Profile: Ground Gear Agronic range

If you use a combination baler/wrapper with the Agronic rake on the front, you immediately save on two tractors, drivers, and diesel.

Recently, I caught up with Brent Raikes, well known in the New Zealand farm machinery industry for his involvement in the family business 4Ag and prior to that, at 4 Seasons Agriculture, both importers of quality European Farm Equipment.

The guide wheels and plastic tines mean significantly less dirt contamination in the crop

Continuing his focus on quality machinery, Brent has set up a new business, Ground Gear, focusing on French-made Forges de Niaux disc blades and Finnish-made Agronic front-mounted windrowers.

The Agronic gear is imported out of Finland and offers a wide range of equipment, including a combination baler wrapper and maize balers. With decades of experience, Agronic designs, develops, and manufactures high-quality products to withstand demanding nordic conditions, so the range is equally at home in challenging New Zealand terrain.

The Agronic rakes initially sparked my attention for the fact they are front-mounted. If you use a combination baler/wrapper with the Agronic rake on the front, you immediately save on two tractors, drivers, and diesel.

No cam rollers, mechanical gearboxes, PTO shafts, universal joints, or steel tine arms that tend to bend or break off when clipping a concrete trough

That’s before you take into account R&M, tyre wear, servicing, etc. Really, I should stop there but just like a great Suzanne Paul infomercial – but wait there’s more!

Simple, large cubic capacity hydraulic motors drive the rotors that are sped up or slowed down by the tractors oil flow. This means no drive shafts, yokes, camtracks, crown-wheel, or pinions. So while this is not a term that is bandied about a lot, these machines are almost maintenance-free.

A key maintenance issue with conventional rakes is tines. On the Agronic, these are made of a composite engineered polyamide material, meaning no steel tine arms or tines to get broken in the paddock and end up in the rotor of the baler.

Agronic range

The hydraulic drive with no cam track or drive shafts mean ongoing maintenance is almost non-existent

The range features two mounted machines, with a choice of front linkage, rear linkage or front loader. Our test machine, the WR500, had a five-metre working width and 3.5-metre transport width. This does not fold up but simply has hydraulic width adjustment to suck in and out.

There’s also a manual pin setting adjustment on the frame, holding the two hydraulic width adjustment cylinders. This brings the transport width to 3.1 metres with the outer tines removed (the narrower setting is ideal if running mowers less than three metres cut width, where the maximum raked row width isn’t required).

The WR600, which I reckon will sell in large volumes, is a 6.1-metre machine with larger diameter rotors with 36 tines per rotor. The WR 500 has 32 tines per rotor and a 5.1-metre max working width.

Unique action of the engineered plastic tines lifts the crop first before moving it across

This means wider swaths can be collected while also allowing the creation of a narrower windrow. The WR600 folds to 2.8 metres transport, making it easier to get in and out of places. Pivoting wings offer better following of ground contour.

The frame consists of three sections: the headstock and two wings. Each part has its own support wheels (in front and behind), eliminating scuffing or bulldozing and meaning significantly less dirt contamination in the crop.

The WRT900 is the big daddy of the range and is the only trailed version available. This claims to be more efficient than a 12.5-metre four rotor rake due to working speeds of 12–25km/h. The simple hydraulic motor and composite tines means damaging expensive components become a thing of the past, although, you possibly might want to wear your seat belt at those speeds.

Shape of the windrow formed at high speeds, up to 20km/h plus forward speed 

If you ignore the speed for a second, the maximum working width of 9.55 metres is not much less if you can go even 1 or 2km/hr faster. It’s more compact, turns in the centre of the main beam for easy manoeuvrability, and is significantly more stable on hills due to higher weight in the main beam and far less weight in the rotors compared to rotary rakes.

Productivity throughout the day would be comparable I would suggest, with significantly less outlay and ongoing cost.

Other features include:

  • 2.95-meter transport width and under four metres height when folded high speed operation but always leaving a perfectly formed swath
  • At 8.2-metre working swath width is 1600 mm (Ideal for a Baler) and at 9.55-metre swath width is 2000mm (Ideal for a chopper or loader wagon).
  • 500 R50/ 17 tyres
  • electric section control for individual wing lifting
  • offset swathing on the move via hydraulically adjustable main beam prevents the rake from hanging downhill on sidlings and keeps the raked rows straighter when travelling around troughs.
  • depending on crop conditions, choose to rake through the centre pulling grass onto the centre swath or rake through the centre but completely invert the centre swath like a merger for ease of crop pick-up on a humid day with poor drying.

The only negative I can see with the front-mounted rakes is that they only take two rows rather than a conventional rake taking three. However, this can also be a positive, particularly for baling with a belt baler.

Because an even amount from each side is fed into the rotor, it’s easier on the belts, meaning perfect square-edged bales regardless of how heavy the crop is. A significant reduction in costs can be achieved with these machines.

The reduced need for additional machines and labour, plus a simple hydraulic motor and composite tine – you can see why I was excited?

See more hay tools for sale in NZ

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