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Disc Mower Head Cuts Small Grain Silage

There are many reasons why Martin A. Bruce of Darfield, New Zealand, designed and built his first "rotary front" attachment for silage harvesters.
  His header consists of a disc mower rather than the traditional double knife sickle-drive.
  "In about 1997-1998, whole crop silage made from small grains became popular in New Zealand. But many people found conventional heads were not efficient or reliable," Bruce explains. "You can only go 4 to 5 mph."
  However, with a disc-type head, Bruce says you can travel 12 to 15-mph in a light crop and still make a nice, clean cut. Also, it requires a lot less maintenance.
  According to Bruce, "sickle bars require knife sharpening two or three times a day to keep them cutting small grain crops efficiently. The disc mowing knives only need sharpening every few days."
  He says New Zealand farmers aim to take off their grain silage at 35 to 40 per cent dry matter, while the plants are still green, but the grain kernels are at a cheesy dough stage.
  In 1999, Bruce got to work building a better system. He bought two new Claas 8 1/2-ft. disc mowers and combined them into a single 16 1/2 ft. cutting head, which he fashioned to be compatible with his Claas harvester.
  "The following year, I modified the design for other custom harvesters," Martin explains. "I've now made 22 of them, with most being in the South Island of New Zealand. Two are in North Island, and one is in the UK. One is on a Deere, one is on a New Holland, and the rest are on Claas machines. Through several improvements over the five years, I've now got something that is reliable and does a good job. I've tried to keep parts common with Claas mowers, and to have readily available gearboxes and drive shafts."
  The driveshafts and gearboxes are all "Waltersheid," which are manufactured in Germany. A local engineer in Darfield, NZ, manufactures the rest of the machine.
  "We can custom build for different machines, and make them different widths. We accept international orders," Bruce adds. "Claas has now started manufacturing their own disc header which is possibly less expensive, but the advantage we have is that we can make them suitable for John Deere or New Holland equipment, too."
  The price for Bruce's 16 1/2-ft. "Quickcut Whole Crop Head" is about $52,000 U.S. ($74,000 NZ), plus freight. He says there's an opportunity for someone in North America to start manufacturing to supply the North American market.  
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Martin A. Bruce, Hororata, RD2, Darfield, Canterbury, New Zealand 8172 (ph 011 64 3 3180 778; email: mabruce@xtra.co.nz).


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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4