Mowing the Country: Interview with Demo Driver Ben Buckley
As the Krone BigM 450 demo tour is mowing its way across the country, we caught up with demo driver Ben Buckley to find out more:
First off can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I’m from South Dublin, so not farming at home myself. However, I have always travelled down to spend time working on my Uncle’s dairy farm near Mallow.
How did you come to be driving the demo BigM 450?
As soon as I got my provisional license I began working for Coolmona Agri Services. They cover a large dairy area so mostly I was drawing silage, spreading slurry and reseeding. From this I chose to study Agricultural Engineering at IT Tralee. At this year’s FTMA in Punchestown I found out Farmhand were looking for a demonstrator to drive the BigM 450. Delighted to hear this, I jumped at the opportunity and shortly after being interviewed I joined the team at Farmhand!
What places have you visited on the demo tour so far?
I started in Waterford on the home farm of O’Donnell’s crisps. From there I moved towards Kilkenny, across Tipperary, to Cork and into Limerick. At this point, first cuts in the south of the country were becoming scarce so we loaded up and headed west. We’ve spent the last two weeks covering Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Leitrim.
What have the conditions been like?
So far it has been a great summer for demonstrating the BigM 450, with the weather conditions so good we have had very little down time. There has been some difference in silage across the country and after completing over 30 demonstrations, I can certainly say the West of Ireland has shown the heaviest cuts.
What has impressed you the most on your tour?
For a small country you really wouldn’t realise the quality of machinery across all counties. Turns out you’re never too far from an 828 Fendt or a 6250R John Deere!
What are people saying about the machine?
In the first ten minutes of each demonstration I get positive feedback in terms of visibility, power and user friendliness. Everyone is surprised at how agile the BigM is for a large Machine! As one man put it “for a Dublin jackeen you’re well able to handle her in a tight spot” as I slipped through what looked like a 10 foot gap between two stone walls. Finally, when we finish and it’s time to top up the tank the contractors always start smiling when they see how economical the BigM is.
Any negative feedback?
After moving from softer soils of Co. Roscommon into Co. Cork, I noticed the machine was not mowing as cleanly as it should. I examined the conditions and realised that the harder ground was causing the mower to rise in rougher parts of the field. So, I edited the ground pressure settings via the touch screen monitor and increased the weight of the mower beds on the ground. This obtained the clean results I had been achieving previously in the space of 20 seconds.
What is your favourite feature of the machine?
After mowing 1,200 acres I can definitely say that the cruise control feature on the joystick coupled up with the TopCon GPS system makes light work of mowing with the BigM 450. Instead of looking to your left or right hand side, the GPS allows you to scan the ground evenly ahead and spot any foreign objects before it’s too late.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on the demo?
While mowing with a contractor, I encountered one of the heaviest crops so far. I asked the contractor would we be mowing it out flat or grouping it. He replied, “Grouping it of course”. We finished mowing the 30-acre field and I commented that his harvester would know all about picking those monster swarths. He replied, “Oh don’t worry, I won’t be picking them at all, we only do the mowing here, a rival contractor bales this every year”. He informed me that they usually mow it in 10-foot swarths for him, but this year he will be tackling 32 feet and 8 inches of Irelands heaviest first cut in one swarth with his brand new baler.
Where are you off to next?
For the week ahead I will be covering all of County Cork moving up along the Midlands and finally to the North of Ireland.