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Grassland & Muck

Technical event returns to Dumfries

ScotGrass is set to return to Crichton Royal Farm at Dumfries on Wednesday 15th May 2019, and gives livestock farmers and grassland contractors the opportunity to see the latest grass conservation methods and machinery in action in field scale plots on a commercial dairy farm says organiser the AEA.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see the latest grass harvesting machinery put through its paces in field scale plots. They will also have the chance to talk to industry experts on technical subjects affecting the livestock industry and those supplying products and services into the livestock sector.

Event organiser, Kayleigh Holden explained: ‘The AEA is extremely pleased to be back at Crichton Royal Farm which was also used for the 2016 event. The site in Dumfries offers excellent facilities for manufacturers to showcase their machinery to potential customers and visitors alike and we would like to thank SRUC for hosting the 2019 event.”

This year’s Knowledge Trail includes stations focusing on soil structure, maximising yield with fresh grass, controlled traffic farming and grass varieties.

‘Soil structure for grass’ examines how to diagnose problems with your soils and drainage and what you can do to improve them.

‘Cut and carry’ is a focus on maximising yield with fresh grass. Permanently housed cows when fed freshly cut grass consume more feed and produce more milk. This AHDB Dairy supported station looks at the work conducted on the farm to make the most of this technique.

‘Controlled traffic farming in grassland’ will look at work done on the farm to manage where machines go on the field, not just when conserving forage but throughout the farming year.

‘Grass varieties’ – Having the know how with new grass and forage varieties to make the most of a growing crop, whether grazed or conserved, is the focus of this station.

New galvanised chassis provides superior protection

All new Strautmann forage wagons are now fitted with a galvanised chassis, new rear door load sensors and improved Isobus connectors to improve the longevity and reliability of machines. The new, upgraded model can be seen on the Opico stand at ScotGrass.

Commenting, Opico Strautmann sales specialist James Swan, said: “Forage wagons are exposed to significant corrosion risk and the new galvanised chassis will provide superior protection, while also making the machines more resistant to mud and adverse weather, especially if stored outside.

“The new package of improvements aims to make the forage wagons tougher and more reliable, while further increasing their life and functionality.”

New rear door sensors are more robust and, combined with improved Isobus connectors to prevent the ingress of water and dirt, the wagons will be more resilient and capable of providing trouble-free operation to their optimal working capacity.

The improvements can be seen on the Strautmann Giga Vitesse which will be on display on the Opico stand at ScotGrass, Wednesday 15th May, SRUC Crichton Royal Farm.

New baler and mower on display

The latest addition to the Claas Rollant fixed chamber round baler range and the new Disco Move front mower will be revealed at ScotGrass.

The redesigned baling chamber on the Rollant 540 has 15 rollers and makes bales with a diameter of 1.22m and width of 1.25m. The serrated profile of the rollers maintains optimum bale rotation even under moist conditions. The rollers are fitted with specially hardened 50mm stub shafts, which are bolted to the roller body and can be individually replaced if necessary. The rollers which have the most load are fitted with new double race bearings for a longer service life.

Options include the MPS II system, where three of the chamber rollers pivot into the chamber for additional bale compression, early bale rotation, and a perfectly uniform bale shape.

The baling rollers are driven from the left side of the machine and each roller has direct drive, resulting in uniform force distribution to the rollers with a lower power requirement. The rotor and main drive have 1.25in drive chains, and the tailgate rollers are driven by a 1in chain.

Both film or net can be used with the Rollant 540 and a ramp on the right side of the machine simplifies the task of loading the wrapping system. For operating the baler, there is a choice between the Claas Communicator, the Operator terminal or a tractor Isobus terminal.

Also on display will be the new Disco Move front mower, which incorporates a new design that allows the mower to move over a range of 1,000mm independent of the tractor linkage, so ensuring optimum contour following in the most uneven of fields.

The Disco 3200 Move has a working width of 3m and is available with or without a tined conditioner. The Disco Move mower incorporates a completely new design of headstock giving up to 600mm of upward travel and 400mm downward for improved contour following. The mower unit is also able to pivot laterally from the central pivot point, which is set at a 30-degree angle. As a result, the mowing unit can swing backwards at a slight diagonal angle to avoid obstacles. The mower bed is able to respond very quickly to finer ground contours thanks to the tried and proven lower pivot point from the current Profil range. The new headstock combined with the low pivot point assures excellent contour following, especially for larger tractors and at higher speeds.

