With a later-ripening crop and the customary Scottish weather to deal with, Hugh Broad's harvest window tends to be much shorter than most. Based in Gifford, near Edinburgh, Hugh grows 800 hectares of combinable crops across his home farm and seven further contract-farmed units, producing a mixture of winter and spring barley, winter wheat, winter and spring oats plus OSR. For harvest 2020, Hugh invested in an Axial-Flow 8250 combine harvester to get the harvest in as quickly as possible.
"While our acreage isn't particularly huge, we need to have a decent-sized combine because of our northerly location," explains Hugh. "We don't usually begin our main harvest until the third week in August, but we are looking to complete autumn cultivations and sowing by the first week in October, so we only have a small window to get all the crop in, often in catchy conditions. We look to harvest 40-50 hectares/day but this is dependent on field size and, of course, weather conditions!"
Hugh bought a 2-year old Axial-Flow 9120 in 2014 before upgrading to an ex-demonstrator 8250 with 35ft header for 2020. "80% of our straw is chopped and so we were keen to upgrade and take advantage of the Xtra-Chop system on the back of the 250 series, which is very effective. This series also has a wider aperture on the back than our previous machine, which is good for handling large volumes of straw when you are working in often damp conditions and therefore reduces the risk of blockages."
The ex-demonstrator machine came fitted with the new Case IH Harvest Command automation technology, which Hugh tested out when harvesting some earlier crop at the start of the season. "There are a lots of sensors and settings to help you automate the harvesting process so we are looking forward to learning what is possible this year and what settings work best in our conditions – we have already seen that the grain quality camera works really well and is very useful," he comments. "We've also now got higher level guidance fitted and this is a major advantage and something I wish I had switched to earlier," he continues.
Hugh has also seen a number of benefits by moving to a tracked machine:
"The Axial-Flow is a relatively light harvester anyway, but moving to tracks means we tread really lightly on the ground and prevent damage to the soil. Before, we had very wide 1050 tyres that could be clumsy on the road and even compared to those very large tyres, the tracks give us 50% greater footprint and also really help to increase stability of the header, which is important on our undulating terrain," Hugh explains.
"We did look around when we were researching our next combine, but when we weighed everything up, the Case IH machine came out on top. Comfort-wise, the Axial-Flow has one of the more roomy cabs out there and lots of little extras, such as the fridge in the cab, that are really welcome. Accessibility for maintenance and repairs is also excellent and other new features like the adjustable, folding spout and the bigger Pro 700 screen just improve the overall experience and make life easier. However, when choosing any new piece of machinery, we look closely at servicing and ownership costs and here it was the lower overall lifetime maintenance costs on the Axial-Flow that really clinched the deal for us. This, together with the great service support we've had from Case IH and dealer WM Rose & Sons in recent years, is the reason we stuck to the Axial-Flow series."