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The Fendt IDEAL Combine

AGCO engineers listened to farmers and contractors around the world to create an all-new, global combine capable of gentle, efficient, high-capacity harvesting of 35 different crops. The Fendt IDEAL has the industry’s fastest unloading system, the visibility and comfort of the unique IDEALdrive joystick and the time-saving convenience of AutoDock for in-cab header connection.

The Helix Processor of the Fendt IDEAL includes the longest rotor in the industry, a 16-foot-long (4.9-meter-long) innovation that helps give the operator:

• maximum output
• high grain and straw quality
• an excellent, clean grain sample
• less grain loss
• lower power consumption

The IDEAL Combine | Our Customers' Challenges

Beginning in 2012, AGCO set out to learn what customers around the world needed to better harvest their crops in tight time windows—what the “ideal” combine would be, and improvements needed over what they had at the time. From these in-depth interviews, our global development team put together a list of customer priorities from the different regions and surveyed an even wider group of farmers and contractors to validate the list.

Our team confirmed that customers wanted a combine that would:

• Use less fuel

• Handle multiple high-yield crops in tough conditions

• Have large capacity to cover more acres in less time

• Produce high-quality grain with a clean sample and low losses

• Unload faster to save time and manpower

• Be reliable and easy to maintain and repair

• Lessen soil compaction

• Be comfortable and easy to use

• Manage residue better

• Fit safely on roads for transport, especially in Europe

While customers the world over had many needs in common, it was clear that a global combine would need to work in very different conditions depending on the region, and handle a wide range of crops with equal care. Conversations with customers continued, helping us refine, update and prioritize needs throughout the six years of development.

A Prototype IDEAL Wrapped in a "Zebra" Design

The IDEAL Combine | From the Ground Up

AGCO made the bold decision to meet these challenges with a totally new, global combine platform.

Not only did the global design team start with a “clean sheet” to create the first all-new axial combine design in 30 years, but it did so in a unique way to ensure that the voice of engineering was taken into account from all regions. While the core engineering lead was in Breganze, Italy, the team split the vehicle into modules to be designed by AGCO engineers around the world. Even using English as a common language, the task was monumental, considering differences in time zones, native languages, cultures, thought processes and interpretation of feedback.

For example, the cabin, electrical and unload systems were designed in Hesston, Kansas. The feeder-house and residue system design leads were based in Brazil. The cleaning, processing and drive systems were jointly designed between Randers, Denmark, and Breganze. The transmission came from the Valtra factory in Suolahti, Finland, and the track undercarriage was designed and tested in Jackson, Minnesota, by the same engineering team which worked on AGCO track tractors. Actually, some of the first testing of the IDEAL tracks were conducted on a Challenger MT900 articulated tractor in Jackson before becoming part of IDEAL.

AGCO pulled together a global cross-functional team of harvesting experts from each region, representing design, engineering, field testing, manufacturing, service, parts, purchasing, marketing and more. The team traveled great distances to meet face-to-face at the beginning, building comradery and sharing the collective knowledge needed to create new global solutions.

As the team was just starting to sort through how to accommodate the many differences in market needs, a new member rolled up his sleeves and joined in. Eric Hansotia, now chairman, president and CEO of AGCO Corporation, brought years of agricultural experience to his job as senior vice president of global harvesting. Teammates credit him with asking the right questions and providing clarity that helped define the scope of project, and Mr. Hansotia continues as a champion of the Fendt IDEAL to this day.

The IDEAL Combine - Helix Processor

Designing solutions to meet customer needs that worked together and not against each other was like solving a giant puzzle. For example, how would the design team increase harvesting speed and processing capacity while achieving greater fuel efficiency and improving grain quality, yet without making the combine too big for road transport? Which type of processing would be best?

After looking at different lengths, diameters and configurations of rotors, the team hit on using a rotor that was 2 feet (61 centimeters) longer than ever before attempted—a full 16 feet (4.9 meters)—and found that by placing the tines in a unique helix pattern, it would use 20% less power. The added length and allows more space and time to do the threshing. Since the crop mat is not being compressed, both the grain and the straw are protected from damage during processing.

The IDEAL Combine - Cyclone Cleaning System

The long rotor also helped solve the challenge of increasing capacity in a narrower combine package that would fit on European roads. Putting two of the rotors side by side as the Dual Helix Processor provides the high capacity needed in the Fendt IDEAL 8, IDEAL 9 and IDEAL 10 models; a Single Helix is used in the IDEAL 7. The longer wheelbase delivers a more comfortable feel and ride.

