A swather, a splasher and 100 years of Deere
In this week’s machinery section we look at a Shelbourne Reynolds swather which is being used to great effect and look at irrigating potatoes in Waterford.

The swathing of oilseed rape is not a common sight in Ireland. So when a swather was spotted working in Kildare we had to have a look.

On a vegetable farm in Waterford, one farmer is using aningenious slurry spreader to irrigate his crop without the expense of a major irrigation system.

We found that the Twin Moscha was throwing the water 24m and looked like it was going to be the saviour of this farmer’s crops during this unprecedented dry spell.

Peter Gaffney was the lucky winner of a competition to attend John Deere’s 100 years of tractor production in Europe. He has written an account of the trip and tells us of the highlights and the people and machines he encountered.

With the weather as it is, there is a serious need to be extra careful. There are numerous stories of machines having near misses where the slightest spark or heat has occurred. In order to reduce the risks of this, machine maintenance and the clearance of dust and chaff should be undertaken every day at least.

If there is not a fire extinguisher already on the machine or tractor which you are driving then getting one that can be at hand is advised in these conditions or at least know where a good water supply or extinguisher is located close to where you are working.

Most importantly, be extra vigilant and safe when working in this weather.

NI ploughing seasons heats up
It's not all about Tullamore when it comes to competitive ploughing in the next few days, with the Northern Ireland ploughing match and championships coming up.

The 75th Northern Ireland International Ploughing Championships and Five Nations Ploughing Contest will take place on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 September in Eglinton, Co Derry.

The event, organised by the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association on the Craig farm, will feature tractor and horse classes, young farmers' fencing and soil assessment competitions, lawnmower racing and family entertainment.

Before this, the Northern Ireland Vintage Ploughing Championships are scheduled for Saturday 22 September on the Coulter farm in Hillsborough, Co Down.

Also on 22 September, the Society of Ploughmen NI is holding its annual ploughing match on Lord Dunleath's estate in Kircubbin, Co Down.

The range of classes will include a 12" World Style class, which organisers said would act as a warm-up before the following week's championships.

There will also be a young farmer class and a baking competition on the day.

Harvesting advice for soft and wet grass this autumn
Peter Thomas Keaveney offers readers some tips and advice on the best way to deal with the harvesting of soft and wet grass over the next few weeks.

After our drought-stricken summer, farmers around the country have found themselves in various tricky scenarios. Many farmers were forced to graze second-cut silage ground and as a result are attempting to gather late second-cut silage while more farmers are bidding to gather a late third cut after a poor yield of second-cut silage.

Regardless of the scenario, harvesting grass in late September and October is very different to harvesting grass in May or June. The fact that the days are getting shorter means there’s more of a dew on the grass and there are less hours of sunshine, two features that may prove very difficult to get any kind of a desirable wilt.

Mowing and tedding

In an ideal scenario, we want to cut the grass when the crop is as dry as possible. A standing crop will dry much faster than a crop that has been cut. When mowing, it is advisable to maximise the surface area of the grass that’s cut in order to maximise the wilt.

The next question is should farmers shake out grass after mowing at this time of the year? There is no correct answer to this question as it’s dependent on the individual situation.

If there is a suitable break in the weather for a desirable wilt, then yes, tedding the grass is the correct option. Preservation of grass with a low dry matter (DM) and a high nitrogen (N) content is a big challenge so we need to obtain a suitable wilt if possible.

However, if the grass is leafy, the increased machinery interaction may lead to a loss of material.

In addition, if farmers are forced into cutting and harvesting grass in wet weather, perhaps then tedding is not a suitable option. In this situation also consider the option of using an additive to aid preservation.


McHale technician James Heanue explained that farmers/contractors need to make sure the springs in the pick-up reel of balers are tensioned to ensure the pick-up will float on the ground. This avoids contamination with soil, especially when ground conditions begin to deteriorate. Missing tines should be replaced to help gather all of the sward. James added that raking of grass is beneficial at this time of the year especially in lighter crops to help make a good solid bale. In addition to this, bale density should be increased as the moisture levels are high, this will help to reduce the sagging of bales.

He advised that farmers/contractors should keep the auto greaser filled to keep any unwanted water out of bearings. The auto greaser will continuously feed grease into bearings thus pushing out any water. Chains should also be well-tensioned to help deal with the increased pressure load due to the heavier bales.

Handling and storage of bales

Gathering bales directly after they have been wrapped is of critical importance. Wet bales of soft fresh grass have a tendency to lose their shape very quickly. Fixed handlers and smaller tractors will struggle to handle bales made in this autumn period. To avoid this, farmers may need to look at alternative methods in advance of handling bales.

As a result of bales being so wet and heavy, additional net and wrap must be applied. This will help to further support the structure of the bale and will aid preservation.

A minimum of three layers of net would be advisable when using a combination baler. If using a standard baler, 3.5 layers would be advisable and possibly additional net if the bales are being transported before wrapping.

