Taege is proving a winner on Devon Dairy Farms in Hawea Flat, Central Otago. The farm now has three Taege Engineering machines – a Superstriker post driver, Taege seed drill with harrows and a Taege tyre roller. All three machines have played a major role in the success of this dairy conversion.
Devon Dairy Farms (DDF) is a 3000ha+ farm, made up of a number of neighbouring farms, purchased by Jim and Jenny Cooper of Darwin, Australia, who are both former New Zealanders - Jenny originally from Wanaka and Jim from Southland. The properties were high country, super-fine Merino wool farms that had always struggled for water and good pasture before Jim and his team, led and managed by well-respected dairy farmers Mike and Missy Thompson, began transforming the dry, barren land into a fully self-sufficient dairy farm with water on tap, feeding systems, and its own winter run-off blocks.
DDF is currently milking 900 cows, with 300 heifers in calf, 300 calves and 115 head of beef, and has plans in place to provide a good food source to cope with growth plans.
With ten full-time staff and some casual workers, it isn't a small farming operation by any means, and the atmosphere among the staff is extremely positive reflecting good management and a structure that is working well.
The workshop is so tidy you could almost eat off the floors, which highlights this operation's high standard of work. You can also spot vintage tractors on the farm carrying out the lesser jobs, which reflects Jim's respect for International Harvester and the part it played in developing New Zealand farming.
No doubt you're getting a sense of the kind of farm this is and how rewarding it'd be to work on an operation where you really see the fruits of your hard labour.
The Taege influence
The Taege team recently had the pleasure of spending time with Mick Allan, DDF's head of agriculture, while in between his many jobs around the farm.
Mick says a lot of hard work went into the conversion of the farm and they're all enjoying the fact they have their first dairy season under their belts.
"It was a great feeling to see the first milk tanker driving out the gate," he says.
Because of the huge undertaking and workload involved in the conversion, Mick says it was essential to have good, reliable equipment and Taege products played a big part in the success of the project.
DDF now owns three Taege Engineering machines including a Superstriker post driver, Taege seed drill with harrows and a Taege tyre roller. It also has two Taege feed-out wagons from Taege Manufacturing and a borrowed Taege Vee Rake - so the Taege brand is well-represented here.
When asked, why all the Taege support? Mick says one of the main reasons is Jim is an avid supporter of New Zealand-designed, developed and manufactured products.
"Jim is keen to support the New Zealand industry, especially when it's on our front door."
Furthermore, he says, Taege's reputation for quality machinery and the results they present makes them a very attractive option.
"We purchased the Taege seed drill because of its reputation for handling any conditions, which is what we needed here. We still do a lot of cultivation so it needed to be successful drilling in that situation, and because we are based in the Wanaka district, there is a lot of the well-famed 'Wanaka Stone' to deal with.
"We do a mixture of direct and conventional drilling and have had a lot of success so far, especially with the cereals. We had a very good strike rate and great yields because of the combination of drill, harrows and tyre roller."
Mick says although the tyre roller doesn't punch in the rocks like a heavy roller, it still does a better job on the cultivated ground.
"The tyre roller really improves the strike rate by maximising the seed to soil contact, and helps to retain moisture. In dealing with the rocks, the seeding combination works very well. A disc drill would be wrecked in one season and the maintenance would be huge, so a tyne drill is the only option for us here," he says.
He says the flexibility of the 'S' tyne on the Taege drill means the tips just ride up over the rocks or go around them.
"I've seen a lot of the square tynes on other drills snap in similar conditions. The angle that the tyne is set on certainly helps with the contour following when we're direct drilling. When breaking in ground, the drill needs to be able to handle a lot of rubbish, as I've drilled some pretty ugly ground."
Mick says he's impressed with the amount of "trash" this tyne drill can handle.
"It provides a good seed bed even in existing thatchy grass where other drills would really struggle."
DDF has sown a big variation of seed with the Taege drill, including rye corn, barley, oats, kale, turnips, grass, and, this year, it will be sowing maize.
As with any dairy conversion, fencing is one of the big jobs requiring thousands of posts to be erected in a very short time frame.
To get this job done, DDF purchased a Taege Superstriker post driver, which at the time of the purchase, didn't yet have a name.
Geoff Proud, marketing and sales manager for Taege Engineering says, "The post driver DDF bought was our prototype, which we had at the Waimumu field days."
"We didn't intend to sell it, as it was our only display model, however Trevor Goodeve, Taege Engineering's sales support person could sense DDF's urgency and with the ideal post driver there and available, the deal was done."
"Now, 2500+ driven posts later, the first Superstriker still looks as good as new, apart from a bit of paint wear on sliding surfaces."
"It's been great" says Mick. "We haven't had one issue or had to put a spanner to it".
He says the only thing he'd change is the 270kg monkey, which he'd upgrade to the optional 320kg, which he believes will knock the 90mm rock spike in much easier.
Mick admits he hadn't had much experience with post drivers prior to obtaining the Superstriker, so was surprised to find how easy it was to operate.
"I'm really pleased the Superstriker model was available as Taege's Farmer model didn't have enough options (as in the end-shift) and the Contractor model was overkill for what we needed long term."
Geoff explains that the 200mm end-shift option, which Taege invented, is a must if you're a one-man operation. The end-shift allows you full movement in all directions when combined with the sliding side-shift. It reduces the number of times you need to jump in and out of the tractor seat if things aren't quite lined up correctly.
"With so many different options required by farmers and contractors, and the demands put on a post driver in very harsh working conditions, it can be difficult to come up with the perfect machine, but the Superstriker is so far ticking all the boxes," says Geoff.
Because of the big gap between the Farmer and Contractor models, Geoff says it was necessary to combine the strengths of both models to provide a mid-range post driver - the result being the Superstiker.
The Superstriker uses the simple, single-cylinder system for the optional folding mast, as does the Farmer. Moving down the mast you'll find the tidy side-plate construction like the Farmer model but with a fold length-wise, which adds strength and allows for the operation of the internal twin-mast monkey attachment, as in the Contractor model. This system fully encloses the monkey cylinder, wire rope and pulley operation, adding extra safety and a tidy, compact appearance.
All three models use the same patented hydraulic spike system with the optional hydraulic spike turner for safety and extra convenience. The large, ported control bank, as used on the Contractor, is used on the Superstriker giving faster, cooler operation.
On the base of the Superstriker, we find the large dimension, heavy-duty bottom end as in the Contractor model, but with lighter gauge materials used to reduce the overall weight while still retaining strength. As pictured earlier, the optional end-shift is even more advanced than its big brother, in that it has 200mm of travel instead of the 170mm found on the Contractor model. The diameter of the end-shift is reduced to fit with the whole concept of being a mid-range driver. All the other Contractor options for the bottom end are available on the Superstriker, including three sizes of sliding side-shift, hydraulic independent legs, pin boss and chain system, which negates the need for a post cap, auger system.
In summary, the Superstriker has the strength, robustness, longevity and speed of the Contractor model, and the tidy, simple structures of the Farmer model with the weight and price tag somewhere in between.
Geoff says there have been very few changes made to the original Superstriker prototype that DDF now proudly own. The mid-range post driver continues to prove popular with fencing contractors who want a lighter machine with the winning features of the Contractor model. It's also widespread among farmers requiring a post driver that'll hold its value, while being able to handle serious workloads and on-going maintenance jobs.
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