The opportunity to view some of the latest products from Collings Bros’ April open day
Farmers and contractors from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire enjoyed the opportunity to view some of the latest products from a wide range of suppliers at Case IH main dealer, Collings Bros’ early April open day. David Williams reports.
The annual open day at Collings Bros’ Abbotsley branch was well attended by new and existing customers keen to find out about the latest models from many leading brands.
The dealer has three branches; Brigstock in Northants, Chatteris in Cambs and its headquarters at Abbotsley near the Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire border. Along with Case IH, main franchises include Merlo, Kuhn, Great Plains, Lely, Reco, Bomford as well as many other suppliers.
The three branches serve growers with a range of soil and farm types so machines from across the ranges of all the brands represented are in demand. The annual open day takes place the week before Easter and is always popular with customers keen to find out what is new and to speak with manufacturer and dealer staff regarding features and benefits of the various models.
Case IH precision farming specialist Ross MacDonald is pictured in the cab of a Quadtrac 620. Promoting the range of precision farming products available from Case IH he explained that a new service was to be made available by the manufacturer during the next few months, providing improved availability of a correction signal wherever the machine is working. AFS-RTK Plus is available across Europe, including the UK and uses existing base stations as well as new masts which have been installed in areas where reception was weak. A roaming sim-card is used to access the system which enables users to work almost anywhere in the UK without having to change networks. Existing systems are compatible, as long as they are sim-card based and the only requirement is that settings are changed to find the new network through the Case IH servers. Cost is #800 per year and the network will be available from late April.
Further news from Case IH on precision farming products is the availability of Stage 4 Pumas direct from the factory with systems to suit any type of correction signal – currently only Omnistar systems are available. “Demand for these products is increasing,” explained Ross, “and our systems ensure maximum accuracy and optimal reliability.”
The V-Form OSR Micro Wing oilseed rape drill and Contour HZ horizontal-folding rolls were on show in the Cousins display area. “Many customers already have the V-Form subsoilers and an advantage of Cousins’ design is that the standard legs can be swapped for Micro-Wings allowing rape to be drilled with an existing machine,” explained Collings Bros sales representative Peter Chessum (left), pictured with Cousins product specialist David Howard. “Results have been excellent, particularly if the zonal roller has been fitted at the rear providing consolidation in the areas required. Almost every farm I visit has at least one piece of Cousins equipment and the rolls and cultivators have a reputation for lasting forever.”
New Turbofarmer 2 telescopic handlers from Merlo were on show. Launched in 2014, the latest machines feature modular construction which means they have superb lift capacity and reach, but compact dimensions maximising manoeuvrability and convenience in tight working areas, explained Merlo area sales manager James Allen (left), who is pictured with Tony Fincham and the new machines. “They have been welcomed by users for their more spacious cabs and the cab suspension which is unique to our range, and available on many models. The new machines feature higher lift capacities and there is a new CV Tronic transmission option available which offers improved versatility over the standard hydrostatic unit. We are displaying two of the models which are proving most popular in this area – the TF42.7 with 4.2t capacity and 7m lift height and the TF38.7 which will lift 3.8t to 7m, both with the optional cab suspension,” he explained.
Kuhn products from across the manufacturer’s extensive range are sold by the dealer and area sales manager Paul Gregory is pictured with Collings Bros sales representative Rebecca Baker. “The brand has a reputation for being strong and reliable,” said Rebecca, “and that is certainly apparent when we are in discussion with farmers regarding new machines. The fertiliser spreaders are particularly popular, and when potential customers are deciding which brand to buy, the variable rate application and border control available from Kuhn appeals. There is excellent compatibility with Case IH tractors too, as the Isobus systems allow easy set-up and operation from the tractor controls.”
Other products in demand from the brand include the bale shredders. “The Primor 3570M is a real favourite, and the Comfort kit which is currently free and includes hydraulic beater bar control making it easy to switch between round and square bales, and the remote back door, which makes it easy to load, makes it ideal for the many beef and turkey farms in the area,” she added.
“Collings Bros represents our brand over a large area,” said Paul. “It supports the products well and the staff are always open to new ideas and concepts and very proactive with a strong focus on the brand.”
It was the first public UK showing of Great Plains’ Centurion 600 grain and fertiliser drill. Pictured with the new model, which was launched at Sima, are Great Plains area sales manager Jason Weston (left) with Collings Bros sales representative Pete Chessum who is based at Abbotsley. “We have had a very successful spring demonstration campaign,” said Jason, “and interest has been from those wanting to use it for direct drilling with the optional turbo-discs, as well as within a conventional cultivations regime. Other options such as the soil razor discs which have a sharper fluted edge to cut through heavy trash are also available, extending its versatility.”
“We have many requests for demonstrations during autumn,” said Peter. “Features such as the ease of filling and straightforward operation as well as the simple calibration procedure appeal, and the results have been excellent with the equal weight transfer across the coulters and the tyre press over the working width which ensures even germination and reduces headland compaction. I am looking forward to seeing it in action on customers’ farms this autumn.”
