Discovering that special ‘niche’ to exploit, has long been the aim of many farmers looking to diversify away from the routines which, for want of a better description, we tend to term as being ‘general farming’.
For Simon Starr Left) and his father Ken, that search has resulted in the implementation of a number of projects which now make a useful contribution to the farming and contracting business they run from their base at Barham, Kent.
While Ken operates a pheasant and partridge rearing enterprise – the birds being sold to estates and shoots throughout the UK – Simon concerns himself with expanding a contracting business which offers a complete baled silage, haylage, straw and hay baling service along with a straw re-processing operation which results in dust-free bagged straw for the equine market.
“We are always striving to find that different angle we can apply to farming operation which, in the main, tend to be already well supported by contractors,” he says. “Such ideas are not easy to come by but if you get one you have to grab it firmly with both hands.”
The business currently runs three KRONE BiGPack large square balers – two BiG pack 1290 HDP and one 1270 Multibale with an on-board pre-chop system. There is also a KRONE CombiPack baler-wrapper.
Last year, the business took delivery of a new KRONE triple mower combination – an EasyCut B 870 CV Collect which is due to be launched by KRONE at the grassland event. With its three disc mower conditioner units it creates an 8.7m total cutting width and the integral overlap system helps to avoid missed strips when working across banks or making turns.
“The mower units with their conditioners were pretty well established and well proven items,” he says. “But it was the decision to also have a system which could create a single, central swath that really set it apart from other triple mowers. “The KRONE Collect system uses hydraulically powered wide cross belts having riveted feed bars to convey the cut grass from the two rear mower units on to the centre swath created by the front mounted mower.”
“The main reason we purchased the Collect system was to provide a service for customers who are ensiling grass in the first year of a ley when the ground may still be susceptible to having soil and stones pulled out of it by rakes, or their land is just naturally stony,” he explains. “There’s not only the damage to the forager to consider but also the contamination of the finished silage. The Collect creates a single swath avoiding the need for a pass with a rake so there are potential gains to be had by the customer and ourselves.”
He adds that it is also possible to use just one side of the Collect system when mowing headlands to create a clean 3m- wide strip away from the hedge line where there may be limited sunlight available.
The B 870 CV Collect triple mower has been powered by a 240hp Fendt 724 but this is set to change this year when it partners a 360hp Fendt 936. Mr Starr comments that while the 724 had ample power when mowing on reasonably level ground, it struggled on steep land to maintain output – hence the change.
“The output of the mower combination, depending on field size, is in the 100 acre/day zone but the real point is that we can complete fields in a time which has little effect on the wilting progress of the whole field,” he explains. “This helps to negate the possibility of variations in DM percentages across the field when baling for, say, haylage which can be a bit critical.”
Last year Mr Starr reports that he mowed 700 acres but, as the word spreads, he hopes he can take on significantly more acres this year.
“Last year the performance of the B 870 CV Collect proved that the mower is certainly capable of greater acreages,” he says. “It does an excellent job in all crop conditions and the Collector perhaps provides the ‘niche’ customer service we’ve been looking for.”