When it comes to mowing silage, each farmer or contractor will have their own opinion on which is the best mower.
There's plenty of options out there depending on what your budget might be.
Some want the lowest priced entry level mounted mowers, others want middle of the road trailed mower-conditioners, and some will simply want the Rolls-Royce option.
A recent development for bale silage in particular is dairy farmers opting to mow their own silage in a bid to keep costs down.
The contractor is only being used for actually baling and wrapping the silage.
The disadvantage for farmers taking this route is that they need their own mower, and are usually not inclined to spend more than €15,000 on it.
Being realistic about it, if going down this route you need a decent mower and not just a topper.
I know some farmers who share the price of a good trailed silage mower between them to keep the capital outlay down.
It works well for some, but a word of caution; this is all well and good as long as you get on well with your intended business partner.
Regardless of your preferred brand, it is reasonable to assume the key demands of reliability, affordability and durability need to be met first and foremost.
To give an idea of what's available, this week I had a look at some of the best-selling reasonably priced mowers on the Irish market.
MOUNTED AND TRAILED OPTIONS FROM MALONE
Mayo-based firm, Malone Engineering, have to be considered for their swift growing range of mowers.
The family run company’s ProCut range of mounted disc mowers with Comer beds are pictured. Recently two new additions have joined the ProCut range, namely the 9ft ProCut 900 (foreground in this picture) and the range topping 10ft ProCut 1000 (background).
The Malone mowers have a galvanised frame and use multibank belts in the driveline.
Prices for the ProCut range start from €6,000 plus VAT and have attracted plenty of attention in the last few years. They have developed a good name for being well built and tested in true Irish conditions, and the bigger models in the range have been used for mowing silage.
The ProCut uses heavy duty 4mm knives for cutting, and also comes with easy to fit topping skids to help the mower glide over uneven ground and to prevent scalping.
For those looking for a trailed mower conditioner Malone offers the ProCut 960C, which has a working width of 2.85m and a weight of 2,300kg.
The 960C uses V-type steel conditioners and is shod on 400mm extra wide wheels for good flotation in the field.
MCHALE ENTER MARKET WITH PROGLIDE MODELS
McHale entered the mower market relatively recently, with the Mayo firm’s Pro Glide F3100 front mower and R3100 rear mower featuring three-metre cutter bars with tine conditioners.
The front mower design places the centre of gravity as close as possible to the tractor for responsiveness to uneven terrain, helped by integrated suspension which allows the mowing unit to move independent of the front linkage.
When faced with inclining or declining ground conditions, the cutter bar automatically inclines upwards over bumps, or slants downwards into a dip.
The new rear mowers come standard with the patented ground-following technology, break-back protection, hydraulic ground pressure control and heavy duty bed design. Ground adaptation technology allows an arc of movement from left to right and forward and back movement of the cutter bar.
If the mower hits an immovable object, mechanical break back is triggered. For transportation, the mower folds vertically behind the centre point of the tractor. Transport height is reduced by positioning the mower bed at a 110 degree angle, also preferred for even weight distribution and transport stability — while leaving the driver with a clear rear-view mirror view.
Each mowing disc has a protective shear safety mechanism to protect the drive. Blades are free to spin 360 degrees for self-cleaning and no fouling on the neighbouring knives. The knives orbit with a generous overlap, for a clean cut and smooth flow of cut material to the rear.
The standard equipped steel tine conditioner is adjustable between 700rpm and 1000rpm, and is designed for fast, uniform wilting. When a tine hits a foreign object, it pivots out of the way. Prices are €17,560 plus VAT for the Pro Glide front mower and €15,650 plus VAT for the rear mower.
SIP MODELS FROM FARMEC START AT €5,500
SIP is a fairly new brand of mower available in Ireland over the last couple of seasons, and with starting prices from just €5,600 plus VAT smaller farmers and contractors will certainly be interested.
Farmec Ireland Ltd, the Meath based farm machinery distributors are the importer for SIP grass harvesting machinery for the whole of Ireland. The SIP company, with its headquarters in Slovenia, are experts in grass machinery and produce a range of high quality professional mowers, tedders and rakes.
The SIP range includes linkage mounted and trailed disc mowers with working widths ranging from two metres up to nine metres. Mowers can be supplied with or without plastic finger conditioners.
A disc drive safety system is fitted with safety shear pins to protect the cutter bar, allowing the farmer to easily fix the mower in the field.
