Three grassland harvest working events in two weeks provided opportunities for farmers and contractors south of the Thames to see a wide range of machinery in action. David Williams was there.
The demonstrations were held in Kent, Sussex and Surrey in late June and were organised by Case IH main dealer Ernest Doe Power, which represents the brand from branches at Ringmer and Albourne, West Sussex; Hurst Green, East Sussex; Dartford, Kent and Esher, Surrey.
Attracting additional interest was the range of SIP grass harvest machinery, the brand taken on approximately six months ago in mid-winter to replace a previous range and itself new to the UK this year through a manufacturer owned UK subsidiary, after several years of intermittent supply through various independent importers.
Case IH products working included tractors from the Maxxum and Puma ranges, the RB465 round baler and the new RB545 round baler wrapper combination.
The dealer also demonstrated a Manitou telescopic handler and a Marshall bale trailer, both brands for which Ernest Doe Power is a main dealer.
Ernest Doe Power Albourne branch and sales manager, Phil Bush said all three demonstration days were well attended and at least 12 SIP machines were ordered at the events, with sales staff at all branches remaining busy arranging on-site demonstrations and following up enquiries.
“The SIP products were universally well received and feedback from everyone who has seen them has been complimentary,” he said. “Even for our staff, some of who were initially uncertain about taking on a little-known brand, seeing SIP machinery in action was useful, as it allowed them to find out how well the range performs and boosted their confidence when recommending it to long-established customers.
“Obviously many who visited are existing Ernest Doe Power customers currently operating our previous grassland machinery brand, but we also had strong attendance from users of other makes, keen to find out about SIP having heard good feedback from those who had already seen it. Our team is pleased that those who have ordered SIP machines so far have done so despite SIP being a new name to them, purely on the basis that we have faith in the brand,” he added.
The Case IH balers also impressed. “Both the variable and fixed-chamber round balers performed well, producing excellent bales with bale quality remarked upon at all three events,” explained Phil. “There was interest in all the tractors, especially the Puma 175CVX and the ease of baler set-up and use through the in-cab terminal surprised many who tried it.”
The Star 720/22T twin-rotor rake has a 6.60–7.15m working width and creates a swath from 1.30–1.85m. There are 11 tines on each height-adjustable rotor and the rake folds for transport to just 2.55m.
Case IH demonstrator Ed Watson operated the RB545 baler-wrapper and said its design and performance were superb. Operation is by power beyond and all functions including wrapping and discharging the bale are controlled direct from the tractor screen. A 5-bar 2.2m pick-up feeds a large rotor and chopping is selectable, including 0, 10+10 or 20 knives. A drop-floor protects against blockages and the power beyond system responds to increased chamber pressure as bale construction is almost finished, by dropping the knives out of work. This means the bale’s outer layers are formed from un-chopped straw for greater strength and improved weather protection. The operator selects the pressure at which chopping stops on the in-cab screen, to suit the crop and conditions. Chamber rollers are all bearing-free, avoiding damage by grass wrapping in the wet, but rely on effective lubrication from the automatic greasing system.
Net or film can be used, and advantages of film include simple disposal with wrap, rather than having to separate net and wrap layers.
Baler control is through the tractor’s Isobus system, or through an optional Case IH 700 screen, also used to display images from the on-board camera if fitted.
“It’s really easy to operate,” commented Ed. “The screen provides simple settings adjustment on-the-move and operates functions such as holding the bale on the rear table when conditions aren’t appropriate for dropping it. A few of these are out working this season for the first time and performing extremely well.”
Pictured at the event are (l-r) James Worley, Kit Worley and Rheanna Lingham, Ernest Doe Power demonstrator Ken Jennings and Oliver Nicholson who is part of the Case IH demonstration team.
James and Rheanna farm at Higham, Kent and at the time of the demonstration were in the middle of haymaking. Land is grassland for horses and for vegetable production and a feed shop supplies animal feeds, hay and straw bales. “We are interested in the SIP mowers as ours are due for replacement,” explained James. “SIP looks good, it almost looks too simple but that is very much an advantage. Build quality is good too and we know back-up will be reliable from Ernest Doe Power’s Sutton-at-Hone depot.”
David, pictured (left) with SIP sales director Martin Holden deals with the Sutton-at-Hone depot, mainly with Richard Link or Nick Booth and said he receives excellent service.
David Gunn has a small farm at Chelsfield and provides a general contracting service from stubble to stubble across approximately 400ha for other farms in the area. “I have come to see the SIP machines working having previously operated 10 mowers all of one brand,” he said. “I first saw the new range at Ernest Doe Power’s Albourne winter open evening and believe they will be an ideal replacement for my previous make.”
