Triple Mower Combinations Improve Efficiency
How many acres of hay can you cut in one hour? Assuming you are using a traditional 16-foot self-propelled disc mower conditioner, at a speed of eight miles per hour, you could cut a little more than 13 acres in an hour taking headland turns into consideration. This translates that in about eight hours you can cut down around 105 acres with a traditional self-propelled machine.
Now imagine, you have a 31-foot triple disc mower conditioner combination. With this equipment, you could significantly increase your productivity to 25.5 acres in an hour, reducing your time in the field by almost 50 percent. In other words, the triple mower combination would enable you to cut an additional 100 acres in the same time period, thus speeding your harvest.
By combining Kuhn’s FC 3525 D F and FC 10030 D mower conditioners (a triple mower combination), producers can cut from 31 to 32 feet and 6 inches and have up to a 75% swath width to cut width ratio.
“A wider swath exposes a greater percentage of the crop to sunlight, enabling faster drydown,” explains Ryan Pearcy, Kuhn North America product manager, “This faster drydown is crucial for higher-quality feed.”
“With a triple mower combination as opposed to two 16-foot self-propelled machines, producers can save money in several areas,” continues Pearcy, “First, the triple mower requires only one operator, reducing labor costs during the harvest. In addition, since only one engine is running, you can see a significant fuel savings. The triple mower combinations are directly driven as opposed to self-propelled machines which are hydrostatically-driven. These hydrostatically-driven machines are simply not as efficient. By using a triple mower combination with direct drive, producers can save approximately 50 gallons of fuel in a day while cutting the same amount of crop. In the end, by purchasing a tractor you're able to use it year-round for other operations and maintain resale value."
Using a triple mower conditioner combination will be most efficient for large farms and custom operators who cut 1,000 acres or more during harvest. This combination generally requires a tractor of high horsepower. However, many modern tractors with slightly lower horsepower ratings will work well when cutting alfalfa on relatively level ground thanks to an impressive torque rise provided by a diesel engine.
Producers should keep in mind triple mowers require a more skilled operator than a self-propelled machine.
“Tractor manufacturers over the past several years, through the use of precision agriculture technology, have made great strides in combining functions of machines," adds Pearcy, "Several machines only require an operator to sit in the seat and the tractor will mow through the field picking up at the headlands, turning and resetting by itself. This saves the operator from fatigue and increases daily output.”
In addition to reducing operator fatigue and maximizing productivity, the perfectly straight windrows created using precision agriculture are ideal for raking or merging. This allows for streamlining the harvest. Modern agriculture systems in combination with cellular technology and precision software can help producers track and manage operating parameters such as fuel consumption, acres harvested, amount of fertilizer applied, and more around the farm.
"In addition to triple mower conditioner options, straight disc mowers are becoming more and more popular as producers use hay-in-a-day as an effective method to quickly harvest forage. Without using a conditioning system, the horsepower required and subsequent fuel usage needed is greatly reduced," states Pearcy.
While triple mower combinations are most practical for larger operations, many medium-size operations already have a tractor and a single trailed mower. The addition of a second, 10-foot, front-mounted machine will allow a producer to cut 20 or more feet at a time for a cutting rate of 16.5 acres or more per hour. A 27 percent increase in productivity over a traditional 16-foot self-propelled machine and with the new addition of the 11 foot, 6 inch FC 3525 D F productivity can be increased even more.
“For medium-size operations, there are advantages in going to a double mower combination,” says Pearcy, “With a high horsepower tractor, it’s possible to use a front-mounted machine, such as the FC 3525 D F.”
The decision to invest in a double or triple mower combination can help producers realize significant savings in terms of reduced harvest times, increased quality of hay through faster drying, and lower fuel consumption compared to traditional self-propelled mowers. In today’s economic conditions, these savings can add up to big gains for hay producers.