No grass, but show goes on
The first of this years regional grassland events, Far West Grassland 95, suffered just one minor hitch – no grass. Exhibitors may have had little crop to go at with their machines but they reported continuing strong interest in high dry matter equipment. Peter Hill reports
A GRASSLAND event with no grass brings to mind the dilemma of the pub with no beer.
But a lack of grass, which deterred most manufacturers from demonstrating their machinery at the Far West Grassland 95 event last week, was not all bad news. It gave Bucks-based Agrimech Engineering the opportunity to show that its new Aeroswather mower-conditioner is capable of handling light as well as heavy crops.
"We cut 12,000 acres of grass a year for our drying operation and come across many different crops," says Paul Caldwell. "This mower will work satisfactorily in all of them."
The latest machine is based on the companys familiar Grasshopper twin-drum mower, a 3.0m (9ft 10in) machine built to withstand heavy-duty operation. But instead of the current machines horizontal brush conditioning drum, the Aeroswather version has a vertical drum positioned to the rear of the two cutting units.
"Brush conditioning is an effective way of treating grass because it does a better job of scraping the wax from the grass stems," says Mr Caldwell. "But it tends to be power hungry. So we tried setting the rotor on its side and, because it deflects the crop sideways rather than lifting it, power consumption is reduced." The third drum is powered at one-third the speed of the cutting units by a hydraulic motor driven off the main gearbox and belt drive. Deflectors help to keep the grass in an even swath or can be set to spread the grass for faster or more thorough wilting.
"One bonus of the design is that it tends to leave the grass with the butts uppermost and it is those that need most wilting," adds Mr Caldwell.
The Grasshopper Aeroswather costs £12,750.
Breaking into the big league can be a difficult task for smaller manufacturers. Mower maker Terry Kelloway is finding that having the right name and pedigree helps.
His K-Two-8 twin drum mower appeared at Far West Grassland 95 with Volac stickers and he immediately received a positive response from dealers.
"I have been knocking on doors for three or four years and people who turned me away came up at the event saying they would take on the machine; I couldnt believe it," enthuses Mr Kelloway.
The 2.4m (7ft 10in) cut machine is aimed at larger farmers and smaller contractors wanting a tough-build mower that is easy to maintain and will stand up to hard work. Sales so far have numbered barely 25 a year but on the strength of the response at the demonstration, Mr Kelloway believes that sales could soon be better.
Volac is using the season to gauge reaction to the mower before committing itself to a marketing arrangement.
K-Two prices the machine at £10,700 or £14,300 with a conveyor swathing attachment. *
Wheres the grass? The Far West grassland site, near Exeter, was suffering from the same early season shortage of grass being felt by many other regions. Below: Agrimechs Grasshopper Aeroswather in action. Its vertical crop conditioning drum is said to reduce power requirement.