Debut for new triple mower combination

The new Novacat A10 Crossflow combination mower system will be making its working debut at this year’s ScotGrass event.

This large triple mower combination can offer cutting widths of up to 10m when used in conjunction with a front mower. Utilising the Pottinger cutterbar, the crop is mown and fed directly into the mechanically driven augers at the rear of the cutterbars.

The large diameter robust augers deliver the crop to the centre of the tractor with minimal damage and a low power requirement. If the desire is to spread the crop for wilting, this can be achieved simply by opening the rear auger hood, allowing crop to be deposited directly to the ground.

Full hydraulic adjustment of the working width is possible, operated manually by the driver or for Isobus equipped compatible tractors this can also be linked to the steering angle sensor, offering automatic adaption to the tractor as it turns.

For a closer look visit the Pottinger demonstration plot at the ScotGrass event.

Flexibility and lower costs

When it comes to combine hire or sales choice has never been more important, says Cambridgeshire-based Agricultural Plant Hire.

APH offers a wide range of new and used combine harvesters for hire.

The company has combines available for both part or full season hire, from one year to five-year contracts, with a choice of models and accessories. “We offer New Holland and Claas machines from the newest and latest specification combines, right through to a selection of well maintained, used combines in a range of sizes,” says APH. “With expertise built up over four decades of operations, there is something to suit the needs and budgets of all farmers.”

APH is also an independent stockholder of parts for New Holland and Claas combine harvesters and carries stock worth in excess of £1 million including some 5,000 off-the-shelf items to cover a wide range of both current and established combine models.

APH offers comprehensive product knowledge, excellent customer service and next day delivery on items from stock.

Slurry tanker demonstrations

Low weight, low centre of gravity and high degree of stability are some of the features of the Zunhammer SKE series, imported by Agrifac and being demonstrated across the UK this spring.

The SKE is equipped with the Eco system which has slurry lines running through the frame so that the slurry can flow more efficiently. At the same time, the large cross-section of the frame provides a lower counterpressure than standard pressure lines. This saves energy on the drive side and reduces wear on the pump.

In their basic configuration Zunhammer tankers consist of a tank, chassis, frame and rotary lobe pump along with slurry agitation. The heart-shaped tank combined with the agitation pattern, prevents solids from being deposited in the tank. Unlike vacuum tanks, Zunhammer tankers do not rely on a vacuum or pressure within the tank to fill or empty.

The Zunhammer 19.5m3 tanker is also fitted with the Glide-fix trailing shoe to provide optimal spreading quality to the crop. Available in widths of 12, 15 and 18m, the large operating width ensures high hourly output, providing throughput of up to 12,000-litres/min.

As well as the Glide-fix, Zunhammer has introduced Van-Control 2.0; a direct measuring system for slurry analysis that makes it possible to analyse cattle and swine slurry or liquid digestate during filling of the tanker. The system allows the use of these natural fertilisers with almost the same precision as artificial fertilisers. The nutrient analysis allows the user to set the desired nitrogen application rate and leave the tanker to determine the required m3/ha. Variable rate application is also possible by linking the Van-Control system to soil maps. Optimal metering based on the quantity of nutrients to be spread also saves substantially on fertiliser costs, says the company.

Ideal tractor for scraping and maintenance

The ideal yard scraper tractor could be a TAFE, according to Dorset based Tractors UK, which is the sole UK importer of these Indian-built tractors.

A number of customers have as many as five of these tractors spread throughout their dairy farms, the company says.

In addition, some of these tractors do in excess of 4,000 trouble-free hours of yard scraping per year, making them one of the lowest running-cost tractors on the market, the company reports.

Tractors UK distributes throughout the country, and support is offered directly or via a network of dealers.

The tractors come with a two-year parts and labour warranty and Tractors UK reports that it stocks a comprehensive range of spare parts.

Moreover, Tractors UK claims that as it is similar to the Coventry-built Massey Fergusons, most of the spare parts are interchangeable between the two brands, which improves the spares back up.   

These versatile little TAFE tractors are ideal for general farm maintenance and particularly useful when manoeuvring in tight spaces.  They are also suitable for operating toppers, post drivers or other machinery to the rear of these reliable tractors for help around the farm, points out Tractors UK.

