Farmer Focus: A good straw chopper is vital

By the time you read this, Millie super dog and I should be standing at our peg wishing we hadn’t eaten and drunk so much, and fearful of what buttons might pop as we reach skyward in order to frighten a few more game birds.

Every year I tell myself that next year we won’t consume so many goodies!

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I decided this Christmas that as I’m reaching my mid-forties, it’s probably a good time for a mid-life crisis. So with this in mind I suggested to my good lady wife I quite fancied a Harley Davidson for my main present.

Now somewhere along the way we got our wires crossed, and although she agrees I wanted a bike, she’s adamant I didn’t mention motor bike. Anyway, my new mountain bike is now in the workshop awaiting a bench seat conversion. There’s no way I can sit on that razor blade.

In our quest to improve our soil structure and residue management this summer, we tried a combine-mounted straw chopper from Canadian manufacturer Redekop.

To say this was a revolutionary machine would be an understatement, the straw was not only cut very short, it was also lacerated lengthways and easily blown evenly across the full 12m-spread width. The result is that the crop residue has gone in about half the time of a conventional chop.

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to visit CNH Industrial’s R&D facility in New Holland, Pennsylvania – more about that another time – but as we were halfway to Canada we decided to fly on and visit the Redekop factory in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where we soon realised why the chopper is so good.

The materials used are the very best hardened steel and the rotor-balancing machine was accurate to within a couple of grams. A visit to the local dealers to see the number of machines fitted with the chopper gave us the confidence to place an order. Watch out slugs, your habitat is about to be decimated.

Keith Challen manages 800ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Fruit Farms. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business