German handler and Japanese hatchback
This week we test a Schaffer 8620T articulated loader's cleaning-out abilities and get behind the wheel of the diesel Honda Civic.

In this week’s machinery section, we test-drive the Schäffer 8620T. The German-built articulated telescopic loader proved its worth cleaning out a winter fattening shed with more than enough lift capacity and reach to get into the most hard to reach corners.

The 122hp Deutz engine had plenty of power to spin the wheels on the wet concrete and operate the telescopic boom simultaneously.

According to Honda, the latest incarnation of the Civic is the beginning of the fight back for diesel engines.

Alistair Chambers test-drove the restyled hatchback. With 120hp, this car is no slouch and is well able to get up to the speed limit with very little fuss.

Even off road the Civic kept its composure on bumpy country roads. For those looking in the compact car market, it’s worth a look.

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Tractor safety: it's in your hands

Amazone: where it all began

Two injured in under-age tractor driving incident
Police in Northern Ireland said two juveniles were injured in an incident with a tractor driven by a third one.

The PSNI's Cookstown unit said on its Facebook page that it joined two ambulances and paramedics at the scene in Coagh, Co Tyrone this Sunday.

"Two juveniles fell from a tractor being driven by a third juvenile," police said. "Both sustained injuries significant enough that they required transfer by ambulance to hospital. The tractor should not have been on the road and should not have been carrying passengers."

Officers have prepared a file for the Public Prosecution Service against the driver for "a range of offences," adding that the incident "could have been a lot worse".

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Disqualified driver charged with driving tractor without insurance

PSNI clampdown on quadbike helmets

Contractors 'paying the price for planning deficit' in untidy silage fields
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has reported high levels of stones and debris causing machinery damage during silage making.

According to the FCI, stone and fallen tree branch damage to machines, coupled with damage caused by unrolled and heavily-rutted fields, neglected yards, fences and field entrances are a huge cost concern for silage contractors.

"Silage contractors are now paying the price for the advice given to farmers not to roll land, for fear of stunting grass growth," said FCI chief executive Michael Moroney. "Silage contractors have picked up everything from boulders to bed frames, with one contractor taking a full-size field gate into a new and expensive self-propelled mower," he added.

Diesel costs

According to the association, the resulting breakdowns have caused delays for other farmers and put time pressure on contractors, increasing health and safety risks for their employees. This is in addition to elevated fuel prices. With agricultural diesel currently 75c/l more expensive than last year, the FCI calculated the extra cost for a modern silage harvesting system to be in excess of €500 per day.

“We need farmers to understand that to achieve efficiencies from the modern silage harvesting machinery that Irish contractors are continuously investing in, fields and yards must be in a condition to allow these machines and their operators to perform to their optimum for cost-effective harvesting. That demands a basic level of farm planning and land management which most farmers must understand,” Moroney said.

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Contractors racing through first cuts

Getting on top of grass quality

In pictures: silage 2018 hits top gear