It's a welcome sight and sound for many - the hum of a silage mower opening up that first field of grass.
Keep an eye out this season for an impressive self-propelled machine capable of mowing grass in record time. Valued at a cool €467,000 including VAT and, in good conditions, able to mow up to 42 acres an hour, the vital statistics of Krone's Big M self-propelled silage mower are mind boggling.
Despite its hefty price tag, this machine is proving popular with Irish contractors due to the output it offers for mowing so much grass in a short space of time. Double digit sales numbers for the Big M have been recorded so far in 2020.
The 450 model is the latest incarnation of the Big M mower and follows the success of its predecessor, the M 420. The self-propelled mower is built around a powerful 450hp Liebherr engine with a 9.95m cutting width.
The 12-litre Liebherr engine is Emission Stage 4 compliant and offers extended 1,500-hour service intervals. Some 20 years on since the first Big M was launched at Agritechnica, manufacturer Krone says the stand-out design features of this latest model include a new cab and engine, new running gear and redesigned mower units.
It offers a cutting width of nearly 10m with each pass. In a 10-hour day of cutting in good fields, it is possible for this machine to mow 250-300 acres.
Steel V-tine conditioners on the side mowers are single-piece on this model, which Krone says eliminates the central drive unit and positions the PTO shaft and gearbox on the side - a solution that the German manufacturer says results in more uniform crop flow.
Krone say the mower travels at up to 25km/h in the field and up to 40km/h on the road. Engine speed is 1,250rpm in road mode and 1,650rpm in field mode.
In road mode, the speed is automatically controlled relative to the current ground speed and the load on the engine.
This means the engine is not constantly revving at high speed. It reduces the engine speed automatically when the machine is waiting at a road junction, for example.
Krone importers for Ireland, Farmhand Ltd, says the latest Big M has been received well by Irish contractors.
"We believe the reasons it is selling well are contractors needing to get more work done in shorter harvesting windows where labour is another limiting factor.
"The Big M really shines in small, tight fields, which we have plenty of in Ireland," says Farmhand Marketing Director, Stephen Scrivener.