FW Inventions Competition 2021: Willie Dean’s Xtra Chop grass pick-up

Intermediate category winner

Willie Dean’s Xtra Chop

In an effort to get shorter, more consistent chop lengths in grass harvested with forage wagons, Willie Dean, of Clockeasy Contracting near Elgin, developed his front-mounted Xtra Chop kit.

The pre-chop system adds an extra 15 blades, vastly increasing his knife-carrying capacity and helping to knot the crop ahead of the wagon pick-up.

In doing so, it all but eliminates the problem of grass being fed into the wagons longways and therefore avoiding the blades altogether.

So far, he has built two units – both using the feed-in assembly of burnt-out Kuhn balers, which he picks up for about £1,000 and then extensively refurbishes.

To this, he attaches couplings for a Matbro-style cone and pin headstock that he carries on the tractor’s front linkage.

This includes hydraulic locking pins so that the units can be easily picked up and dropped off before leaving the field to unload, though he still has to jump out of the cab to deal with the pto – a snag in the system he’s currently working on overcoming.

See also: Tips and advice for buying a used forage wagon

This runs through a gearbox and shaft drive to the side of the machine, and he also has hydraulic couplings that allow him to drop the knife bank for blockages or blade changes, and to move the pick-up reel.

In work, Mr Dean travels a bit slower than when towing a forage wagon on its own to minimise the risk of choking the Xtra Cut unit.

Problems are rare in good grass, he says, but lumpy, wet crops increase the likelihood of blockages that can be difficult to spot from the cab.

Though he occasionally found problems feeding the chopped grass into his old Strautmann wagon, he reports no issues with his latest pair of Krone machines.

Power requirement is relatively low, he says, and running expenses extend to a set of knives per year.

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