12 June 1998

Speed key to more custom

Wet weather has meant our

Scottish contractor D M

Carnegie has not been able

to put his new silage making

equipment into the field.

Ian Marshall caught up with

him at ScotGrass

WITH all the spring drilling done and wet weather holding up the start of silage making, there is a break in David Carnegies workload.

So our contractors comment contributor has taken the opportunity come down from Grampian to Castle Douglas in the Borders, to take a look around the ScotGrass demonstration.

"I am interested in developments in trailed wide spread mower-conditioners," he says, revealing that last winters assessment of the machinery fleet has led to changes in working practices and investment in new equipment and systems.

"We examined our costs and the ways we can spread them, so that we can continue to do a good job for our customers as economically as possible," he explains. "To do that, we feel, speed is essential: The quicker we can get a job done, the greater the opportunity to increase our client base. But that has meant a new approach to both our silage making and cultivations operations."

This new approach has brought in some newcomers to the machinery and equipment fleet.

When silaging starts this season the front line mower conditioner will be a new 3m (10ft) Vicon HPC front and rear mower conditioner combination mounted on a 160hp Ford 8560. It is accompanied by a new 7.8m (25.6ft) Claas 780 twin rotor rake.

Optimum D-value

"To cut at optimum D-value means an early June first cut, when we are mowing in lush early grass and against the weather," says Mr Carnegie. "We feel that the high evaporation rates of the HPC – theres a 5% improvement on our John Deere mower conditioner – will give us a better chance of getting 25-30% dry matter over a 24-hour wilt, in addition to reducing effluent."

But the HPCs arrival has not meant the departure of the Carnegies 3m (10ft) John Deere 1360. Mr Carnegie is confident that the two outfits running in tandem will increase daily output from some 22ha (55 acres) to at least 34ha (85 acres), in addition to giving him the flexibility of being able to run the two units separately.

Inevitably mower costs are slightly higher – part offset from cutting out the tedding operation – and Mr Carnegie admits that although he has had to raise his prices, the increase has not covered the cost of the investment.

"But customer reaction has been positive, they are willing to give it a season," he says.

Cultivations and drilling operations have also come under scrutiny. The result, another departure from Mr Carnegies traditional methods.

With increased output again the objective, he has bought a 212hp Claas Challenger 35. It is Mr Carnegies first experience of a tracklayer. The idea is to put it on the front of 6m (20ft) power harrow/grain and fertiliser drill combination, which should double drilling output with only one man. "But I do not know if any are made," admits Mr Carnegie.

"Everything is being geared to spreading costs," says Mr Carnegie. "Hopefully, the HPC and the Challenger are a step in this direction." &#42

David Carnegies investments in new machinery and equipment are aimed at increasing output in order to spread costs. He is also looking at bale wrapper developments.

CARNEGIE DATA

&#8226 Base Steelstrath, Laurencekirk, Grampian (01674-840288).

&#8226 Work undertaken All arable and livestock operations.

&#8226 Machinery fleet 30 tractors (80-160hp), seven combines, 10 rape swathers, range of conventional and self-propelled sprayers, New Holland S1900 self-propelled forager, two Big A lime spreaders.

&#8226 Labour 35 full time.