Flexible grassland improvement

Animal production and output is directly related to the maintenance of grass quality and yield. Over time grass production reduces principally due to invasive weeds which rapidly colonise the bare areas of fields. Overseeding has become an important method of maintaining grass yields and animal productivity.

The Grass 300 from Bullock Tillage is a multi-purpose harrow which deals with the challenges of improving grassland condition.

At the front there is a full-width hydraulically-adjustable levelling board which is capable of levelling mole hills and organic manures. Behind the levelling board there are three rows of adjustable tines, the first two rows are 12mm heavy duty cranked tines for pulling out weeds and matting. The third row are lighter duty 8mm tines for levelling and seed coverage.

At the rear there is a full-width hydraulically-adjustable prismatic packer for depth control which ensures good seed-to-soil contact and a level surface.

The Grass 300 can handle all operations required for grassland management and offers further flexibility when used in combination with an airseeder.

High specification simple model promises excellent value

High prices and complexity of fertiliser spreading equipment prompted the development of Joskin’s new model, the Modulo Advantage.

The Advantage is suited to small farming businesses and tractors of approximately +/-110hp, says the manufacturer. It includes a slurry tanker with a capacity of 11,000 litres on which a 7.5m Pendislide Basic boom is fitted. This boom is part of the latest developments from the brand and aims to combine high-tech performances with ease of use. To that end, the spreading boom is fitted with control automation and a Scalper macerator. It is also fitted with wear-resistant Ertalon skids applying continuous ground pressure by means of a system of leaf springs. By moving apart the vegetation, these skids ensure precise distribution of the nutrients close to the roots without dirtying the leaves or fodder.

The single axle is fitted with Alliance 800/65R32 tyres for a load capacity of 9,900kg per wheel at 40kph. If necessary, the vehicle can be fitted with an optional front filling arm on a Jumbo cone. In order to keep prices down the Modulo Advantage will be built on a dedicated assembly line and will be produced in identical series, the first of which are expected in July 2019.

Producing a large quantity of this model ensures economies of scale with the raw materials, a more profitable distribution of the workforce and a higher efficiency for automated production machines. This has a direct impact on the sale price and allows the company to deliver a high-tech machine at the price of standard one, says Joskin.

The Modulo Advantage will be available for less than €35,000.

Business growth in the bag despite a difficult year

Despite a difficult year with drought causing low yields and many customers achieving only one cut of grass instead of two or three, AB Systems did manage to bag a few large tonnages for some big anaerobic digesters.

The company also reports having its biggest increase in new clients which almost made up for the drop in tonnage.

“With the increase in customers in 2018, we decided to get another large 14ft diameter bagger for 2019,” says AB. “This machine is very different from all our other machines as it is on tracks, it will pack the bags tighter and have a faster throughput than all of our previous machines therefore keeping us one step ahead of the big self-propelled foragers.  We envisage this machine will be able to keep two of the largest foragers going.”

As well as our growth in the South, our fellow Ag-Baggers in Scotland ‘Billy Rea’ have also been growing, adding another 12ft machine to its fleet last year. Combined, we now have four 10ft diameter baggers, four 12ft diameter baggers and two 14ft diameter baggers for contracting, covering the whole of the UK.

As well as ag-bags, AB Systems has seen growth in the sale of its new seven-layer oxygen barrier silage sheet. It reports that customers have been happy with the product which is now available in a larger selection of sizes along with side wall sheets giving more choice.

Managing tight forage stocks

Last year’s late cold spring and lack of summer rain challenged dairy farmers to make and store enough forage for their cows. Sara Gregson asks one producer how he coped.

Derek Garrett runs 460 Jersey crossbred cows on an organic dairy unit at Park Hill Farm near Thornbury in Avon, on 385ha of part-owned, part-rented land. The herd is split into 130 autumn calvers and 330 spring calvers, with the spring calvers milked once a day and the autumn calvers milked twice a day until the spring calvers start the following year. The autumn calvers are fed 4kg oats and 1.5kg soya until the springs start calving, but the spring calvers receive no concentrate feed at all. They are all kept in one herd.

The milk is sold to OMSCO and the milk has been certified antibiotic-free for the past three years.

Derek went organic in 2006 and has been running a New Zealand style grazing system for many years. The cows enter a paddock when there is 3,200kg DM/ha and graze it down tight to 1,500kg DM/ha. They are given 12-hour breaks, giving the cows a regular fresh feed.

