Dubliner at the wheel of Krone's Big M 450 as Nationwide demo tour continues


How's she cuttin’?: Ben Buckley puts the Krone Big M 450 through its paces
How's she cuttin’?: Ben Buckley puts the Krone Big M 450 through its paces
Ben Buckley
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

With his Krone Big M 450 self-propelled silage mower cutting its way across the country on demonstration, we caught up with demo driver and Dublin native Ben Buckley (right) to chart his progress.

DC: First off, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

BB: I'm from South Dublin, so not farming at home myself. However, I have always travelled down to spend time working on my uncle's dairy farm near Mallow when I get the chance.

How did you come to be driving the demo Big M 450 mower?

Ben Buckley
Ben Buckley

As soon as I got my provisional licence, I began working for Coolmona Agri Services. They cover a large dairy area, so mostly I was drawing silage, spreading slurry and reseeding. From this, I chose to study Agricultural Engineering at IT Tralee.

At this year's FTMTA in Punchestown, I found out Farmhand were looking for a demonstrator to drive the Big M 450. Delighted to hear this, I jumped at the opportunity and shortly after being interviewed, I joined the team at Farmhand!

What places have you visited on the demo tour so far?

I started in Waterford on the home farm of O'Donnell's crisps. From there, I moved towards Kilkenny, across Tipperary, to Cork and into Limerick. At that point, first cuts in the south of the country were becoming scarce, so we loaded up and headed west. We've spent the last two weeks covering Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Leitrim.

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What have the conditions been like?

So far, it has been a great summer for demonstrating the Big M 450, with the weather conditions so good we have had very little down time. There has been some difference in silage across the country and after completing over 30 demonstrations, I can certainly say the west of Ireland has shown the heaviest cuts.

What has impressed you the most on your tour?

For a small country, you really wouldn't realise the quality of machinery across all counties. Turns out you're never too far from an 828 Fendt or a 6250R John Deere!

What are people saying about the machine?

In the first 10 minutes of each demonstration, I get positive feedback in terms of visibility, power and user-friendliness. Everyone is surprised at how agile the Big M is for a large machine.

As one man put it, "for a Dublin Jackeen you're well able to handle her in a tight spot" as I slipped through what looked like a 10ft gap between two stone walls.

Finally, when we finish and it's time to top up the tank, the contractors always start smiling when they see how economical the Big M is.

Any negative feedback?

After moving from softer soils of Roscommon down into Cork, I noticed the machine was not mowing as cleanly as it should. I examined the conditions and realised that the harder ground was causing the mower to rise in rougher parts of the field.

So I edited the ground pressure settings via the touch screen monitor and increased the weight of the mower beds on the ground. This obtained the clean results I had been achieving previously in the space of 20 seconds.

What is your favourite feature of the machine?

After mowing 1,200 acres, I can definitely say that the cruise control feature on the joystick, coupled up with the TopCon GPS system, makes light work of mowing with the Big M 450. Instead of looking to your left or right hand side, the GPS allows you to scan the ground evenly ahead and spot any foreign objects before it's too late.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on the demo?

While mowing with one contractor, I encountered one of the heaviest crops so far. I asked the contractor would we be mowing it out flat or grouping it. "Grouping it, of course," he replied. We finished mowing the 30-acre field and I commented that his harvester would know all about picking those monster swarths. "Oh don't worry, I won't be picking them at all, we only do the mowing here," he said. "A rival contractor bales this every year!" He informed me that they usually mow it in 10ft swarths for him, but this year he will be tackling 32ft of Ireland's heaviest first cut in one swarth with his brand new baler.

Where are you off to next?

For the week ahead, I will be covering all of County Cork, moving up along the midlands and finally to the North of Ireland.

Indo Farming

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