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Michael Ritter, Senior Vice-President Asia, CLAAS Global Sales GmbH, speaks with Far Eastern Agriculture about product innovations and the company’s commitments to sustainable agriculture and environmental awareness

White Background Michael RitterMichael Ritter, Senior Vice President Asia at CLAAS said that to bring about sustainability, the answer is in finding solutions with global impact and addressing issues regionally. (Image source: CLAAS)

Can you tell us about future innovations at CLAAS planned to increase harvest efficiency?

Michael Ritter: We constantly try to improve on our harvesting processes in the areas of efficiency, productivity and comfort. CEMOS is the leading driving and processing assistant for combines and forage harvesters available on LEXION and TRION combines as well as the JAGUAR forage harvesters, and we aim to showcase more innovations in this area at the Agritechnica 2022. Although the performance of combines and forage harvesters have improved a lot over the last few years, there is still potential for further improvement with these harvesting processes. We cannot go into more detail at this moment, but there are some innovations in the pipeline to make our combines and forage harvesters even more efficient and productive in the future.

Where does CLAAS stand on initiatives taken up for environmental awareness?

Michael Ritter: On the product side, we offer the most efficient harvesting machines in the market. Efficient engines, DYNAMIC POWER and CEMOS lead to extremely low fuel consumption, and our implements like mowers and big balers are well known for their low power requirements. CEMOS for tractors can save up to 16% or more on fuel in our existing tractors, even with well-experienced drivers. Our AXION 960 with CEMOS was awarded as ‘Sustainable Tractor of the Year 2021’ about a year ago. Furthermore, our products have a long lifespan, which is also an aspect that helps with sustainability.

Environmental aspects also played a role in the recent modernisation of our factories in Le Mans for tractors and Harsewinkel that produces combines, JAGUAR forage harvesters and XERION models. For example, our main focus for the modernisation of the combine assembly plant in Harsewinkel was on the new test benches, which were designed to recover approximately 75% of the heat generated, keeping in mind our concern for the environment. 

Many smaller projects also carry the potential to save on energy and thus contribute to a better environment. For instance, half of the cabin transports from Hungary to Germany is now run more efficiently with the use of smarter production and logistic technologies. 

Tell us about CLAAS’ plans to showcase future products on the global stage?

Michael RitterIn 2021, we introduced the new TRION combine range with 20 models, new LINER rakes with two and four rotors, new disc mowers and new TORION wheel loaders, with more exciting products planned for the near future. Regarding future technologies, we do not show prototypes or project studies, because we work open to different technologies for several future projects and alternative drives, which we aim to showcase as soon as they are ready for the market.

How has the pandemic affected the company in terms of the implementation of programmes across the world?

Michael RitterCLAAS reacted quite quickly to the pandemic by transferring training and meetings from on-site to digital. Remote working enabled our office employees to keep up and virtual ‘train the trainer’ and training for customers on our products also worked very well, online. So, there have been no big negative effects of the pandemic up until now. Team building and worker onboarding cannot work continously without on-site meetings. Nevertheless, the personal contact with our dealers and our customers is still very important, so we hope to get to the big trade shows and field days in 2022. But CLAAS’s first priority is the health of our employees, dealers and customers.

How does CLAAS plan to implement digital technology onto its harvesting machinery?

Michael RitterWe have already done this for many years, as we are proud to have the leadership in innovations in this area, not only with the different CEMOS systems, but also with solutions like GRAIN CAM, CAM PILOT and TELEMATICS. CLAAS has been integrating digital technology with agricultural machines for over 40 years, first starting with our combines. More of our innovations and technologies will be showcased at the next Agritechnica. 

Tell us about the company’s commitments towards achieving zero food waste and ending global hunger?

Michael RitterIt is important to ensure high yields in areas with fertile soils and good water availability. But facing limited fertiliser resources and a stronger focus on biodiversity, food production still has a lot of room for efficiency and sustainability. One major topic is soil protection, as our soil is not only a sink for carbon but also a living space for many animals, an important water reservoir and a filter for groundwater - and it is a sensitive as well as a finite resource. Avoiding erosion and compaction of our soils is the basis for high and stable yields. With our ‘TERRA TRAC’ technology, we help farmers work with their machines with low ground pressure, added by our CTIC tire inflation systems, available for tractors and JAGUAR forage harvesters.

How important is the role played by harvesting machinery in realising sustainable agriculture for the future?

Michael Ritter: Sustainability is, in our point of view, a task for the whole farming industry. This is true for livestock, arable farming, special cultures - and not only the farming process itself but also the areas of converting and distribution. We need better coordination of regional production on one hand and trading networks and commercial relationships for the world market on the other hand. With respect to harvesting technology, we aim to improve on reducing our carbon footprints with the use of new drive technologies and e-fuels. This will further reduce losses and we aim to bring more solutions to damage weed seeds during the harvesting process. 

Another important aspect is to measure not only the yield but also the ingredients – which is already possible with NIRS technologies. Post this, fertiliser application can be done more precisely and fit exactly to the demand of the soil and the follow-up harvest. We think the answer is in finding solutions with global impacts, which is as important as addressing issues regionally.