Dermot Forristal of Teagasc Oakpark said that research he carried out a number of years ago showed that better preservation of silage took place where six layers of plastic were applied in comparison to four layers. However, when the handling of bales was good in desirable silage harvesting conditions, satisfactory results could be achieved from four layers. For dealing with the soft wet grass over the next few weeks, Dermot would advise farmers to apply six layers of plastic over four.

Where possible, the stacking of very wet bales should be avoided. Stacked wet bales can cause a breakdown in the layer of film, an increased amount of effluent and can affect preservation. In addition, bales should always be stored away from any watercourses.

Forage wagon

Pöttinger technician Ben Stokes explained that farmers/contractors will need to run the pick-up reel of the forage wagon much closer to the ground in order to gather all of the short lush grass.

As a result of running the pick-up closer to the ground, a full complement of tines is essential and forward speed should be reduced.

He added that operators need to be aware of the heavier load posed on the forage wagon at this time of the year.

“There is a significant weight difference between a load of dry silage in June and a load of very wet silage in October so operators need to account for this,” said Ben.

Ben indicated that tyre pressure should be monitored for two reasons. Firstly, a machine parked in a shed for a few weeks in between cuts may have a tyre with a slow puncture, and when a significant load is placed on this tyre it will not be able to withstand the weight. Secondly, as ground conditions begin to deteriorate, a lower ground pressure is best to reduce damage to soils and farmers should take this into consideration as ground condition deteriorates.

Take home message

  • Due to the high moisture content, bales will be very heavy (up to a tonne) and will lose shape quickly after being baled so farmers must have a suitable handling method in place immediately after baling.
  • Bales should receive additional net and wrap (six wraps over four), likewise pits must be well covered and sealed to ensure maximum preservation is achieved.
  • If harvesting conditions are wet the likelihood is that there will be a significant amount of effluent released from the silage. Farmers need to ensure this effluent is managed appropriately.
    Claas boosts power for new Jaguar 880 harvester
    Claas has added a new higher power 800 Series self-propelled silage harvester to its range, with the arrival of the 626hp Claas Jaguar 880.

    Claas has added a new higher-power 800 Series self-propelled silage harvester to its range, with the arrival of the 626hp Claas Jaguar 880. This harvester will only be available in the UK, Ireland and the US, according to Claas.

    The 880 fills a power gap in the harvester range, giving contractors the choice of two 626hp models, the new Jaguar 880 or the higher specification Jaguar 960 from the 900 Series models. Claas believes this new machine can be the replacement for those running older 623hp Jaguar 900 harvesters.

    Claas claims the straight crop flow through the forager progressively increases the crop speed from about 4.8 metres/second as it enters the forager, to 68 metres/second as it leaves the blower/accelerator. It claims this feature ensures minimal power requirement.

    This new Jaguar 880 is powered by a straight six-cylinder Mercedes Tier 4F compliant engine; the same engine as used on the Jaguar 960. This engine comes with the option of the Dynamic Power system, which is designed to automatically alter engine power relative to load. Drive to the front axle is through a 40km/h, two-speed hydrostatic transmission.

    The new Jaguar 880 comes with the latest colour Cebis control terminal, with function screens accessed using either the main rotary switch or the Hot Key which provides direct access to pre-selected functions.

    Using Cebis control system, Claas claims that the operator is able to set a reminder as to when the knives need sharpening or the shearbar adjusting after a set operating time has elapsed. And on harvesters fitted with Quantimeter, a reminder can also be set after a set yield quantity of grass or maize has been harvested.

    In addition to Opti Fill, which enables the spout to swivel over a range of 225 degrees with automatic return to the transport position, there is the option of Auto Fill, which uses a 3D camera that determines the trailer body dimensions and fill depth to automatically control the spout.

    The Jaguar 880 can also be fitted with the Claas GPS pilot automatic steering system and for data recording the Cebis system can store up to 20 job records. Using Claas Telematics, a far wider range of machine setting and operating data can be recorded and stored online, and viewed using any web-enabled device. This feature allows the harvester to be remotely monitored, for daily productivity to be analysed and for overall seasonal performance data to be assessed.

    This new Jaguar 880 is fitted with a continuous high pressure, 210-bar hydraulic system using large diameter hydraulic lines, which Claas claims provide increased capacity and rapid hydraulic reaction times.

    The quick-attachment coupler allows the Jaguar 880 to use higher throughput header units from the Jaguar 900 range, including the Claas 300 grass pickup.

    The machine is available with the option of the Stop Rock detection system. The crop is chopped with the V-Classic 20-blade chopping cylinder, rather than the curved blade system on the Jaguar 900 Series models.

    Claas claims that the V blade chopper gives a range of six chop lengths from 5mm to 21mm with the standard 20 blade chopping cylinder. For further crop processing, the Jaguar 880 has the Multi Crop L 250mm maize cracker fitted as standard.

    The standard specification includes a 1,000 litre diesel tank and 130 litre Ad Blue tank, with the option of an additional 300 litre diesel tank.