another combine harvester from the same power class, it demonstrated impressive results in terms of flow rate and losses, as well as grain quality and straw length.

The tests took place at the start of August, 2020, in wheat fields at speeds between 4 and 8 km/h. At 8 km/h, the maximum achievable speed under the given harvest conditions, the IDEAL 9T had an overall flow rate of almost 150 tonnes and a grain throughput of nearly 89 tonnes per hour.

The comparative machine achieved a lower maximum flow rate in the tests with much greater levels of grain loss. Losses on the Fendt were just 1%, and it had a 21.5% higher overall flow rate.

Negligible broken grain content is also a factor in a quality sample and, at grain moisture levels of 12% to 13%, the IDEAL 9T had the best results on the day of the test at very low broken grain contents of 0.1-0.3%, while its counterpart generated 0.8% to 1.5%.

As part of the tests, straw quality was also investigated and in the Fendt there were higher proportions, and at the higher speed of 8 km/h, the differences were more pronounced than at the lower speed of 4 km/h.