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BiG Times Issue 6

BIG X SHOWS ITS METAL

BIG X SHOWS ITS METAL Stephen Horsley with his BiG X 700 in first cut silage Quality harvesting, increased throughput and significant fuel savings have been enjoyed by contractor Stephen Horsley in his first season with a Krone BiG X 700 forage harvester. Horsleys of Abbeytown provide an arable and grass contracting service within a 25 mile radius of their Cumbrian base, chopping 3,350ha of grass, 500ha of wholecrop and 400ha of maize. For 2016 Stephen Horsley purchased the Krone BiG X 700, keeping his old forager as back-up. “We had a number of Krone foragers on demo and then tried the BiG X 480 prototype, but we eventually decided on a higher powered BiG X to put most of our acreage through.” One feature that really appealed was Krone’s 28 knife MaxFlow drum, giving a fine enough chop for wholecrop rye destined as feedstock for an anaerobic digester but also featuring three-bolt attachment for the blades. “The blades are just so easy to change or adjust, it’s a big time saver.” Once in the field, the BiG X 700 really started to shine. “We have a four rotor rake for grass and you do get lumps in the swath, but the BiG X handles them really well. It also produces as quality chop regardless of the conditions – it is very good in the wet, and while we found that our other forager couldn’t chop dry grass short, the forager has no problems, it’s really consistent.” The BiG X 700 features Krone’s VariStream system which connects the springloaded chopping drum floor to the anvil of the counterblade at the front. Clearance between the drum floor and the blade is maintained regardless of movement to compensate for an uneven crop flow, ensuring a consistent chop. Workrates average 100ha/day, and Mr Horsley has found that using one powerful forager not only saves on labour but also on fuel, with the BiG X using 4.5l/ha less diesel than the previous machine. Long hours in the cab are a feature of the forage harvest, but Mr Horsley praises the BiG X’s ‘comfortable, user-friendly, quiet cab’. “There’s also a good auto-lube system so maintenance is minimal which help’s at such a busy time. We find the BiG X very easy to operate – you can fine tune chopping to suit changing conditions throughout the day just at the touch of a button.” And when the forage and grain harvest seasons cross over, the workload can be tough on drivers, but Mr Horsley says that the BiG X has certainly eased the burden this year. Reliability is an important consideration for a contractor and Mr Horsley comments that his forage harvester has performed consistently. “Any queries were quickly sorted either by Krone’s area managers or by our local dealer. We had enjoyed very good back-up with our previous forager and that is particularly important to us - Carrs Billington has done an excellent job.” He comments that he tends to keep a forager for three years and that when the time comes to replace it, Krone will once again be top of the list. “We have been very impressed with the performance and toughness of this machine – we would say that it is ‘built out of metal’!” The BiG X 700 making light work of whole crop with an X Discdirect cut header 12

BIG PACK BALER IS THE BUSINESS FOR STRAW ENTERPRISE With straw as an important part of the business, reliable, productive balers are essential for Warwickshire farming partnership HG Heath and Sons. A Krone BiG Pack 1290 HDP joined the fleet in 2015 and has been so successful that customers are asking for it by name, and Robert Heath is considering adding a second Krone baler for next year. Newbridge Straw Products Ltd is the main outlet for the 45,000-50,000 bales Mr Heath and his team make each year. Straw is processed, dust extracted and packed into small bales for the horse bedding market. The majority comes from HG Heath and Sons’ own 1000ha but is also purchased in the swath from local farms. “Oilseed rape straw is the key ingredient in the bedding so we will also advertise locally for straw,” comments Mr Heath. “It is becoming more difficult to get straw in some areas as prices are low and farmers are opting to chop and plough in. But on the other side, having your straw baled means you can get on and cultivate ahead of the next crop more quickly, and removing straw provides improved growing conditions for following crops such as rape which are susceptible to slug damage. Another benefit is in removing weed seeds from the field rather than Mr Heath cultivating them in.” Bales are also made on behalf of customers and are stored for sale at the farm near Shipston on Stour, while haylage is another important product. The family has used its expertise to develop the Heath bale chaser range for high speed collection and transport of big bales, successfully marketed for many years by Big Bale Co (North). Two sizes of bale are preferred: 4x4ft section Hesstons and 4x3ft section ‘mini Hesstons’, both 8ft long made by a fleet of six balers, and this year Mr Heath decided to have a demonstration of the Krone BiG Pack 1290 HDP. “We have always used a different brand, but our local dealer FN Pile and Sons gave a very good demonstration in which we saw how smoothly the Krone baler runs and how straightforward the design is.” He adds that FN Pile and Sons were able to offer a very good price and provide good back up, and trips to the Krone factory for Robert, his brother Chris and cousin Peter to see the parts support and build quality clinched the deal. “Avoiding downtime is a significant issue for us, and the support has already proved itself – parts ordered one day are at the dealer for 7am the next morning and FN Pile and Sons have bent over backwards to help us,” Mr Heath says. And in its first season the Krone BiG Pack 1290 HDP has performed well. “The baler has a larger flywheel than most which means that there is no ‘surge’ and baling is much smoother,” he comments. “Krone’s use of dog clutches, rather than a slip clutch also protects the baler better and minimises the risk of blockages.” Mr Heath points to the use of shaft drive rather than chains for durability and the tandem axles which travel well on rough ground as other pluses. Krone’s Delta controller gives easy control of baling functions for operator Albert Fox, allowing bale length to be adjusted and providing a record of moisture levels. “It’s easy to swap between the different tractors, without too many wires to attach,” says Mr Heath. The baler is mainly pulled by a 360hp MF8690, but can also run on a 200hp tractor, which Mr Heath says is useful at busy periods. “Reliability is as important as performance as baling is so weather dependent,” he comments. “Our customers have praised the bales made by the Krone and have even asked for it by name.” Outputs can be as much as 500 bales a day depending on the crop and on field sizes. Mr Heath finds the ability to alter density at the press of a button particularly useful: “We aim for a bale weight of 450-500kg for our own use, but most customers prefer 400kg bales. We can also adapt to conditions – unless the straw is top quality, bales can be a little ‘waddy’ with a tendency to get dusty and overheat if you try and put too much in.” “We may also need to alter density at different times of day – this season we were able to continue baling later into the evening before it became too damp.” Maintenance is minimised by the AutoLube system, but Mr Heath is careful to blow the baler down at least once a day to avoid transferring black-grass seeds between farms. Balers are generally kept in the fleet for 4-5 years with avoiding downtime and breakdowns considered more important than resale value. And a second Krone baler may join the fleet for next season. “One of the reasons we chose the high density baler was to guarantee a stronger machine that would stand up to the workload. But the build quality of the Krone is so good that we feel a standard baler would do the job on lighter bales, and it is certainly under consideration for 2016.” The BiG pack 1290 HDP comfortably produces 500 bales per day, with a target weight of 450 - 550 kg, depending on field size and conditions 13