Combine users give their verdicts two years on

Two years ago we picked seven different makes of two-year-old combine and got a warts-and-all report from their owners and drivers. We’ve repeated the exercise again this year to see how well the same machines got on. Here are our reports on the first four – New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Deutz-Fahr and Sampo. We’ll be following up with the other three later.

Sampo Rosenlew 3065

Humfrey Stobart, Cornwall

Vital stats: 2008 model on 700 engine hours. Six straw-walkers, 210hp Sisu engine, 5.1m header, 6,500-litre grain tank. Made in Finland.

Sampo-3065

Sampo 3065

What is its workload and how many hours has it done now?

“We’re cutting just 100ha with the Sampo so it doesn’t do a huge number of hours – it now has 700 engine hours on the clock.

Likes

  • Easy access for servicing and adjustments
  • Solid build
  • No fancy gizmos – no computer required to fix it

Gripes

  • Parts shipped from Finland can be expensive
  • Can be slow to get the set-up right when changing crops
  • No cool box

“I’m hoping that means it’ll last a good while longer – although it probably has the odds stacked against it with our maritime Cornish climate.”

How has it performed?

“The catchy weather we tend to get through harvest means we need a combine that is capable of going out and grabbing a decent amount of crop when the conditions are right, even on our small acreage.

“In winter barley it will average 10t/hour and I’m happy if we cover 10ha/day.”

Has it been reliable?

“We chose the Sampo because of its mechanical simplicity and it has really paid off. Generally the things that have gone wrong have been down to operator error or just the tough crop conditions.

“That said, last year we had the unloading auger drop off the side of the combine when an R-clip came loose bouncing across tramlines. It stopped harvest for two days as our local blacksmith straightened everything out.

Farm facts

Pittsdown Farm, near Truro, Cornwall

H-Stobart

  • Farmed area 140ha
  • Cropping Winter wheat, winter barley, linseed, oilseed rape, spring oats and maize
  • Tractors – Valtra N167 with loader and New Holland TM125
  • Combine – Sampo Rosenlew 3065 with 5.1m header

“Two years ago it was again the unloading auger that caused issues – we had a problem with the drive shaft that required some major work to put right.

“Even without a Sampo dealer locally we can get parts overnight from importer Trials Equipment and can fix most things ourselves.

“If not, we are fortunate with independent ag engineers around here.”

What would you change to improve it?

“The 3065’s biggest downside is that the tank will only hold 5t – it could do with being at least 2t bigger and with that I would probably opt for a bigger header, too.

“It would also be great to be able to adjust the sieves on the move instead of having to stop and go around to the back to make any tweaks.”

Would you have another Sampo?

“Without doubt – it’s the perfect machine for us. It is very straightforward and rugged enough to handle our tough conditions. It rarely cuts clean, dry crops and it gets buried up to its axles at least twice a season. But most importantly, it’s easily repairable – we can fix nearly everything here on farm.”

Would you go for a John Deere-badged Sampo?

“That might seem the logical step, but to be honest the local Deere dealers are an unknown entity, so we wouldn’t get any better backup than using our regular repair men.”


Deutz Fahr 6090 HTS Balance

Richard Burniston, Yorkshire

Vital stats – 2012 model. 635 engine hours. Six straw-walkers, 310hp Deutz engine, 7m Biso VX header, 8,500-litre grain tank. “Balance” chassis levelling. Made in Croatia.

Deutz-Fahr-6090

Deutz Fahr 6090

What is its workload and how many hours has it done now?

Likes

  • High output for relatively small machine
  • Simplicity – low maintenance requirement and low parts prices
  • Responsive whole-body “Balance” levelling system

Gripes

  • Small tank and slow unloading
  • Weed build-up on over-serrated knife (Biso VX header)
  • Cab could be bigger

“The Deutz cuts 280-320ha each year, mainly on our home farm and on any banked ground, thanks to its body leveling system. Alongside that our Claas Lexion 570TT deals with another 425-485ha on the flatter ground we contract-cut.

“In the past four years the Deutz has clocked 635 engine hours.”

How has it performed?

“We know Deutz combines well, having had a good number of them over the years, and we like them for their simplicity.

The 6090 HTS has proved a strong performer and will generally manage 20-23t/hour in 10t/ha crops of standing wheat. When we are swathing straw it will typically use 10.5-12 litres of diesel a hectare.

The two star features of the Deutz are the hillsider system and the Biso header which, with its adjustable knife-to-auger clearance, is just brilliant for laid crops, although I’m not sure we could justify the expense next time.

With our old flat-land combine you would always have to pull the stick back when you got on to any sort of bank because losses would immediately start to climb. With the Balance system you can just keep going at the same pace regardless.

