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Nanneella contractor ready to expand

Last spring a massive forage harvester arrived at Echuca CIH.

The plan was to use it as a demo machine, but the dealership couldn’t even get fingerprints on the glass before it was sold to a Nanneella contractor.

Adam Whipp from AW Ag Contracting can remember the exact date he got the Krone Big X 780.

“September 15. It was meant to be a demo but I saw the opportunity and bought it,” Mr Whipp said.

“Unfortunately I’d gotten it just a bit too late. The season was already booked in so I couldn’t take on more work, but this season will be different.”

Mr Whipp said the shorter and shorter silage window and increasing demand for high density hay meant contractors like him were under pressure to expand.

He has also being affected by contractors coming in from outside the area door-knocking and undercutting his prices.

“People need to stand by their local guys if they want us to be here,” Mr Whipp said.

“The people who come in from outside the area don’t have a reputation to maintain. They come in, usually cock up the job anyway, brag about doing 35-hour shifts, don’t know the road rules — some of these crews can be pretty dangerous.”

But the shorter seasons and increasing reliance on fodder in Australia means silage and hay contracting is an inviting industry for cowboy operators — which is why Mr Whipp has fronted the money and expanded his operations.

“Normally we do the same people every year, no new clients, but now we’re going to be taking on more farmers because we’ve got this high density chopper,” Mr Whipp said.

“This is the best chopper on the market. People will say the Claas one is better but I believe the Krone is best.”

Mr Whipp has been making hay since he was 15 years old and chopping silage for over a decade.

“It’s definitely changing. Farmers want you to take care of it all now, they are too busy doing their own jobs,” Mr Whipp said.

“Plus, after all the drought people built hay sheds and started trucking hay ridiculous kilometres, so it’s all high density squares because people want to get as much on the trucks as possible.”

Mr Whipp said he had definitely seen a decline in round bales across his area, which extends from Deniliquin and Cohuna back to Nanneella.

His hay equipment includes a John Deere 469 Premium round baler and Krone Big Pack 1290 HDP II — another high density purchase.

“This season I’m working with a mate who just bought his second high density machine, so it’s going to be three HDs,” Mr Whipp said.

“In a season I will employ 15 to 20 guys, nearly all of them retired truck drivers and farmers themselves.”

When asked how many machines he had, Mr Whipp couldn’t actually give a number.

“Does ‘heaps’ work? They aren’t all here today, they are almost never in the one spot.”

Another recent purchase is a 9470r tractor and new silage trailers.

“The tractor I got in March, it’s great for rolling silage,” Mr Whipp said.

The Nanneella contractor is well aware of the current machinery shortage, despite his own success securing harvesters and tractors.

“The shortage is really hitting bad now. All those pre-orders are coming through and you can’t get a spot on the ships,” he said.

“Because the factories shut down there is a constant backlog. It’s going to be another five years until this is all over.”

In the meantime, it helps to be with a good dealership. Mr Whipp is a devoted Echuca CIH client — not only because it got him a brand new forage harvester in the middle of the 2020 silage season, but because of the service.

“I can call them and they’ll be out here in an hour,” he said.

“They are just awesome. They don’t have that dealership arrogance and the service is unreal. They are good, genuine blokes.

“This Krone chopper, for example, was the first one they’d ever had and they made sure everything went right. They went to massive lengths to do their research.”

Features on the Krone Big X include variable chop length, sensors to keep track of tonnage and yield mapping.

“That’s all helpful, especially when you're charging by the tonne and farmers like to know what they are yielding,” Mr Whipp said.

“It’s got a four drum feeder and it just holds the material better. The feeder is variable speed, if you hit a big lump it will adjust rather than dragging the arse.”

With nearly one year of Krone Big X ownership under his belt, Mr Whipp is confident the machine will handle a flat-out spring.

“We do maize with it too and it’s great on that. If the maize is drier in parts it senses it and adjusts the chop length so you get ideal compaction, no fluffy bits.”