5 June 1998

Making silage despite weather

ScotGrass 98, the second

national working grassland

demonstration of the

season, was the venue for a

number of new machine

introductions. Ian Marshall

reports from Castle Douglas

CONSIDER any silage-making system that will be less influenced by the weather. That was among the advice being handed out to farmers at ScotGrass, which had as its theme equipment which best used labour, time and machinery resources.

It would mean higher outputs, faster wilting and avoiding second or third operations – all aspects of silage making reflected at the event in a display of wide and wider mowers, tedders and rakes intended to satisfy the capacities of self-propelled forage harvesters.

Krone, Vicon and Pottinger claimed growing farmer interest in their wide spread mower conditioners, as they met both criteria – speed of cut and fast wilting.

But there are those livestock farmers – albeit few as yet, said Allan Langley, the Scottish Agricultural Colleges lecturer in machinery – who are turning away from mower conditioning and going back to straight mowing with a design which leaves an upright, open swath.

The argument in favour is threefold. First, lower machine costs. Second, the shape and structure of swath allows sufficiently good rates of evaporation through wind action. And third, the rigidity the longer cut gives the swath makes it less prone to rain damage than a shorter-cut conditioned or wide spread crop.

Among the mowers going through their paces at ScotGrass was Danagris 2.9m (9.6ft) wide Mortl 2.95S with two manually selected conditioner speeds – 905rpm or 670rpm. It also has the facility to reverse the direction of rotation of the conditioning rotor away from the bed, to leave grass in an unconditioned swath.

On the rake front, WestMac revealed it was soon to introduce its widest model, the Stoll Drive 1800S, which comprises two rotors from the current Drive 782 Hydro, mounted diagonally on a long frame.

The design is said to allow the swath to be moved across the implement to create a single 7.5m (25ft) swath, whose width can be doubled on the next pass down the field. And 15m (50ft) of grass should satisfy the most voracious of self-propelled foragers, said WestMac.

The machine can also be adjusted to lay a central swath, by throwing a lever on the gearbox to change the rotational direction. Price of the Stoll Drive 1800S is about £13,000.

Round bale silage continues to find favour, especially among smaller livestock units in Scotland, and farmers are looking for better fermentation through improved wrapping quality.

Kverneland reckons to have the answer with its UN7335 – a machine aimed more at farmers than contractors. Said to be a no-frills model priced at £6850, it has basic cable controls and is capable of handling bales up to 1000kg in weight.

ScotGrass saw Krones RP 1250 fixed chamber round baler working. It replaces the KR130 Mini Stop. A multicut chopping version, it carried 17 knives to provide a chop length of 64mm. Prices start at £21,000.

Opico 4m and 6m grass harrows can now be fitted with a pneumatic drill for direct reseeding of grassland. Seed is carried in a 180-litre capacity hopper with air supplied by two electrically driven fans. Metering is by landwheel and peg wheel rollers and the seed is broadcast, at 1.5-13.5kg/ha (3-30lb/acre), behind the leading bank of tines using splash plates. Price of the 6m harrow is £2800; the air drill adds £3500.

One-man wrapping and stacking is the idea behind Danagris Auto Wrap 1300, which can be mounted on a materials handler, front-end loader, or rear three-point linkage. Driven hydrostatically, the wrapper is joystick controlled and can accommodate bales up to 1200kg in weight. The Auto Wrap 1300 costs £8600.