MAJOR topper helps train farmers of the future

Students training for a career in agriculture at Askham Bryan and Newton Rigg College benefit from plenty of practical experience with the tools of the trade, whether in supervised operation or when carrying out farm duties as part of their course.

Machinery used on the college farm has to be safe, robust and easy to use, and a new MAJOR Cyclone is ticking all these boxes.

“We have four farms across the two sites, including a new £2m dairy unit for the 240-cow herd,” explains Head of Farms Matt Bagley. “They offer students hands-on experience of a commercial herd; milk yields average 11,300 litres and we rear our own replacements.”

The MAJOR Cyclone topper is used across all of the farms, including on the hill farm where a HLS agreement means that rushes have to be tackled later in the season, when there is plenty of growth.

Game cover crops are cut to tidy them up ahead of the autumn, and the Cyclone also does general topping duty on permanent pasture.

Chopping maize stubbles is an increasingly important task on farms ahead of incorporation, and the Cyclone had an extra task on the maize ground last autumn as Mr Bagley explains: “Some of the maize had gone down in the wind and the rain, so we needed to mulch it, and the Cyclone did a great job.”

He adds that he can rely on the Cyclone to tackle every job put to it with ease. “It has to be robust, not just because of the workload, but also to cope with multiple operators, and also straightforward for the students to use.”

Mr Bagley explains that local dealer Carrs Billington suggested trying the MAJOR Cyclone mower and he was immediately impressed: “We’ve had other pieces of Major equipment in the past, and the range has the reputation for being good quality and reliable. It’s not the cheapest, but I liked the design – each rotor is driven by its own gearbox, which spreads the load.”

The 2.8m working width gives plenty of capacity while remaining within the tractor width for safe road transport. Mr Bagley adds: “We can run the pto at 1000rpm which gives a high tip speed for a quality finish in heavy growth, but equally it’s a machine you can use in conditions where you wouldn’t want to run a mower, such as for mulching maize stubbles.”

Cut height remains in the middle setting, which works well for the tasks in hand, and he reports that operators have not experienced any blockages or other issues. “In heavy going, they have triggered the shearbolts a couple of times, and it’s good for them to know that such safety features work!”

With a range of tractors at the farm’s disposal, the Cyclone is usually pulled by a New Holland T6 or MF6716, and Mr Bagley comments that while the 140hp is more than adequate, the ability to run at 1000rpm ECO saves fuel.

It’s early days for the Cyclone, which was delivered in summer 2018, so Mr Bagley has had no cause to call on Carrs Billington for parts, but praises their service in supplying and setting up the mower.

“We’ve had great results with the Major Cyclone so far, and it’s a good piece of machinery for students to learn about the benefits of using quality, well-designed equipment.”

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