Video: At the wheel of a ‘gentle giant’ lifting 600ac in Co. Meath

AgriLand paid a visit to Broadleas Farm (near Stamullen, Co. Meath) to see its new Grimme self-propelled potato harvester in action.

John W Anderson spoke to James Hughes (pictured above), to find out why the machine was bought and how it’s faring thus far.

James explained: “This year, we purchased a new Grimme Varitron 220 Platinum machine.

Previous Grimme

“Previous to this, we had a [Grimme SF] 1700 DLS. It was getting on in age and, with Ivan’s operation here, we grow approximately 600ac of potatoes every year. We decided to update and get a new machine.

“There are big differences between the two machines; this new machine is more refined and more user-friendly. So far, so good; the weather has been perfect for digging and we’re getting on very well with it.

“The machine is performing about 20% better than the old one, primarily due to the bunker system on this one. It means that I don’t have to stop at headlands; I just lift the shares; lift the elevator; and keep driving.

“Previously, we would’ve had to stop, unload the machine with all the potatoes in it [and] start up again the far side.

“We’ve had no major issues with the machine so far. What Grimme has said this machine will do has turned out to be correct.

Grimme

“The machine is a lot more gentle on the crop than the previous [one], primarily due to the fact now that we have three webs on this machine. This reduces the intake angle, as opposed to the two webs on the previous [harvester].

It’s just a lot, lot gentler on the potatoes.

“The machine runs at 1,500rpm when it’s in full flow – the result being it’s a lot easier on diesel. Obviously, it has AdBlue, which is an added cost. [But] overall I would say the day-to-day running costs would be a lot cheaper than the previous machine.

“It also comes with its own self-greasing system, which is fantastic. I don’t have to get my hands dirty in the mornings anymore. It uses about three cartridges of grease every week.”

Turning his attention to the cab, James said: “There are major changes to the whole layout of the driving position.

“This particular one has the ErgoDrive system in it; I have two touch-screen boxes [and] the joystick has been upgraded.

“The forward/reverse, which wasn’t on the last joystick, is a big benefit. Instead of having to ‘joystick’ back to get the machine to stop, you just press a button – and it’ll automatically go from forward to reverse.

“This is a huge benefit turning on headlands.”

On-board cameras

The machine has a plethora of on-board cameras, which James describes as “fantastic”.

He explained: “I can see throughout the whole machine. If there’s a problem in any area, it automatically focuses on that area and alerts me to the fact that there’s a problem there. I can then, straight away, solve that.

“It does take a little bit of getting used to – using the cameras all the time. After a small period, it becomes natural to you.

“All told, you get off [the machine] at the end of the day and you’re not as tired, because you’re not turning the whole time to watch the elevator. The elevator is [now] just to my side; it’s a lot easier on the driver.

“Going forward, if this machine lasts 16 or 17 years like the previous one, we’ll be delighted with it.”