The "green thumb on wheels".

Unimog U 530: Agricultural work with Raiffeisen.

For agricultural products cooperative Raiffeisen-Warengenossenschaft Hildburghausen, a member of the Saxony/Thuringia regional agroservice association, it's literally all about growth: Because the organisation's customers are farmers, who rely on achieving good harvest yields.

Good crop growth: Unimog U 530 with all-wheel drive and a manure spreader.

Powerfully yet carefully, the new all-rounder in the fleet of agricultural products cooperative Raiffeisen-Warengenossenschaft Hildburghausen circles around a field near the town of Hildburghausen in Thuringia. The fact that it is operating here and now is mainly down to the determination of the organisation's managing director Eberhard Tanzberger. It was about three years ago that he Morlockand a number of colleagues from around eastern Germany visited the Mercedes-Benz factory in Wörth in order to find a technical solution to a challenge his customers had set him.

The objective was to acquire a high-performance vehicle for manure spreading which in Tanzberger's experience would be more suitable than the self-driving unit that was in use at the time. And Raiffeisen was impressed by the Unimog U 500 already forming part of its fleet. In addition, Eberhard Tanzberger was looking for a vehicle that would destroy as little crop as possible when spreading at 18 metre width – both on the straight and when manoeuvring.

Future-oriented extras that inspire.

Last August, following an intensive period of consultation, the day finally came: the spreading expert took delivery of his Unimog U 530. The optional extras built-in to his vehicle are ground-breakers in the industry: a steerable rear axle for easy turning in the field, together with the latest-generation tyre pressure control system. The vehicle also features a new radiator layout which means it will not grind to a halt even in extremely dusty conditions. And there is also an on-board data port to manage the high-tech spreading equipment

Further reading: Unimog in agriculture. That's how efficiency works.

And so Eberhard Tanzberger gazes proudly at the green-coloured newcomer to the fleet. "The systems we have at our disposal will deliver a completely new boost to our manure spreading operations – and that is something that many colleagues would be thrilled to have," the expert sums up. An equally important factor for the fleet manager is the fact that he will be able to run his new Unimog at full capacity all year round. The reason is that, while a self-driving unit can only be used for field work, the Unimog provides a high-performance ice and snow clearing facility in the winter months. Eberhard Tanzberger: "Here in the hilly region of the Thuringian forest we often get lots of snow. So we have plenty to do, clearing and spreading in the winter months, when there is no field work."

Manoeuvrable and easy on the ground thanks to all-wheel drive.

The benefits of the agricultural Unimog are obvious. The steerable rear axle avoids unnecessary crushing of valuable crops when moving on to the next 18 metre wide tract: "We had customers in the past who told us not to bother coming again if we couldn't sort out the ground damage issue," Eberhard Tanzberger explains. Thanks to the steerable rear axle, crop damage has been reduced to virtually zero. It enables the rear wheels to move onto track at a wide angle, without destroying the crop – an inestimable benefit. That attribute is also affirmed by Bernd Kambach, Eberhard Tanzberger's regular U 530 driver: "Since we have been using this rear axle system, I can navigate without crushing any crops. And the steering is generally now very much more comfortable and precise. I no longer need as much room to manoeuvre round so as to get straight on track."

We are now virtually fully digital with the Unimog.


Eberhard Tanzberger, fertilizer expert, Raiffeisen-Warengenossenschaft Hildburg­hausen

Simply release air – at the push of a button.

And the tyre pressure control system also provides great protection for the ground. Where the ground is soft, the driver simply lets some air out of the tyres, so increasing traction while at the same time preventing the wheels from sinking into the sensitive soil. The new radiator layout was key in this kind of application: "In dusty spreading operations, especially, the radiator behind the cab often quickly got clogged," Tanzberger recalls.

Powerfully yet carefully: Unimog U 530 is ideal for agricultural use.
Comfortable and precise steering: Unimog U 530 needs less room to to manoeuvre round.
Powerfully yet carefully: Unimog U 530 is ideal for agricultural use.

Future-oriented: digital spreading management.

He is also particularly proud of his spreading unit's digital data port: "It has brought us a giant step closer to our aim of implementing Cloud-based spreading management." Eberhard Tanzberger has in fact been working for years with AgriCon GmbH in Jahna in nitrogen fertilising by sensor and in basal dressing. N-tester and N-sensor analyses in nitrogen fertilising and GPS-aided soil sampling in basal dressing with subsequent analysis enables fertiliser spreading to be adapted precisely to the needs of the crops.

"We are now virtually fully digital with the Unimog," the delighted farming expert reports. In future it will be possible to program the Unimog by software so that it spreads exactly the amount of fertiliser on each piece of ground to ensure the optimum quality of the soil in each area. This will save the farmers a lot of money thanks to the reduction in fertiliser consumption, and as a positive side-effect the ground-water will be much less polluted.

The Unimog offers two additional benefits as a spreading vehicle. Eberhard Tanzberger: "The vehicle has to be reloaded six to eight times on an average spreading day. It is run on the road each time. And the Unimog is not only much faster on the road than a self-driving unit, it also consumes less fuel.

And the smart agricultural entrepreneur reveals a further benefit with a satisfied grin: "The winter service facility provides an additional revenue stream too." Bernd Kambach is also very happy with the newcomer in the fleet: "The tyre pressure control system, especially, is a real bonus, particularly when I'm moving between fields. In winter service, I particularly like that the Unimog can be refitted with different equipment so quickly."

So the "green thumb on wheels" has not only enhanced crop protection, it is also put to use almost every day in the winter in Thuringia. Even though high-tech fertiliser spreading is a profitable business, almost 12 months' unbroken capacity utilisation – including four in winter service operations – undoubtedly makes the agricultural Unimog the top vehicle in the fleet.

Source: Unimog Magazine 2/2017
Text: Christian Bonk
Photos: Henrik Morlock

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