A new windrow merger that offers versatility, is gentle on the crop and “leaves a very nice windrow” will be introduced by H&S Manufacturing in 2012, said Jim Kappel, its product development group manager.

Kappel spoke at the Wisconsin Custom Operators annual conference in January.

“We’re doing more durability testing on it this summer, but it will be available for the 2012 production season. It’s a very user-friendly merger,” he said.

Called the Tri-Flex, the merger comes in 30’ and 35’ sizes and is controlled by a Controller Area Network (CAN) Bus system. CAN Bus, commonly used in automobiles and tractors, uses sensors to connect a machine and its electronic controls, which increases efficiency. It also allows the company to fine-tune a merger just for the customer, Kappel said.

The floatation of each pickup head, supported by long, durable skid shoes, can be individually adjusted from the cab, he added.

In one field test harvesting 12-ton/acre ryegrass in Florida, the merger easily maneuvered at 6-7 mph over irrigation tracks that were 18-24” deep in places, the product manager said.

The machine can run up to 10 mph and provide a smooth, consistent windrow.

“We felt we had a decent windrow before and did not want to lose what we had. It surprised a lot of people who have worked with the machine already – the quality is there,” he told the crowd.

“We’ve been in the field with this machine since July 2009. The first full year we logged 15,000 acres on one machine. This past year we handed it over to customers.”

The head has a center cam with short, staggered tine bars. “The timing of them is staggered so, if you never have more than a 5’ tine bar in contact with the ground, it keeps your motor torque at its peak performance. If you put them all straight across and you do get into some tough crop, it will reduce motor efficiency.”

The merger’s unique design allows for “a very smooth transition of crop from one cross conveyor to the other.” Cross conveyors are 42” wide and aren’t fast-moving, Kappel said. “That’s how we leave a nice, fluffy, untangled windrow.”

Transport width is 11.5’ for both models. When folded for transport, the steering is locked out, which makes it “feel like you’re pulling a two-wheel trailer,” he added.

H&S Manufacturing is located in Marshfield, WI.