RTK Farming sales and support specialist PJ Walker is pictured with a display highlighting the services offered by the company. “We have been working with Collings Bros for approximately three years,” said PJ. “We work with the highest levels of precision and are well-established in East Anglia but are extending our network to cover the area north to the Humber and south to the M25. A large number of contractors use and like our service because, although they usually work in a confined area, there will be occasions when they are working further afield and our network gives them the continuation of service they require. The service costs #500 per tractor per year and most users move the kit between machines depending on the season for optimal benefit.
“We specialise in providing a reliable signal and ensure large overlap between areas, so that if a base station is out of action for any reason, there will usually be an alternative which can be used, covering the same area. We are noticing significantly increased demand from users in the east of England,” he added.
Weaving’s Sabre and standard Tine drills are creating considerable interest with the dealer’s customers according to Weaving Machinery sales manager Carl Humphries who is pictured (right) with Collings Bros sales representative John Northern, based at the dealer’s Brigstock branch. “Usually potential customers will be keen to see the drills operating on their own land, but the performance is such that demonstrations usually result in sales,” explained Carl. “The quality of the product, the finished result as well as the price and the back-up available means the drills are an excellent package and the area represented by Collings Bros includes a mix of farms of all sizes and soil types so there is demand across our range.”
A new product displayed was the Weaving rotary ditcher, designed to be mounted on a hedgecutter arm. “The dealer has sold quite a few in the first year of availability,” explained Carl, “and demand has been such that it is now kept in stock. It throws soil up to 3m through an adjustable chute and has an 80cm working width. It is designed for left-handed use so is ideal for UK roads, and is priced at #2,680 which includes a two-year warranty,” he added.
John explained that he has experienced considerable success for Weaving’s new Big Disc drill, particularly in the area served by the Brigstock depot through which several machines have already been supplied. “The lack of soil disturbance means it is a great weapon in the fight against black-grass,” he said, “and crops established late in the autumn, giving time for black-grass control ahead of drilling, are looking good.”
Sales of Richard Western trailers remain strong, according to Collings Bros area sales representative Chris Smith who is based at the dealer’s Chatteris branch and who is pictured (left) at the open day with Richard Western marketing manager Michael Murray. “The clever monocoque design means the trailers are strong but very light allowing users to make the most of available capacity,” said Chris. “The 14t grain trailer remains the most popular with our customers but we are seeing increasing sales of 16 and 18t versions and increased interest in larger tri-axle models with 20-24t capacity.”
Mark Chapman of Chapman Farms, Ellington, Cambs is pictured (left) with Bomford area sales manager Craig Whiting, and Rebecca Baker who looks after the Chapman’s account, along with Bomford products on show.
Mark commented that the back-up his family receives from the dealer and its staff is very good which, together with the performance of his current 20-year old 5.5m-reach Bomford hedgecutter, has encouraged him to purchase a new Hawk 6.5m telescopic version. “The existing machine has done us well,” he explained, “but the extra reach of the replacement will be a big help to us and the extra head power; 75hp compared with the previous 45hp, will make quite a difference. The new Hawk will be used to maintain verges and hedges around the 1,200 acres of arable crops we farm and we have ordered it with the optional electric controls having had a demonstration, arranged by Rebecca. The ease of control impressed us and we feel the benefits easily justify the extra cost,” he added.
Access platforms continue to generate many enquiries, according to Cherry Products director Graham Cherry. “We have sold a very large quantity during 2014 and so far in 2015,” he said, “as farmers become more aware of their obligations under Health & Safety legislation. We provide a galvanised finish as standard specification and supply them with mounting brackets, a self-closing gate and a tool shelf. We offer versions from 1.2m, suitable for one person, to 3.0m wide and suitable for two people to work, and they are proving popular across the country.” Other products creating interest are push-off buck rakes which, Graham said, are well made and good value and easy to use, incorporating a very efficient design.
Graham is pictured (left) with local farmer Mr Millard, from Caxton, Cambs, who has recently ordered a Cherry Products bale grab through the dealer. “We were looking for something similar and were aware that other local farms have purchased the Cherry Products model, and are getting on well with it and having seen one working for ourselves, we were very impressed,” explained Mr Millard. “We do quite a lot of business through Collings Brothers and bought a new Case IH 434 baler last year. Our sales representative, Peter Chessum, looks after us very well.”
The open day was an opportunity to compare balers on offer from franchises including Case IH, Kuhn and Lely.
On-hand to assist visitors to the open day were dealer staff and representatives from the main franchises. Pictured with some of the Case IH products shown were (l-r) Ben Wood, John Northern, Chris Hinton, David Redman, Peter Smith, Chris Smith, Matthew Pratt, Ross MacDonald, Peter Chessum, Rebecca Baker, Tony Fincham and Richard Beadman.