The mower features an adjustable hydraulic ground pressure relief system that makes mowing in all conditions and terrain possible.
In the transport position the mower is tilted to 120 degrees, bringing the centre of gravity closer to the tractor.
A collision safety system is a key feature; after colliding with an obstacle, this helps to move the cutter bar backwards and upwards out of harm’s way.
KUHN CELEBRATES 50 YEARS OF THE GMD
THIS year marks the 50th anniversary since the first Kuhn GMD disc mower was launched.
The latest generation of GMD machines (available in working widths ranging from 2.6m upwards) offers many of the same benefits as the original machine: an entry-level, affordable and efficient machine.
These mowers are targeted at farmers and contractors, with options available from around €7,500 upwards depending on model.
Features such as the lift control suspension and non-stop safety system ensure excellent ground contouring along with a 31-degree range of travel which maintains a consistent mowing height, even at high forward operating speeds.
It also ensures the machine’s mechanical components are protected against impacts whilst operating on uneven ground by reducing ground pressure and allowing the mower to pivot away from obstacles by up to 25 degrees while also lifting clear of obstructions.
The protect drive system adds a further element of safety by protecting the cutter bar’s internal components, which include Kuhn’s trademark “FastFit” knives, from impact damage.
In the event of a violent impact between a disc and an obstacle, the shaft holding the disc will shear just above the bearing, thanks to a carefully dimensioned shear groove, thereby protecting the disc’s moving parts.
The shaft can subsequently be replaced in less than 15 minutes, reducing downtime and expensive repair bills.
The GMD is also available in an RS version which delivers the forage into a narrow swath to avoid running over cut grass. Kuhn mowing equipment is distributed here by Kuhn Centre Ireland, based in Cork.
Krone has long been at the forefront of the mower market in Ireland. Recently, all mowers have moved to R-series. Stephen Scrivener, marketing manager for Farmhand, Krone importers for Ireland, says this means more features with the same durability. “Whether it is an AMR240 8ft farmer’s machine with prices starting from €6,600 plus VAT, or the BIG M, the technology and the ethos of durability remains largely the same,” he said. “The Krone mower range may be designed and manufactured in Germany, but it has been tried and tested in Ireland.”
Two key features found across the entire Krone mower range are SafeCut and the single mower bed chasing. SafeCut protects the disc and complete driveline, whereby on impact with a foreign object the roll pin shears, allowing the disc to spin up and out of the way of neighbouring discs. Farmhand service manager, TJ Doyle explained: “It is a very solid system. Ten minutes and less than a euro in parts gets you back working and could save thousands in repairs without this protection device.”
Unlike many other mower beds on the market, Krone features a one-piece fully welded casing made of high quality, heavy gauge steel for strength and durability. The wedge shape gives a clean cut, even in lodged crops.
Mounted mowers are becoming increasingly popular but there is still a definite place for trailed mowers. “Trailed mowers are perfect for baler men who have awkwardly shaped fields,” said David Borland, Farmhand Sales Director.
“The trailed mower follows the headland better than a mounted mower can. In addition, less power is required with its short draw bar.”
KVERNELAND OFFERS HYDRAULIC OVERLAP
Kverneland’s latest offering in silage mower territory is the 3336 MT, a 3.6m impressive mounted mower conditioner with a new suspension concept that delivers constant ground pressure and hydraulic adjustment of overlap.
The mowing unit is suspended by four suspension arms that allow it to float independently over the field and adjust accurately to ground contours.
Ground pressure is easily adjusted from the tractor seat, hydraulically and with an easy to read pressure scale on the mower for clear guidance.
During mowing the carrying arm always remains even to the ground, giving the mowing unit the freedom to instantly compensate and float across uneven ground contours.
The advantages are that it leads to less damage and faster regrowth from the stubble and minimum dirt into the crop. When lifting the mower on headlands, only the mowing unit is raised, while the headstock remains in a fixed position. This provides the 3336 MT with a level ground clearance of 500mm across the full working width.
Being able to adapt to changing field conditions on the go is key. Kverneland says the 3336 MT will allow you to do this with the new concept for hydraulic adjustment of overlap.
The adjustable overlap is designed as a telescopic arm in the mower’s suspension; adjusting the overlap is done hydraulically from the tractor cab. This enables you to increase the overlap on the combination when opening up fields or working in odd shaped plots, and reduce overlap when doing straight passes.
Starting retail price for this latest Kverneland mower is €19,600 plus VAT.