Fendt Ideal hits all the right buttons for Riverina family

Written by Paul Titus

When your livelihood is growing crops, your choice of combine harvester is critical. The Armanini family chose a Fendt Ideal 8T, and it arrived in October, 2022.

Robert and Steven Armanini, their father John and their wives Susan and Daniela, grow wheat, canola and rice on 1300 ha of irrigated land in the Riverina.

Robert explains that a big reason they chose the Fendt Ideal was its separation area.

“It has dual helix rotors and it has a length of 5m, which allows for such a big separation and threshing area. In wheat and canola, the separation area is important, but for rice it is even more important.”

The big rotors have a 600-mm diameter. They separate gently and reliably while operating at lower speeds and using less power.

Separating rice is difficult because it is harvested green with 20 to 23 percent moisture. Robert says he looked at other brands which had a similar capacity. “From what we could see, we weren’t happy with their grain loss.”

He also took the time to measure grain loss in the Fendt Ideal.

“Harvesting a 6-7 tonne/ha wheat crop at 35-40 tonnes/hour harvest losses were less than half a percent. Harvesting rice averaging 12 to 13 tonne/ha with a large amount of green material coming in, harvest losses were only 1 percent.

“This is exceptional and means more return at the end of harvest. That is one of the biggest reasons why we went with this machine.”

Robert has two other important reasons for choosing the Fendt Ideal – its tracks and its 12m AGCO PowerFlow front.

Photograby Vince Bucello, Midstate Video Productions

Fendt Ideals can be specified with tracks or dual wheels and the Armaninis chose the 760mm (30-inch) tracks.

The decision paid off within a month, when they harvested the wheat and canola in spring. “It was very wet and lots of people were getting bogged. We didn’t have those issues.”

It might seem that with tracks comes the compromise of slower road speeds, however not in this case.

“It has rubber tracks and flies down the road at 40 kph,” Robert says. “Even with large tracks, the machine is very manoeuvrable.”

PowerFlow Front

Photography by Vince Bucello, Midstate Video Productions

The AGCO PowerFlow front was new to the family. Up until now they had windrowed canola and then harvested with a pick-up front. The PowerFlow gave them the option to direct head the crop.

“We were a little bit anxious as we didn’t know how it would go, but the front did an awesome job in canola. We wouldn’t go back to windrowing.”

The next challenge for the PowerFlow was the rice. “We were confident it would work. It did take some adjustments, as there is so much green material. The AGCO reps came out to get it working in rice and it went really well.”

A major benefit of the PowerFlow front is its versatility – the one front can harvest all their crops. Previously they had three different fronts. This means extra capital cost, as well as the down time needed to swap and maintain them.

The separator, tracks and PowerFlow were the three key features convincing the Armanini family to swap to a Fendt Ideal, however there are many others which Robert appreciates.

He was not familiar with an MAN engine, but is now a convert. “They are really efficient on fuel. It is very quiet, producing 540 hp on the Class 8."

Robert also compliments the AirSense cooling system. “It is usually hot and dusty at harvest. The cooling system automatically reverses the fan regularly to blow out any stuff on the radiator. It is always clean and works really well.”

Advanced features

Photography by Vince Bucello, Midstate Video Productions

The Armanini family ordered their Ideal with a CVT transmission. “Not a lot of headers offer this and we wanted it. The machine figures itself out, and we no longer have to select gears.”

Fendt’s IdealHarvest system also gets a tick of approval from Robert. “In that mode the machine controls everything based on the operator’s priorities.”

With IdealHarvest, the operator sets the harvest strategy (for example to minimise grain damage, minimise grain loss or minimise mog in the bin). Robert usually opts to minimise grain loss, followed by grain quality.

“It takes photos of the grain before entering the bin and then it will vary its settings if the grain is not up to standard.

“There is a lot of tech in this machine. It has remote access for the dealer to see any alarms or potential faults, and they can be rectified remotely.”

The Fendt cab was already familiar to Robert because his previous harvester was an AGCO Gleaner, and he chose a joystick over a steering wheel.

“A joystick doesn’t sound like a big deal, and I thought it probably wouldn’t be, but it is. At the end of the day you come home more relaxed – you haven’t been bent over the wheel, and you don't have that obstruction. You sit back and relax.”

Efficiency boost

Photography by Vince Bucello, Midstate Video Productions

Their Fendt Ideal is improving efficiency for the Armanini family in a number of ways – the front is wider, grain losses are minimal, the engine is fuel-efficient.

Add to this the 17,000-litre grain tank. It takes 12 tonnes of wheat or 9-10 tonnes of rice. “It is a massive bin,” Robert says.

This means less time spent unloading. It is particularly useful in the rice fields, where it may be too wet for trucks or tractors to get in, so the harvester can only unload at the end of a run.

“Unloading takes 80-seconds via a large-diameter auger. This was another valuable feature. We wanted a machine with big augers, operating at slower speeds to improve our rice grain quality.”

The Armanini family have been purchasing AGCO harvesters since the 1980s. Their local dealer Serafin Ag Pro introduced them to the Fendt Ideal.

“The dealer has been great, and the AGCO people have always been very helpful.”

Robert says parts are readily available. “If they are not in store, then they arrive overnight.”

The Armanini family has ordered another Fendt Ideal 8T harvester which will arrive in spring. They have ordered the 2023 model with the 4WD and high wear package options.

They are happy customers. “I believe this machine with the dual helix rotors provides us with the best way to achieve low harvest losses, particularly in rice.

“For cereals and rice timing is everything. When it is ready it has to come off. You need the capacity and efficiency. This Fendt Ideal 8T has satisfied all our harvest requirements.”