Farm facts

Richard Burniston and Son, East Yorkshire

Richard-Burniston

  • Farmed area 475ha plus 280ha contract combining
  • Cropping Winter wheat, sugar beet, spring barley, spring wheat, OSR and beans
  • Tractors Fendt 926, 716, 514 and 611, Deutz Fahr Agrotron M650, TTV 430, TTV 630, 6180 TTV, 165.7, Caterpillar Challenger 65B and John Deere 8335 RT
  • Loaders Claas Targo K60 and Sanderson TL7
  • Sprayer 3,500-litre Househam with 30m booms
  • Combines Claas Lexion 570TT and Deutz Fahr 6090 HTS Balance with 7.5m Biso header
  • Staff Richard Burniston plus five others full-time and two extra at harvest

“Interestingly, we had the same experience with the Lexion – when it arrived it didn’t have Claas’ 3D sieve system. Once we had it fitted, output jumped by 15-20%.

Has it been reliable?

“In its four years with us the Deutz has barely put a foot wrong, apart from a recurring issue with the straw walkers.

“Last harvest the steelwork just behind the front crank on the number four walker broke off and it happened again on number six this season – clearly the quality of the steel just isn’t up to the job.

“That said, the service we got from Deutz was brilliant. I ordered the new walker at 8am, the parts arrived at 3.20pm and we were up and running again by 7pm.

“It is the same story with Abreys, which deals with the Biso header stuff – we had an idler pulley go on the knife drive on a Monday night and by the following morning we had someone meeting us halfway to drop the bits off.”

What would you change to improve it?

“The tank size is just too small for a modern machine and the unloading speed is way too slow compared with the competition. In situations where it’s too wet to have trailers running on the field we quite often have to unload on the headland, so any time stopped is time lost harvesting.

“Simply having a bigger tank and faster discharge would make a huge difference.”

Would you have another Deutz?

“Sadly, I can see us moving away from Deutz when we next come to changing, because we need more output with these increasingly wet harvests.

“While hourly tonnages in the low 20s with the 6090 have been fine until now, we need to be closer to the 30t/hour mark if we are to cut all our crops in good time and at peak quality.

“We would like to stick with Deutz, but to do that would mean going to three machines, which we simply can’t justify.”


Massey Ferguson Delta 9280

Andrew Day, Hampshire

Vital stats – 2015 model. 225 engine hours. Twin-rotor hybrid threshing, 496hp Sisu 7-cylinder engine with AdBlue, 9.2m Powerflow header, 10,500-litre grain tank. Made in Italy.

Massey Ferguson Delta

Massey Ferguson Delta

Likes

  • Excellent fuel economy and engine performance
  • Overall performance – chopping quality and swathing similar to walkered combine
  • Dealer and manufacturer customer experience/support – first-class end to end

Gripes

  • AutoLevel option means reduced grain tank size – more frequent unloading
  • Top Con auto-steering was a struggle to set up initially
  • Cab on 2013 Delta was due an update – 2015 Skyline cabin a big improvement

When we first spoke to Andrew Day at Compton Manor Estates in Hampshire he was running a first-generation Massey Ferguson Delta. Two years on things have changed – the 2013 machine has been swapped for another of the same, this time a second-generation 9380.

What is its workload and how many hours has it done now?

“Having completed two harvests, the older combine had clocked up 467 engine hours, clearing about 560ha each season. This harvest the new combine has racked up 225 engine hours.

“We might seem over capacity, but having the Delta gives us the option to be more selective about when we cut.”

How did it perform?

“After some initial teething problems at the very start of harvest 2013 – the rotors were incorrectly assembled – the 9280 delivered near-faultless performance and impressive outputs, which ensured we stayed with Massey when changing this year.

“The second-generation machine is a bit thirstier on fuel over our previous Delta, yet still uses a very acceptable 50-60 litres/hour when chopping straw.

“Like the 2013 model, it will comfortably average 45t/hour on our steep banks and in our smaller fields. In bigger, flatter fields it can push 60t/hour.

“Once again, thanks to the AutoLevel full body chassis levelling, our losses remain low and lorry drivers often comment on the quality of the grain sample compared with collections elsewhere.

Farm facts

Compton Manor Estates, near Stockbridge, Hants

Andrew-Day

  • Farmed area 560ha. Estate 970ha
  • Cropping Winter wheat, OSR, spring barley, linseed and beans
  • Soils Heavy clay with flints and some chalk downland
  • Tractors MF 6499 and 6495, JCB Fastrac 2170
  • Loader Merlo P40.7
  • Combine MF Delta 9380 AL with 9.2m Powerflow header
  • Drill 4.8m Claydon hybrid
  • Staff Two full-time plus two others at peak times

“Our principal operator, Peter Jarvis, likes the new Skyline cab. The touchscreen terminal with its clear icons and controls, taken from Fendt forage harvesters, make it easy to set up and operate.

