The latest Massey Ferguson Activa S combine, aimed at smaller acreages, is proving a hit on a farm which has a successful track record with the brand. Jane Carley reports.
W S Sinkler and Sons have been loyal followers of Massey Ferguson’s harvesting equipment since 1953 when they purchased a Massey Harris 780 for the princely sum of £1,440.
Bearing a passing resemblance to that iconic harvester is Robin and Nick Sinkler’s (pictured) new MF Activa 7345S, delivered for this season.
This latest model has been designed to offer some of the technology from larger combines in the Massey Ferguson range to smaller farms, and Nick Sinkler admits that he is still getting used to equipment including the touch screen TechTouch 2 control terminal.
“I’ve now got a touch screen phone as well, so I’m constantly pressing or swiping screens,” he laughs.
Cropping 145ha as well as running a bull beef enterprise between them near Aike, Driffield with only seasonal help, the brothers appreciate any developments which help boost productivity.
Thus the MF Activa 7345S has been specified with a 5.5m Powerflow header, a little wider than the table on its predecessor, an Activa Mk II. Using a continuous belt feed to gather crops, the header is designed to reduce table losses and present an even crop flow, according to the manufacturer.
“This has made a big difference in the oilseed rape and feeds it really evenly,” comments Nick Sinkler. “Plus the rape auger lifts high and pushes the rape down, ensuring that all of the crop is taken into the header.”
Another practical benefit of the larger table is that there is an improved view of it from the cab, without perching forward, which Mr Sinkler appreciates over the course of a long day.
Existing gateways are plenty wide enough for the new header, although it will not go into the stackyard. “But neither would the previous one,” admits Robin Sinkler. The tandem axle header trailer is also praised for its improved following ability.
Comfort and control have been improved with the new Proline cab, comments Nick Sinkler, with the new terminal complemented by a large armrest and the PowerGrip controller from MF’s higher horsepower Delta and Beta combines.
“All the controls including the auger activation are in one place – there’s no need to press a lot of buttons. You can also set the auger to come back in automatically after unloading, which is handy in a field with a lot of pylons, as there’s no risk of forgetting it. I also like the touch pad above the windscreen to select which working lights I want to use.”
He reckons it is a little bit quieter than the previous cab, and of course comes with the usual creature comforts of air conditioning, air suspended seat and cool box.
The Multi Crop Separator has also been specified, which uses an additional drum and concave system providing up to 1.07sq.m of extra separating area and can rotate the concave completely out of work when it is not required.
Engaged electrically, the MCS can be activated when conditions change, and Mr Sinkler says that it proved its worth on the barley, giving an improved thresh.
The Sinklers bale all of the barley straw for their own cattle, while a neighbour takes the wheat straw, so a quality swath is important, and the MCS is also gentle on the straw, says Mr Sinkler.
Powered by an Agco Power six-cylinder, 7.4 litre engine, at 243hp, the five-walker combine packs a greater punch than its similarly powered predecessor, and Mr Sinkler says: “It powers the new header well and seems to have more torque pushing through better in difficult conditions. It’s early days to quote fuel economy improvements but I expect we shall see some.”
Carr House Farm is mainly on heavy clay, and larger 710 front tyres have been specified for the MF Activa 7345S, partly to take account of the weightier header.
The brothers have a good relationship with local dealer Peacock and Binnington who quickly helped resolve niggles with the previous combine and who offer a good parts service, they say.
“I find the new combine good to work on - the grease points are easier to reach without squeezing round the guards as they are now all on the frame. We haven’t bothered with extra lights under the guards – if the combine is reliable you shouldn’t need to be working on it at night,” says Nick Sinkler.
Harvesters are normally replaced after five or six years, although the Sinklers say that they were offered a good deal to change this time, and that they usually maintain their value well.
Outputs have been boosted by the wider table and extra threshing capacity towards 12ha/day, and Mr Sinkler has noticed particular improvements in the rape, DK Cabernet yielding 4.5t/ha.