The 12NT is not only the widest trailed Robocrop Interrow hoe from Garford Farm Machinery in Europe but is believed to be one of the most unusual mechanical hoes ever made, globally.

The British manufacturer has delivered wide trailed hoes to North America and Canada for many years, but not in the UK and Europe due to the difficulty in developing a solution that folds to meet transport regs.

The machine has completed two seasons of hoeing away from prying eyes. The German show has catapulted it under the spotlights to an international audience.

This all changed when a Dutch customer asked if the company would consider a bespoke project to develop a 12m unit that would maintain hoeing accuracy but could legally be moved on the road.

After pondering the options, the 12NT is said to offer a new level of hoeing capacity previously only available on the other side of the Atlantic. Developed in secrecy and ready for action early 2022, after successfully completed two seasons, the unusual hoe was cleaned and polished to make it look like new for its public debut at Agritechnica this week.

Like other Garford hoes, it uses video cameras and image analysis computers, and the twin shift system allows it to follow two x 6.0m drill sections (double the productivity of a 6.0m tractor mounted hoe).

Developing a trailed hoe that folds to a road legal width and height of 3.0m and 4.0m respectively, is due in part to the smaller wheel units which retract for transport folding. The real innovation, though, is the multi-stage variable volume accumulator. This ensures that each time a wheel unit is raised for section control, the oil flow is changed to maintain an even down pressure on the remaining hoeing units in contact with the ground.

Power requirement is around 160hp, and the 12NT has hydraulically powered rear wheels and the axle telescopes in and out from a 3.0m outer tyre width on the road to 3.0m centres in the field. The customer specified a rear linkage for a 12m tine harrow and Garford says that the current 5.0-6.0t lift capacity can be increased.

The steerable rear axle is hydrostatically powered. The VF tyres are of the size 380/105 R54 and the 12NT has air brakes.

The machine on the stand is a roughly €300,000-costing customer specific solution, but the maker reckons it might be asked to make a few more.

And while 12m would appear to be the max to meet road regs, one grower has asked if it is possible to make an 18m (two x 9.0m) version. It is back to the drawing board to see if this is doable.

It is also possible to configure the 12NT for hoeing in cereals when both the weight (approx. 12.5t) and price will be lower. The result should be able to work at a brisk 12-16km/hr.

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