The cows have been out this year in the daytime since the end of February, although the dry winter has slowed grass growth well below normal.

“We would usually have 76cm of rain a year and we have had only 15–17cm all winter,” says Derek. “We are in the rain-shadow of South Wales – we can watch it raining over the River Severn and be totally dry here.”

Grass seed mixtures

The soils vary across the farm from sandy loam to some heavier clay. Grass seeds mixtures such as Megabite for grazing and Fortress for silage with white clover from Oliver Seeds have been used extensively with some fields now 14 years old and still performing.

“I tend to replace up to 20ha of the grazing block each year – ploughing in winter, spreading muck at 14t/ha and cultivating with a disc before distributing the seed using a harrow with a seed box above.

“I have always bought from Tony Walkers at Oliver Seeds since going down the milk from grazed grass route. My focus is producing milk from forage and these mixtures have never let me down. They are predominantly late perennial ryegrasses, with Timothy, festulolium and white clover.”

Difficult growing season

The late, cold spring last year kept the cows in at night-time until May – much later than usual, but once the warm weather came the grass grew very quickly – giving a large first cut of silage.

“We were lucky enough to have a lot of forage in stock from 2017 so we had more than enough to last the longer winter,” Derek explains. “We had a massive first cut but the second cut never came. After filling the clamp we usually make 1,500 round bales – but last year made just 500.

“The clover thrived in the dry summer and we had 40ha of pure clover which we baled but didn’t wrap and fed out in a sacrifice paddock along with 300t of clamp silage, from mid June to mid August.

“During those 8 weeks we lost 5 litres of milk a day per cow, but when the rain came the fresh grass that grew was of exceptional quality and we got 3-litres a day per cow back.

“The favourable autumn allowed us to keep the cows out a month longer than usual and the heifers stayed out grazing until Christmas Eve. We dried off some of the autumn calvers a month earlier than normal to allow more grass for the spring calvers.

“I also took the opportunity to sell 40 high cell count cows. I used their milk to rear beef calves for five months, saving on the cost of organic milk powder before selling the cows.

“The forage stocks are now low – with no round bales left and just 400t of clamp silage. It will be tight but we have our fingers crossed that it will rain and the grazing and silage fields will come away well. Last year was a real test but we managed by being flexible and adapting to the conditions.”

Hard working harrow for professionals

The Grasmaster from Kockerling is a scarifying harrow that is built for the professional user and contractors.

By using vertical double tines, the effect on the ground is intensified. The 8mm thick tine is strong enough to withstand the heaviest of work. The curved tine spring top allows the vertical leg to move in any direction levelling and tearing out dead grass. The 60 tines per tine field produce a tine spacing of 2.5cm.

Each tine field follows the ground contours independently from its neighbour. This ensures that the whole field is worked equally even at high speeds. A hydraulic cylinder on the wheel/parallelogram can adjust the working depth and the aggressiveness of the tines. Aggressive settings are ideal for aerating pastures. Less aggressive settings are particularly suitable for reseeding.

When working in grassland with molehills or dried dung pats the height adjustable cross boards level the molehills and break up the dung pats leaving a much better finish. The cross boards are not fixed over the whole width of the machine and are divided up into sections. This allows optimum adaption to the ground contours.

A mounted seeder is available as an option. The fan is powered by a PTO shaft which ensures a constant strong flow of air creating even distribution of seeds. The seed is delivered down eight tubes into the tine fields where the vibration of the tines spreads the seed over the whole working width. The Grasmaster is available in 3m and 6m working widths.

New grass windrower on show

Kuhn will demonstrate its new belt merger grass windrower, the latest model in its variable round baler range, and its award-winning film binding technology among an array of equipment at ScotGrass 2019, says the company.

Aimed at large-scale grassland farms and contractors, the Merge Maxx 950 uses two adjustable, variable width and bi-directional merger belts to give a maximum grass pick-up width of 9.5m in a single pass.

The bi-directional design of the twin belts provides multiple windrow delivery options: forage can be delivered into a single central windrow, a single lateral windrow (left or right side), two lateral windrows (one either side) or a central and left or right lateral windrow. With this degree of versatility, the Merge Maxx can collect up to 18m into a single windrow from 2 passes, or – in light crop situations such as a multi-cut silage system – collect up to 27m of grass into 1 windrow from 3 passes.

