Review: Reiter R8 Compact Merger


The new R8 Compact is an exciting option that will suit many farmers and contractors around NZ wanting to maintain the quality of their forage

This massive machine played a crucial role in meeting the rigid silage quality controls demanded by New Zealand feed company Fibre Fresh and was also possibly the only machine of its calibre in the world equipped to take such extreme care with the precious high-quality forage being grown for discerning customers.

The Reiter merger gently handles grass, lifting instead of sweeping everything into the swath, like conventional rakes, resulting in less leaf loss, lower power demand, reduced wear, and high working speeds.

Compact but still with the ability to handle heavy crops

While this size and calibre of the machine remains a rare beast in New Zealand, the Austrian company Reiter has recently expanded its product offering to keep its place at the top of the stack when it comes to forage merging.

The new R8 Compact provides an option that will suit many large farms in New Zealand and stacks up nicely against the traditional fleet of rotor rakes commonly seen around the country.

Piako Tractors, the national distributor for Reiter products, believes the flagship R9 suits New Zealand’s demanding contractor market, but they also anticipate the R8 will play a big part in Reiter’s presence here moving forward.

Windrowing at speed

Reiter R8 Compact

The new R8 Compact is, as the name suggests, a compact version of the R9 Profi. While featuring much of the R9’s sought-after functionality and design principles, the slimmed-down R8 version has centre and side delivery capabilities. Additionally, it boasts four transport wheels to support its robust frame. Coming in at that crucial under three-metre transport width, it also features the R9’s flexible, camless pickups with Reiter’s trailing tine design, among many other features carried over from its bigger brother.

When comparing Rieter Mergers to competitive brands, it’s easy to see what makes the brand globally successful, and none of this important DNA has been lost in the R8 Compact.

However, focusing more on the ‘compact’ component, the R8 Compact weighs 4400kg and can be operated with tractors from just 100hp and above. The horsepower requirement is more of a question of matching the size of the tractor to the farm conditions and handling the weight of the machine, rather than a driveline requirement.

Machine operation is very intuitive

This reduction in bulk from the R9’s considerable 6400kg opens up possibilities, considering that a medium frame tractor with roughly 140hp is pretty common on many Kiwi farms these days.

Merger benefits

But why a merger over a traditional rake? Well, there are numerous reasons, and depending on your operation and motives, there are bound to be one or two real standouts.

Firstly, forage quality. The basic principle of these machines is to keep forage clean and contaminant-free. The pickup design is just like that of a baler: the crop comes straight up and onto a belt for the delivery direction of your choosing. Unlike a traditional rake, there’s no sideways sweeping action, which potentially adds dirt and debris to the forage. Adding debris to your crop can have a lot of effects, including a negative impact on the fermentation process and adding stress to the animal’s digestion system, which, in turn, affects meat and milk production.

Perfect windrows mean perfect bales

Remember that day at the beach when you were a kid and dropped your chocolate biscuit in the sand and decided to eat it anyway? Not too nice, was it? And I bet you felt the lasting effects for the next 24 hours or so. It’s similar when we rake through excessively wet, dry, or difficult terrain where there’s contact of the rake’s tines combined with the dragging movement of the crop across the field. Reiter’s unique trailing tine design minimises the introduction of foreign objects. Looking at the pickup, you would swear it would never work, but work it does and at high working speed with ridiculous efficiency.

If you have lucerne on your property, you’ll notice the difference with the merger. Its gentle lift and deliver system ensure more leaves stay with the crop compared to a traditional rake. The R8 Compact has been extensively tested throughout Europe and plenty have found their home on the lovely lucerne fields of France and Germany.

The R8 has a low horsepower requirement

The previously mentioned speed is another factor. Ok sure, with a maximum working width of eight metres on the R8, you aren’t covering the ground that you are with a big four rotor rake or R9 Profi, but with speeds of 16kph to 17kph in normal conditions and up to 23kph in easy conditions, you’re going to make up for it — all the while creating a cleaner windrow than its big rake counterpart.

Speaking of windrows, the merger creates an even, fluffy windrow. This means that when the baler or harvester hits the field, they can get straight into it at speed. If you happen to own the harvester, you’re bound to see the fuel bill drop with the lack of surging the machine will now do, eating a nice, clean row with no big balls to deal with, particularly on the corners if you have a good operator.

ISOBUS functionality keeps the cab clear

Those who purchase one of these machines will also notice that with both the R9 and the new R8, maintenance bills on harvesters drop dramatically, thanks to the lack of grit and debris in the windrow, helping extend the lifetime of knives and other high-dollar components.

While the harvester or baler is in the field devouring windrows, one thing you won’t have to worry about is inadvertently swallowing a big rake tine that may have dislodged in the raking process. We all cringe at the thought of what the parts and labour bill that comes from a foreign object finding its way into the chamber of either machine might look like. The Reiter’s small tines make this almost a non-issue and its clever two-piece mounting mechanism ensures that dislodging a tine would be difficult.

The larger Reiter R9 merger

Versatility is a highly valued feature of the Reiter mergers, with the ability to do side and centre delivery being a definite asset. It’s easy to maximise windrows and reduce the number of passes the harvester or baler needs to do in the field. It also adds some great options when navigating wet areas or steep hills where the harvester or baler can’t reach cleanly. With the merger, it’s simple to just shift the row over away from obstacles.

Another impressive feature is the ability to stop the belt while keeping the pickup running. Got a few stray bits and pieces left in the paddock? Simply race around, put it all on the static belt, and then deposit a tidy, short windrow for the harvester to pick up by the gate. No more wasted crop sitting in the paddock.

Intelligent suspension design

There’s a lot more to these machines, particularly the R8 Compact. With its more compact size and weight combined with all the features that make the Reiter mergers the king of belt rakes, and its competitive price point, we will likely be seeing a lot more of these machines in Kiwi fields.

The whole range of Rieter mergers is sold and supported in New Zealand by Piako Tractors who have fantastic support and communication from the factory in Austria. When recently visiting the factory, the Piako crew were blown away by the ingenuity and passion behind the brand, particularly that of its founder and CEO Thomas Reiter.

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