“It proved a very pleasant, smooth and quiet place to spend a day cutting in the sunshine – until mid-August.

“Although a 10.7m Powerflow header is now an option, we stuck with a 9.2m cutterbar because it better suits our small fields, steep banks and abundance of bomb holes.”

Has it been reliable?

“The new 9380 has been a progressive upgrade – it’s built better, engineered stronger and reliability is good. Barring a few shear-bolts towards the end of harvest in wet conditions, it too has proved faultless.

“We have had some software updates added during the season as there are lots of electrics that need to be kept in tip-top form.

“As always, backup is excellent when we need it from local dealer Romsey Agricultural Machinery. Massey delivered good training pre-delivery at its purpose-built training centre in Stoneleigh and followed this up with visits during the harvest to check if we were satisfied.”

What would you change to improve it?

“The 10.6m Powerflow header has been further improved and updated. It’s a shame the 9.2m hasn’t received the same upgrades – not yet anyway.”

Would you have another Delta?

“That is a definite ‘yes’. Massey continues to improve the quality and performance of its top-end harvesters. The Delta is a high-output, well-packaged machine.”


New Holland CR9070s

Ken Grimsdell, Leicestershire

Vital stats – Two 2013 models. 750 hours each. Twin-rotor threshing, 490hp Fiat engine with AdBlue, 9m header, 11,500-litre grain tank. Made in Belgium.

NEW-Holland

New Holland CR9070

Likes

  • Efficient size – header, grain tank and engine are all well matched
  • Simple to operate
  • Good on-screen info and set-up options

Gripes

  • Flimsy steps
  • Need to catch up with competition on software integration and telematics
  • Track/rear wheel suspension would make for a better ride

What is their workload and how many hours have they done?

“Between the two CRs they cut just shy of 1,400ha each year. We generally run the two together with a chaser-bin alongside to streamline logistics.

“In three seasons the two combines have clocked up 741 and 766 engine hours. Fuel use was 22.5 litres/ha.”

How have they performed?

“They generally manage an average of 30t/hour each, which matches the chaser-bin and our on-floor drying capacity nicely.”

Have they been reliable?

“We’ve only had one major breakdown in three years. A bearing on the main intake elevator failed on one machine in the first harvest. It meant changing the whole shaft, but we were back up and running again within five hours thanks to the excellent backup we get from our dealer, Murleys.

“The company also does all the routine winter servicing, given that the combines are contract hired.

“Even then it has only found one fault of any significance – a slight leak on a gearbox seal. In the main it has just been day-to-day items such as knives and fingers.”

Farm facts

R&T Ensor (Farmers), Leics

Ken Grimsdell

  • Farmed area 1,400ha
  • Cropping Winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape and beans
  • Soils Lights sands to medium clay loams
  • Tractors John Deere 8360T, 7260R and 6210R, New Holland T9060, T9.560, T7030 and T6080, Massey Ferguson 6480 x 2
  • Loaders 3 x Manitou MLTs; Sprayer – 6,200-litre John Deere R962i with 36m booms
  • Spreader Kuhn Rauch with 36m booms
  • Drills 9m Dale Drill, 8m Vaderstad Rapid
  • Combines 2 x New Holland CR070s with 9m headers

What would you change to improve them?

“They could probably do with another 50-60hp when we are chopping heavy crops of unfit straw. Going uphill the engines get dragged down the minute the unloading auger comes on.

“The tracks are great in the field, especially in providing an even table height when crossing tramlines.

“Traction is also brilliant – this year we had to use one to tow out a loaded tractor and trailer that had gone down in a badger sett.

“However, without suspension they are harsh – adding some sort of damping and gearing them up for faster road speeds would be a big advantage.

“Integration of the Intelliview computer with the machine itself and the Trimble GPS could be better – a lot of it we’ve had to work out for ourselves.

“There are loads of features to explore that could improve efficiency, but a lot seem to be dreamt up by boffins rather than people with practical in-field experience.

“We record loads of data, but making the most of it is a different story – New Holland’s own office PC software is fine, but it doesn’t integrate well with third-party programmes. That is a definite area for improvement.”

Would you have another CR?

“Yes, without a doubt. You can’t ask for better reliability. CRs are the machines I know better than anything – I have been involved with them as they have developed. We have flirted with other colours, but in the end we always revert to yellow.

“Murleys gives us fantastic service. We are debating when to change the combines right now, but given how well they are doing, it’s difficult to argue for a change.”