‘Ploughing 2018’: Irish machine has a new twist on grass…but turns heads too

Product innovation is a feature that many manufacturers are always keen to highlight when marketing their machinery.

To what extent they are justified in doing so varies, but there can be no doubt that Acres Machinery is well ahead when it comes to taking traditional concepts and shaking them up.

Some time ago, the firm announced a partnership with Sitrex of Italy (an entity that is already well established as a manufacturer of grass and forage machinery).

Early fruits of this union are now becoming available to farmers; Acres Machinery’s novel creation is now on display at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.

The machine in question is known as the ‘Supercrop1’; it’s best described as a forage management tool, for it can perform several tasks that were the once the preserve of (separate) dedicated machines.

The focus of the design is upon managing the wilting process of a crop once it has been mown. This is key to preserving the nutrients contained within the grass, maintains David Doran (founder of Acres Machinery).

The machine can apparently perform several major tasks in the hay and silage-making process. These include: raking; conditioning; and spreading or grouping – although the ‘base unit’ on its own will only perform the first two.

To extend the machine’s functionality, it can be fitted with a tedder or a belt-type grouper at the rear. The system is modular, so it can be configured (on the farm) to suit the weather and field conditions.

In addition to the novel design of the Supercrop1 itself, the company has invested in a new ordering system, whereby the farmer can order and pay for the machine online.

However, the Stitrex-Acres entity does not intend to displace the dealer from the sales process. The machines will still need to be demonstrated, “installed” and serviced at farm level.

How does this approach work? Once a farmer has expressed an interest in purchasing a machine (via the company’s website) the nearest dealer is alerted (who then arranges a demonstration, if required).

If the customer decides to order, then the manufacturing and delivery process swings into action – with each stakeholder in the chain being alerted and advised of the due date (and the current stage of the manufacturing progress).

Acres Machinery receives the payment and forwards the commission to the dealer. The dealer is not required to make any sort of investment, but agrees to service the machine in the field (upon receipt of the appropriate fee from the manufacturer).

Putting such a system in place to compliment dealer sales is, David happily admits, a “huge risk”, but it’s part of the process of bringing “fresh thinking” to the machinery trade.