Proof that it's no country for old machinery
Published 18/05/2016 | 02:30
Last Thursday saw thousands of farmers and contractors head to Gurteen Agricultural College in Ballingarry, Co Tipperary, for the FTMTA Grass & Muck 2016 show. The weather came good just in time, and around 10,000 visitors made their way onsite over the day to see the shiny new machines being put through their paces.
Despite the healthy attendance numbers, it is not turning out to be a good year for sales of grass and muck machinery. The perfect storm of poor milk, beef and tillage prices is starting to effect confidence when it comes to making machinery purchases. Dealers and manufacturers are hoping that a spell of good weather will improve buyer sentiment as we head into the summer.
Tractor sales are the exception, with 1,036 new tractors sold for the first four months of 2016; a 6.5pc increase on the same period last year.
Where this FTMTA event excels is at demonstrating working machinery in realistic Irish conditions. Visitors will have seen a huge range of equipment in action. I walked the show in its entirety and I needed the full day to have a good look at everything. For those who couldn't make it, here are some highlights.
McHale mower conditioner: McHale always put on a good show at these events, so the chance to see the Mayo firm's new ProGlide butterfly combination working in the flesh for the first time proved a great attraction for lots of punters.
Designed to respond to undulating and uneven ground conditions typical of Ireland, the ProGlide adds another bow to McHale's string and sees the firm enhance its already strong line-up of grass machinery.
Kuhn triple mower: Kuhn Centre Ireland showed off their triple gang set up including the all new FC 3125 front mower.
Ideal for high-powered tractors, the front mower is 3.1m wide and is at home as part of a high-powered gang mower set up where the working width can be pushed to 9.5m. The design of the front mower improves operator visibility and offers close ground contour following.
New Holland FR Forager: New Holland demonstrated their new FR Forage Cruiser self-propelled harvester. Engine options, all of which meet Tier 4B emissions standards, range from 476hp up to the flagship massive 824hp 20.1 litre power plant. The five model line-up offers improved operator comfort and one of the largest cutter heads in the industry.
Massey Ferguson 7700 series tractor: Bigger engines, lower maintenance costs and a host of new design features make the Massey Ferguson 7700 series an impressive successor to its 7600 predecessor. Aimed at contractors, there are two transmission options available whichever model you pick - the Dyna-6 with four ranges and six power shifts, and the step less Dyna-VT.
Strautmann Zelon wagon 2901: IAM Machinery demonstrated the new Strautmann Zelon forage wagon suitable for smaller tractors but still boasting many of the features of its larger capacity counterparts.
Nicholas Dunne of IAM said Strautmann wagons use a unique continuous flow rotor system that helps disperse the crop over the entire rotor and knife width. This wagon has been doing well with smaller contractors and farmers.
Samasz silage mower: New at FTMTA Grass and Muck was this butterfly mower arrangement from Samasz.
Giving a total cutting width of over 8.6m, the set up features two KDD 861S mowers on the rear and a KDF 300F mower out front. In total the tractor power demand is about 160hp. Distributed in Ireland by Collins Farm Machinery, the mowers feature heavy-duty frames with Hardox steel beds.
SlurryKat silage trailer: Northern Ireland based firm SlurryKat demonstrated their Proline range of silage trailers. The range features a unique body formation that utilises laser-cut body panels for an accurate fit.
The shape and fit of the side panels helps redistribute the forces exerted on the body of the trailer, sending them downward into the chassis for better stability during transport. The trailer features a single-tipping cylinder for faster emptying.
John Deere 8800i harvester: One of the most impressive machines at the show was this mammoth 845hp top-of-the-range 8800i self-propelled forage harvester from John Deere.
The company claims these harvesters will provide up to 15pc more productivity. A key feature is the active fill control system that allows for automated filling of silage trailers. Each model in the 8800i series can be equipped with Deere's crop analysis system, HarvestLab.
Case Optum 300 tractor: Case IH took the opportunity to show off their new Optum series, thereby filling the size gap between the firm's Puma and Magnum ranges.
There are two models in the line-up, the Optum 270 and 300, both powered by an FPT Industrial 6.7-litre engine. The Optum is only available with a CVX transmission and with the option of either a 40kph or 50kph transmission.
Tanco VariWrap: Carlow firm Tanco worked their new VariWrap3 wrapper at the show.
Aimed at the farmer and contractor market, this is a 900kg three-point linkage mounted machine that can be fitted with either two or three wrapping arms for high output wrapping. It is fitted with the latest easy to use interactive controller with improved graphics display.
Hi-Spec AutoCut trailed mower: Staying with Carlow manufacturers, Hi-Spec surprised the whole industry with the launch of their new trailed mower, the AutoCut RH1050.
Mounted on a chassis that eliminates the weight on the tractor and cuts fuel consumption, the AutoCut also reduces the size of the tractor needed. John Kennedy of Hi-Spec estimates that a 180hp tractor will drive the non-conditioner version of the 10m-wide mower, while 250hp is required for the conditioner model.
Krone ZX 470GL triple-axle wagon: Krone don't do things by halves, and that was evident again at Grass & Muck as distributors Farmhand showed off the huge new ZX 470GL triple-axle silage wagon. With a 400hp rated driveline, Farmhand's David Borland thinks this wagon could be revolutionary in the market.
"We have sold a number of these wagons already, including this one which has been bought by a contractor in Co Meath," he revealed.