Reaseheath College agriculture students operated £1million-worth of technical machinery during the first silaging operation of the season.
The cutting edge machinery and equipment was loaned to the Cheshire college by local agricultural machinery dealerships who are supporting efforts to give Reaseheath students practical experience in precision farming.
First year agriculture students got the chance to operate the machinery and a carefully selected group of 30 joined the full time harvesting team under supervision, enabling the harvest of first cut grass silage over 200 acres to be carried out more efficiently. The students were involved in all parts of the operation, from mowing and raking to ferrying to the silage clamp.
Harvesting of 62 acres was completed over two days with the use of three mowers. The grass was wilted for 24 hours, half of the ideal time, and then collected as rain was predicted. Average volume was 21 tonnes fresh weight per hectare (8.5 tonnes/acre) with an estimated D Value 68, Dry Matter 24%, protein 16% and ME 10-11. Ecosyl 100 silage additive was used to aid fermentation.
The silage will be used in conjunction with maize silage, wholecrop wheat and lucerne haylage to feed the Reaseheath Holstein milking herd from the end of June this year.
Said Farm Manager Mark Yearsley: “This was a great opportunity to give the first year students hands-on experience of the silaging process using top of the range machinery. The weather was against them but they carried out the whole operation from preparing the clamps to sealing them when finished very safely and competently.
“Some students will go on to work on farms and some will be employed by contractors. They now have the foundation and confidence to become quality staff.”
Dealerships who loaned machinery included RVW Pugh Ltd., of Holmes Chapel, which delivered a top of the range Fendt 716 tractor, Massey Ferguson tractor and a Vicon mower conditioner. Speaking for all his colleagues, Area Sales Manager Bob Cooper said: “We were delighted to help Reaseheath on this project. These students are the next generation of farmers and they will be our future customers. It was only fitting that they should be able to see first hand the enormous technological advances which are being made within the industry.”
Dealerships which loaned machinery for the silaging operation were:
- Morris Corfield (CLAAS Arion 530, CLAAS mower and twin rotor rake)
- RVW Pugh (Fendt 716, Massey Ferguson 6616 and Vicon trailed mower)
- John Bownes (Valtra T213 and Richard Western 14t silage trailer)
- Malpas Tractors (New Holland T6-140)
- Stamford Agricultural Services (Case Puma 160 and Pottinger mower)
- Agricultural Machinery Nantwich / Cornthwaites (JD6130R)
- Harry West (Two 10t trailers)
- Gunn JCB ( TM320s)
- Hired in from Harry Wilson (CLAAS Jag 870)