When Nathan and Sarah Wilson and Allan Hall established their contracting business Hall & Wilson Ltd in 2014, they ran a John Deere 7380 self-propelled forage harvester for the first two years. They then upgraded to a John Deere 8500 model.
Nathan says the new SPFH offers lots of advantages and improvements.
“The 8500 was a new machine from the ground up. We watched its development closely, and compared to the earlier model it is like night and day.
“I have worked for various contractors who ran John Deere foragers and I was always impressed with their reliability and performance,” he says.
One of the improvements the 8500 offers is better serviceability. The designers have made it far more accessible for maintenance and mechanical work. Also the cab is more comfortable and provides outstanding visibility.
“When we change seasons from grass to maize and wind the kernel processor into position, the linkage automatically removes the grass transition chute,” Nathan says.
The cutter head has seen big improvements as well. It has a completely new dual header drive system, which allows the operator to fine tune the auger and the speed of the grass pick up.
The speed differential between the two rollers in the 8500’s kernel processor is 40 percent, compared to 32 percent in the 7000. Nathan says the new version is better at pulverising the kernel, which is what farmers want to see because it means stock better utilise the grain.
Hall & Wilson is based near Otorohanga, and their silage season generally starts in September and runs through until April. In that time the forage harvester covers 1500-2000 ha of grass and 650-700 ha of maize.
Maize is a big part of the business because a lot of farmers use it as an integral part of their farming systems.
“Our business covers the area from Te Awamutu to Pio Pio, so the contours can vary from flat to steep. The 8500 handles it all extremely well and is very efficient and productive.”
Nathan says they are very satisfied with their local dealer and main supplier, AGrowQuip.
“AGrowQuip plays a big part in keeping our business moving. If we have a breakdown, we know we can rely on them to provide prompt, reliable and efficient service so we can get the machine operational as quickly as possible.
“They always have parts in stock and the staff are fully-trained and passionate about what they do,” he says.
Hall & Wilson runs seven John Deere tractors. They work with an assortment of sub-contractors during the harvest season, and while it is not a requirement that they have green tractors, most do.
Nathan says nearly all of their tractors range from 200 to 250 hp. Any Deere tractor this size can cultivate, plough, bale, and handle pretty much whatever is demanded of it.
There is only one smaller tractor (110 hp) in the fleet. It is used to load and stack bales and pull the twin-rotor rake in front of the baler.
The oldest tractor is a 2011 John Deere 7530 on 9500 hours. They also have a 6150R, 6190R, 6110M, 6215R and have ordered a 6195M.
The ‘R’ models all have 50 kph road speeds and Hall & Wilson have specified one of theirs with an infinitely variable transmission (IVT) and one with Direct Drive.
Nathan says IVT is good for jobs like mowing and baling where you have to vary the speed of the tractor depending on the crop.
The IVT tractors are also set up with AutoTrac. They have highly accurate SF3 correction, which gives savings in time, fuel, fertiliser and seed, and reduces operators’ fatigue.
The 6150R is now the main planter tractor, and with SF3 it ensures perfect seed placement.
The 6215R was new last spring and came fully equipped with front linkage and PTO and Direct Drive transmission. It is the main cultivation tractor. It pulls deep rippers and a 5m power harrow. It is already on 1400 hours after just one season.
“We find the performance in the paddocks with the Direct Drive is really good and out-performs all the other tractors at putting power to the ground.”
Hall & Wilson’s latest tractors and the forager have JDLink. Nathan says it automatically informs John Deere of any fault.
AGrowQuip can see data on their laptop, tablets or phones if it is throwing a code, and they come out and deal with it. JDLink is really good at supporting our business.”
The new tractors also have their data streamed to John Deere Operations Center, which records all critical information about the machines, such as when servicing is due, productivity, where they are, and what they are doing.
“This is particularly handy when Sarah is looking for us to bring out fuel. She can see where we are working on her phone.”
Nathan says the team at Hall & Wilson prides themselves on the service they provide their customers. The reliability, quality and productivity of their John Deere machines help them achieve that.
-Paul Titus, Rural Contracting Magazine 2019