Pick-up and windrow width can be adjusted to suit the quantity and type of forage material being harvested, thus enabling the number of passes and associated costs to be reduced. For lateral windrows, the windrow width can be varied between 1.0–1.5m. For central windrows, the windrow can be up to 2.2m in width.

Forage supply

Auto-regulating rollers at the front and side of the pick-up unit self-adjust their position according to crop thickness. These in turn pass a consistent and constant supply of forage to the merger belts, thus enabling the Merge Maxx to produce a uniform, airy and faster-drying windrow which makes it easier for the subsequent baler or chopper to collect large volumes of grass: for forage harvesters this can equate to a 2–3kph increase in forward operating speed.

As with any rake, clean grass pick-up and the ability to produce a swathe which is free of stones, soil or other impurities, is reliant on the ability to follow ground contours accurately. On the Merge Maxx 950, this is controlled by three key design elements: articulated pick-up skids, powerful lift-control springs, and pivot points which provide vertical and angled ground clearance. As well as ensuring good forage quality, less debris within the swathe also translates to less time and money spent on replacing blades and other working parts on the forage harvester or baler.

Kuhn’s latest variable chamber round baler range will be represented by the VB 3165, a machine producing bales from 0.8–1.6m diameter and 1.2m wide.

One of four models in the range, this baler is equipped with the company’s Progressive Density system which uses two chamber rollers, a starter roller and five endless baling belts to produce evenly shaped bales. Belt pressure increases as the bale grows and can be adjusted from the tractor cab to compensate for variations in crop type quality and to maintain a constant density as the bale is formed.

The VB 3165 is suitable for baling a range of wet and dry crops: from hay and straw (5–20 per cent moisture), to haylage (18–35 per cent moisture) and silage (35–80 per cent moisture). It is available with Kuhn’s Optifeed, Opticut 14 or Opticut 23 intake rotors.

All VB models can be supplied with, and controlled by, Kuhn’s new Isobus terminals, the 5.4in (14.3cm) CCI 50 and the 12.1in (30.5cm) CCI 1200, both of which can be used to control any Isobus-ready machine.

Designed to reduce air pollution

Manufacturer of slurry management equipment Storth sets out to reduce air pollution through the design of its equipment.

As most gas emissions are released on the spreading of slurry, Storth manufactured a range of galvanised dribble bars in its British factory to help assist with precision application.

This type of slurry application assists with the amount of nutrients available to crops, as traditional methods of spreading slurry can result in nutrients being lost to the atmosphere, releasing harmful ammonia gas.

The Storth range of dribble bars reduces the surface area of which slurry is exposed to, lowering nutrient losses by as much as 5 per cent in comparison to spreader bars.

The range of dribble bars, which includes the Farmer Plus and Contractor Dribble Bar, was designed to help accommodate different farms. The vertical fold dribble bar incorporates a close coupled central frame design, giving narrow transport width, as well as the strength to facilitate the optional HD female A-frame. Prior to slurry being applied to the ground, it is processed by the distributor, giving a better consistency to the slurry being applied.

The Farmer Plus dribble bar has been developed to have the added benefit of being able to use the dribble bar application on a tanker as opposed to the umbilical contractor version.

Non-stop round baling made possible

Speeding up the baling process is the main advantage to Vicon’s non-stop round baling and wrapping solution FastBale.

It eliminates the need to stop and wait while net wrap is applied to finish each round bale.

Based on a fixed chamber principle, FastBale uses a pre-chamber, a main chamber and an integral wrapping table, to manage crop flow and deliver a non-stop round baling process.

Vicon’s use of two chambers in series allows a number of rollers to be shared. Operating as a pre-chamber, the first section of FastBale produces two-thirds of the bale. As the pre-chamber reaches its preset density, crop flow is diverted into the main bale chamber allowing baling to continue non-stop.

The pre-chamber is then opened, moving the pre-formed bale into the main chamber, where it can be taken to its maximum size of 1.25m. Once bale formation is complete, crop flow is switched back to the pre-chamber, again to allow baling to continue. Net is then applied to the completed bale, the tailgate is opened and the finished bale is transferred onto the wrapper. This entire process enables baling to continue uninterrupted.

FastBale’s design has resulted in a compact machine, which is believed to be shorter than other baler-wrapper combinations on the market.

Producing 1.25m diameter bales, the Vicon FastBale offers outputs of around 100 bales/hour.

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