Some of David’s grass is particularly thick and knotty creating problems for his current mowers, so the day after the demonstration he borrowed the rear SIP mower to try and was so impressed he ordered it immediately.
A Wilson & Sons is based at Cudham on the border of Greater London and Kent and Ernest Doe Power’s Dartford depot supplies most of the farm’s machinery. The business is mainly arable growing winter and spring wheats and mustard, and grassland used for livery, with land between two main sites three miles apart. Very narrow lanes make narrow transport width a primary requirement when selecting machinery. Chris and Jodie Tremain, Linda and David Wilson, all from the family farm are pictured (l-r) with Ernest Doe representative Nick Booth and an ex-demonstration Case IH Puma 165, ordered recently and due for delivery to the farm immediately after the demonstration day. “This Puma is just what we need,” explained David. “We also have a Puma 110, but the 165 is the biggest size practical for our lanes, and it has up to 180hp available. We use two Case IH tractors and enjoy good back-up, so we also run grassland machinery from Ernest Doe Power’s previous range but feel the SIP products look good and seem to perform well based on this demonstration.”
Nick is pictured (left) with Ollie Fuller and Josh and Phil Bush.
Woldingham, Surrey-based Church Farm Services is run by the Fuller family and contracting services include baling, silaging, forage harvesting and muck spreading across the South-East. “We offer a full grass harvesting service from mowing to baling or clamping,” explained Nick Fuller, “and we make and sell square bales of hay, haylage, silage and straw. We attended the dealer’s winter SIP launch, and were impressed by the range so we were keen to see the kit in action, especially the tedder as we are due to replace ours.
“It looks well built, there is nothing flimsy and although we were concerned initially that parts back-up might not be as good as we need, we are sure that by next year between SIP and Ernest Doe Power any issues will have been sorted. We run a 7.5m model currently and are debating whether to invest in a larger trailed model as a replacement or keep the current machine and buy a second mounted version for extra flexibility. We have some very narrow lanes to travel down and narrow gateways, but the 11m SIP tedder folds surprisingly small with a clever arrangement allowing the end sections to fold first, before the main section,” he added.
Nick said the company deals with Josh and his father Phil Bush at the Albourne depot and the dealer is used to supply machinery as he is looked after well, and there is a range of good quality brands on offer.
Pictured (l-r) John Newman, Nick Dance and hil Bush.
Agricultural contractor Nick Dance is based at Chaldon, Surrey and carries out agricultural and local authority contracting. “Ernest Doe Power supplies almost everything we need,” he explained. “We run Case IH tractors including a Puma 165CVX, a Maxxum 130CVX and a Farmall 105C and most of our work is mowing and hedge maintenance, for which Shelbourne Reynolds hedgecutters are used. Grass cutting contracts include sports pitches and parks and we also make hay and clear grass. We use mowers, tedders and rakes and along with the grass machinery I have also enjoyed the opportunity to look at the latest Manitou handler, which is a lot different to our current 634 model. We use it for everything including woodchip, bark, mulch and bales and have also bought Marshall trailers from the dealer for haulage.
“We are impressed with the SIP range which appears well built and robust. We operate a rear mower currently although it’s not due for changing yet, and our tedder is likely to be updated first. We deal with Phil at Albourne and enjoy a great working relationship and have always been looked after well, ever since the depot was originally Harper & Ede. We operated Case, then McCormick and are now back to Case IH having stuck with Phil as he supplied different brands,” he added.
Nick’s nephew John Newman operates the company’s Manitou handler and commented he was particularly impressed by the latest cab offering far more space and improved visibility for high level handling through a curved screen and innovative screen guard design.
Clive Billings of Brands Hatch, Kent-based Oncoland Ltd is pictured (left) with machinery operators Steve Henley and Paul Obst. Clive explained that the farm is mainly arable, but also includes dairy and beef cattle, hops and vines. The milking herd comprises 300 head of Holstein plus followers, for which there is grassland and lucerne grown, baled and added to the TMR.
5,500 round bales are made each year of which 4,000 are straw, all for the farm’s own use. “I have dealt with Nick and Richard at the dealer’s Dartford depot for many years,” explained Clive. “It’s convenient for us, and we receive great service from a team of trustworthy, honest people. They are key to the business and I know when I ask advice they will express their honest opinions.”
Clive said he was at the demonstration day to see everything working, but he was especially interested in the new baler wrapper, and the SIP grass rake. “Being able to wrap bales as they are made would save us time and offer immediate protection to the bales,” he said. “The SIP kit looks right and with the combination of a good brand and dealer it’s of great interest.”