Maize harvest starts with a spin

Maize harvest has started with a slightly unconventional method for Devon contractors Luke Furse Earthmoving.

Push-loading technique… The three machines here totalled more than 1000hp.

After the battle with cereal harvest, a Caterpillar D6M LGP Bulldozer was used to push trailers through 100 acres of maize at Langaford Farm, Ashwater.

With more than 50cm (20in) of rain in the past three months – 50% more than average – field conditions are now almost impassable.

“We set off with the maize harvest team and, within hours, five tractors and trailers were bogged down to the axles,” says owner Luke Furse. “It was clear a four-wheel-drive tractor wasn’t going to be able to shift them.

“We made the decision to move a Caterpillar D6M LGP to the maize project and strapped three lorry tyres to the blade of the dozer with ratchet straps to avoid damaging the trailers.”

The team then used a technique called push loading, once a common practice in earth moving when cutting through heavy land and hillsides, with the dozer pushing the silage trailers alongside the forager.

“If we hadn’t used the bulldozer, we wouldn’t have been able to harvest about 60% of the maize on that farm,” Mr Furse adds. “Even the forager was sliding sideways.”

Because the Caterpillar has 1m-wide tracked pads and is a low-ground-pressure model, there was less soil damage than tractor ruts.