A CONVERT to the self-propelled mowing system is North Yorkshire contractor Andrew Long of Hayber Farm, Nappa.
With two forage harvester teams and a workload that extends to over 7000 acres of grass silage, Mr Long looked to the self-propelled mower concept five years ago to replace a pair of front/rear mower combinations and two rear mounted mowers.
"Our mowing system was very labour and machinery intensive," explains Andrew Long. "We had no need for a 200hp tractor which could be used for a high capacity mowing outfit, so we made use of existing tractors which meant using plenty of mowers.
"Now, one man and one machine has replaced four men with four tractors and six mowers," he says.
While Mr Long still retains two rear-mounted mowers for those occasional moments when some help is required, over 90% of the grass silage workload is cut using the firms latest mowing monster – a 360hp Claas Jaguar 840 fitted with an 8.5m wide Disco 8500 triple mower outfit. It replaced an older Jaguar 695-based system fitted with an 8.1m mower.
"The 695 was an improvement on our old six mower fleet, but it was not quite right," he says. "The 840 with the Disco 8500 mower is a much different animal. You could say its made for the job. And the three mowers float independently, so it suits the mixed terrain that we have to work on."
Those who remain sceptical about investing in such a machine just to mow grass might be relieved to know that Mr Long bought the Jaguar 840 as a four-year old forager for a fraction of its new price. As part of the deal, the 840 came with a refurbished chopping mechanism – which has not yet been used – and a new triple mower outfit.
And Mr Long reckons his contracting business still doesnt need a high horsepower tractor, so investing in a second-hand forager as a power unit was not difficult to justify.
"Its cheap horsepower," he says. "Weve run the Jag 840 mower for three seasons now and it has proved to be a fantastic asset to our silage making.
"Despite the average field size being around 10-15 acres, we can easily drop 250 acres in a day with the mower, and at a push we could only clear 220 acres with both foragers working flat out.
"With the mowers up front, the operator has a clear view of what is going on, too," he adds. "And should we need to call upon a third forager for maize or whole crop work, then the Jag 840 can quickly be refitted with its chopping mechanism. And with its chopping equipment, the 840 will represent good value for money for those who want a cheap self-propelled forager when its time to swap the power unit."
Powered by a Mercedes V6 turbo diesel pushing out 360hp, Mr Long reckons the 840 is never short of power when working on the rolling slopes of the Pennines.
"It mows up hill just as fast as it goes down, which is about 7-8mph," he says. "And because the 840 is boss of the job – and mowing is not as hard a task as foraging – it seems to sip fuel. And I certainly dont need any more power for mowing.
"Average fuel consumption is about 0.75 gallons/acre, which is much less than previous mowing systems weve used and is a further benefit to our customers because they supply our diesel."n
Above: Mr Longs Jaguar 840 with 8.5m triple mower has the capacity to scythe its way through 25 acres of grass every hour.
Below: "Weve no need for a high horsepower tractor, so a second-hand forager is an ideal source of power for a triple mower outfit," explains north Yorkshire contractor Andrew Long.