Canterbury contractor Steve Murray has been using New Holland self-propelled forage harvesters for 20 years but says his newest machine, an FR650, is in a league of its own. The New Holland FR650 is part of the company’s FR Forage Cruiser line-up, which offers more capacity, superior operator comfort and exceptional fuel efficiency.
Steve runs his family business, BA Murray Ltd, in the Rangiora District and provides a range of services, including silage, hay, balage, cultivation, seeding and general contracting.
“We have had New Holland FR harvesters, and before that FX harvesters, going back to 1998,” he says. “We like New Holland for their reliability and the strength of their harvesters. They are very strong, which is one of the major reasons we have stuck with them. We are very impressed with the build quality.”
In recent years, Steve has owned New Holland FR600, FR9060 and FR9050 models. He bought the FR650 last season and says it is a huge improvement on the FR600.
“We bought the FR9060 and FR9050 models, but this new FR650 is very much stronger again. It’s just at another level and the strength is incredible,” he says.
“The FR650 is more fuel-efficient. It delivers more horsepower, at 653 hp, and yet it’s burning less fuel.” The FR650 has the new six-cylinder Cursor 16 engine, which is designed specifically for forage harvesting. It delivers almost instantaneous transient response. Steve says the FR9060, which was a similar machine to the FR600, used to burn about 100 litres of diesel an hour, while the FR600 burns about 80 litres an hour.
“The new FR650 only burns about 55 litres an hour, and for a machine that has another 60 hp more, that’s amazing,” he says. “They say you can get a 20 percent fuel saving with it and we would have done that at least over again. We are burning just under half what we used to burn.
We can run this thing in Eco mode and it will still deliver its full horsepower. Its power is instantaneous, although when you are harvesting grass silage it isn’t working as hard as it would be on maize. We did use it on maize last year, and the increase in productivity was outstanding.”
The New Holland FR650 self-propelled forage harvester features a number of technological improvements, including the feed rollers and cutterheads. FR Forage Cruisers feature one of the largest cutterheads in the industry, both in width and diameter, which means it can power through heavy crop effortlessly. The chevron knife design chops cleanly, quickly and uniformly.
The cutterhead is available in three configurations to match the specific chopping requirements. The options are 2x8, 2x10 and 2x12 knives for a length of cut range of 6-33 mm, 5-27 mm and 4-22 mm respectively. The Hydroloc feed roll drive system enables the operator to adjust the length of cut to match crop conditions on the go.
“We are seeing a better performing machine because of these technological advances,” Steve says.
“We have been doing work with the New Holland test team that developed this machine ever since the FR harvesters started in New Zealand. The developments that have gone into this machine, we first saw three or four years ago. Performance wise, I don’t think there is a harvester around like it in this horsepower range.”
Steve says the FR650 is easy to use. The autoload function allows for automatic loading of trucks to 75 percent full before the operator needs to take over manually.
“It offers yield mapping with GPS data, crop moisture readings and an efficient metal detection system and outstanding pickup.”
However, Steve says the fuel saving is one of the FR650’s key benefits. “We can’t charge anymore for the work we are doing, because the farmers aren’t getting paid anymore for the products they are producing, so we have to find efficiencies in our operation.
“We have increased our mowing and raking capacity to feed the harvester and are now doing less runs down the paddock because we are putting more material through the machine at less fuel usage.”
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