Keeping the combine narrow with long rotors created new design challenges, such as how to fit a matching cleaning system beneath them and a larger grain tank over them without widening the machine. The team used its creativity to design the Cyclone Cleaning system with the longest top chaffer in the industry.

Narrow Transport on Tight Roadways

The IDEAL Combine - Bumps Along the Way

The process of creating an all-new combine was not without misadventures. In making room for the cleaning system, the grain tank—enlarged to an industry-leading 485 bushels—was moved up and outward in the initial design. While testing a very early prototype, the operator reached the end of the field with the huge grain tank full of corn. While coming to a somewhat hard stop and lifting the corn head, the combine tipped forward until the back axle came off the ground! So, it was back to the drawing board; the weight had to be moved back while keeping the high capacity.

In combination with the large grain tank came the need for an increased unload rate that would extend the efficiency of the combine to the rest of the harvest operation, just as customers had requested, but without sacrificing grain quality. Through lab testing, the team found that grain quality remained the highest when the grain wasn’t flowing faster than 9.8 feet (3 meters) per second. So rather than design a system that simply sped up the augers, they increased the diameter of the auger tubes to a full 19 inches (48 centimeters) in diameter while spacing the flighting of the augers wider than normal to allow more grain-on-grain contact.

The resulting new Fendt Streamer 6.0 system gives IDEAL the fastest unloading speed in the industry—6 bushels a second—yet its large-tube/wide-flighting design protects the integrity and quality of the cleaned grain. The speed means operators can spend more time harvesting while grain carts are filled and back to the trucks faster; the quality means less dockage at the elevator and happier end customers.

The IDEAL Combine

The largest grain tank in the industry with quick upload speeds.

The IDEAL Combine | TODAY

Having achieved its goal of a single global platform, Fendt introduced the IDEAL combine in 2018, with the first commercial sales in 2019. As customers began to use the combine, they welcomed the ability to harvest more high-quality grain in less time with less grain loss while using less fuel.

IDEAL owners praise being able to unload at nearly twice the speed as before. They report using from 20% to 25% less fuel than with other combines while harvesting more crop per hour with fewer stops to refuel. They are pleased with the undamaged, clean grain along with high-quality straw they can use for additional income. With the ActiveSpread SwingFlow tailboard, operators can customize residue management to enhance soil health and emergence of the following crop.

Around the world, producers using IDEAL combines are able to harvest multiple types of crops with very few changes needed in between. Because they held to a single global platform rather than design regionally based combines, the development team was able to test IDEAL prototypes year-round as crops ripened in each region, cutting the normal time to test, reiterate, design, test again and validate solutions in half. It also ensured IDEAL was put to the test and that solutions were found in the harshest operating conditions in each region to deliver a superior harvest experience for all. From the start, Fendt technical support teams responded to all customer concerns and made the enhancements needed to reduce downtime and increase crop throughput, and they still do today.

The IDEAL Combine | Leading the Industry

Even when IDEAL was first introduced, Fendt was already designing additional innovations to meet more of what customers had challenged them to provide.

Knowing how fatiguing it can be to operate a combine for long hours, an innovative new Fendt option removes the steering wheel and replaces it with IDEALdrive, the only joystick steering system offered by a combine manufacturer. Available on all tracked models, IDEALdrive provides unsurpassed visibility of the header and field ahead while allowing operators to sit back and put their feet up. Without the need to reach up for a steering wheel at each turn, they feel fresher at the end of the day.

For operators who change fields often, header transport is time-consuming and labor intensive. As an alternative, Fendt AutoDock is the only header docking system that automatically couples and uncouples in 5 seconds from the cab with a push of a button. No more climbing up and down the ladder and walking around long headers to manually connect PTO shafts and electrical connectors or engage the header lock. Those minutes saved add up to hours and days of extra time to be actively harvesting, while increasing operator safety.

More time savings come from the simple design, with all systems driven by a single drive center gearbox connected to the engine, using fewer belts and chains than other combines. Operators and mechanics alike have fewer points to check or maintain, all on the exterior of the machine and easy to access.


After more than 10 years of research, development, testing—and now years of successful retail sales—the IDEAL story is still just beginning. The future of our farmer partners and the way they farm is the focus of the next evolutions of the IDEAL combine.

Soon farmers will see significant advancements in the operator environment, allowing users to configure the navigation and applications to their own preferences. Advancements in automatic crop settings and throughput controls will increase ease of use and efficiency. Processor designs will evolve to achieve even higher levels of throughput with cleaner samples, all while being easier to set. New technologies integrated into the harvesting process will yield even more agronomic benefits to the following crop. Drives will become stronger and more efficient. Data collection will become easier and more accurate—all while we continue to listen to farmers.