Business profile: Taege

Taege visits a satisfied client who’s seeing some big results from his Taege drill and is more than happy with the service he’s getting from his local dealership.

David and Teresa Stephens have a small 90ha farm 20km south of Rotorua, nestled in the Waikite Valley and looking out to the Horo Horo Bluffs and the Paeroa Ranges. They have what is becoming a rare sight in New Zealand and maybe considered a Kiwi icon from bygone days — a small dairy farm with only 150 milking cows. Pointing down at the grass, David says this same paddock was a dust bowl a few months ago, but with a combination of a few vital changes, it is what you see here today — a flourishing paddock.

Thankfully as times have changed, so too have the machines we use to improve to sow grass. The Stephens’ own a Case tractor, used to tow their Taege seed drill. Some may wonder why they would need such machines for 40 hectares of sowable land and 150 cows.

David says that twelve months ago he would have been asking the same thing but that was before he saw and experienced for himself the results of a Taege seed drill.

“We are a dry-land farm hit pretty hard by the 2008 drought and had to get 10ha drilled by a contractor. Every time we put the cows onto the drilled paddocks, we noticed within 24 hours an increase in the milk solids and litres produced.”

He says those increases would drop off after the cows were put back onto the unsown paddocks.

“When the 2013 drought hit, stress levels rose to a point where we knew we would have to do some undersowing, as our farm was just getting burnt off. I could see the dollar signs flashing in front of me, so I started looking for second-hand drills, and that’s where Andrew Gibbs from Giltrap AgriZone in Rotorua comes in.”

Taege2You often hear people say it’s hard to find really good salesman, but David believes he’s found one in Andrew.

“He’s straighter than most rulers and, I must say, it’s because of him and the work he’s done in the area that I have the machinery I have today,” says David.

While we are handing out the accolades to Andrew, Geoff Proud, marketing manager from Taege Engineering, has some of his own.

“Yes, I’d agree with David, as there were 12 to 18 months of work put in behind the scenes before a Taege Demo day in the Waikato and Andrew was the driving force behind it. He’s very passionate about our products and could see how they would produce really good results in this area. Plus he had three to four people lined up wanting a Taege drill. I would venture to say it’s because of Andrew’s influence that all three branches of Giltrap Agrizone are now the agents for Taege drills,” says Geoff. But more of that later.

When Andrew mentioned a demo day to the team at Taege, it was immediately suggested the seed drills be on the agenda as it was so dry. During the demo day it was clear to onlookers Andrew wasn’t the only one passionate about Taege drills — Trevor Goodeve, Taege Engineering sales manager, did an excellent job of explaining and demonstrating the benefits of Taege machinery.

David says anyone who left that day without an intelligent understanding of Taege Engineering machinery, or an overwhelming desire to purchase some, must have just been there for the beers.

“I tell you, I had no intention of buying a new drill, but after seeing what I saw I was hooked and the rest is history. I would have sown about 40ha by now, but I know that as soon as the grass started growing I equalled the best results in milk solids and quantity I’ve ever had and that was on my first pickup, too.”

The Stephens say the results from the drill have continued improving to the point where the drill has paid for itself already, and they’ve only had it eight months.

“Good growth is always about good timing, however, being a small farmer working with small areas unfortunately means I’m way down every contractor’s priority list. So now that I have my own drill, I can do the seeding at the time that best suits the conditions and I can do small patch-up jobs whenever they’re needed.”

David says they didn’t have a stash of cash sitting there waiting to be spent. He instead put the drill on hire-purchase, but it was worth it as he could see the financial benefits of owning the machine.

Why a Taege? Well, that’s easy, he says.

“I’m not the most academic bloke on the block, so what’s important to me is an easy to use, no fuss, and convenient machine. I’m also very busy and every minute of my day needs to be productive. The Taege drill ticked all those boxes.”

A feature David particularly liked was the electronic calibrating and metering system.

“The fact I can store the seeding rates means I can be up and going with different seeds at the push of a button. I know Taege recommends calibrating every time, but for me it has been accurate enough without doing that. I can also adjust the seeding rate on the go, which is great for me.”

Another key feature for David are the sponge protectors, allowing him to leave the seed in the drill, so that when he has a spare half hour he can hook it up and head out for some patch-up undersowing.

While on the subject of patching, David says convenience and speed at which he can carry out pasture repairs is phenomenal.

“When I get a pugged area I just leave it until it crusts over, then I take the drill with the seeding system turned off and use it as a cultivator to work the pugged area level again. At the push of a button it’s a seeder again, so job done.”

Handling the rough, uneven ground is a breeze too, thanks to the very flexible tines. They’ve been able to smooth out some very rough ground without doing any damage to the drill.

“The flexibility of the tines is so different to other drills, which is why I’m getting such good results, because more of the seed is being placed in the correct place in a seedbed of fine soil created by the vibrating tips, and the penetration into hard ground makes it possible to get down to the moisture.”

In the very rough areas, the tips can vary about 300mm in height with the seed still at the right depth, which is something no other tine drill on the market will do.

David says he puts his drill and tractor through their paces, but he says that’s what they are built for. “I’m probably one of the most fastidious people out there when it comes to maintaining my gear.”

Geoff says he’ll vouch for that too, as during his recent visit, the Stephens’ Case IH tractor looked as though it had just left Giltrap Agrizone’s showroom, yet it’s a couple of years old.

“I felt like I should have taken my shoes off when climbing into the cab and there wasn’t one, but two bottles of Armoural on hand for fast retrieval and use,” says Geoff.

Because undersowing is a huge part of any dairy farmer’s life, it’s very important that the existing pasture isn’t destroyed during the process, another reason why David chose a Taege.

Because the tips are so fine, very little existing pasture is disturbed, so David’s not undoing all the hard work he’s previously done to build up better pastures.

As mentioned earlier, David’s drill was on hire purchase, so he had to start with the basic model. The beauty of this is that at a later date he can add a second box (stainless if he chooses), a broadcast system, and agitator if needed.

“It’s all stuff I can do myself, because these machines just aren’t complicated, yet they perform.”

David says it wasn’t the drill alone that turned things around, but also a combination of the seed type, rainfall, and the Fonterra payout.

“Having a drill on hand has definitely been an important factor for timing and the fact it is a Taege means the seed is getting the best start because of the environment is an excellent seedbed at optimal depth. The fact I also use it as a cultivator adds to the value for me.”

Geoff is thrilled the Stephens are having huge success out of their drill, but is also delighted to hear such positive feedback about the dealerships they are in partnership with.

“It certainly is great having well respected dealerships, like Giltrap Agrizone, on board, and their committed staff who are as passionate about our products as we are. I love to hear dealership staff refer to Taege equipment as ‘our drills’, ‘our tyre rollers’, or ‘our post drivers’, because it shows they take pride and ownership in what they are selling and everyone benefits.”

Currently, Taege distributors include David Ensor Machinery in Southland/Otago, Johnson Gluyas Tractors in Timaru and South Canterbury, Williams Service Centre in Marlborough, Power Farming in Feilding for the lower North Island, and now Giltrap Agrizone in Otorohanga, Cambridge, and Rotorua. Taege Engineering is also talking with other potential dealers in other areas in order to build an even stronger network.

With the introduction of its new six-metre cultivator, which is already selling well, Geoff is confident the future looks bright for the company.

Now, for those of you who didn’t get the gist of the colour riddle at the beginning, let us explain: Because of the help from the red and silver seed drill, there is more quality green grass. Therefore the black, white, and brown cows are sitting around chocker-full, just making more white milk which, without a doubt, is liquid gold at the moment.

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