The first John Deere 9900i self-propelled forage harvester to be sold in Europe has been hard at work in Northern Ireland for contractor Lagan Brothers of Moneymore in County Londonderry.
Started in 2003, the business is run by Michael Lagan and his brothers Seamus and Paul, with father James and younger brother Noel also taking an interest. Supplied by local John Deere dealer Johnston Gilpin & Co of Lisburn after a ‘Golden Key’ handover at the Zweibrücken factory in Germany, the powerful 970hp 9900i is the biggest of the new 9000 Series self-propelled foragers launched by John Deere last year.
Key features of the range include a new V12 Liebherr engine on the top three models, a new high performance XStream kernel processor and the latest precision farming technology, including the new HarvestLab 3000 constituent sensing system, with the focus very much on forage quality.
Michael Lagan, who operates the 9900i, says: “We needed to upgrade our two year old John Deere 8800i with a more powerful machine. Each year we harvest around 7000 acres of grass and 70 per cent of that is destined for biogas plants. These plants require finely chopped material down to 4mm that is easily digested, so we made the decision to upgrade to a machine with more power and more knives – 64, compared to 56 on our previous model.
“It’s more or less the same physical size as the 8800i, but you certainly feel the difference the bigger engine makes. The grass goes through with ease and the extra knives leave a nice fine chop in the trailer. It’s proved to be a great machine, so investing in the 9900i was the perfect business decision for us.”
Michael also highlights the importance of John Deere’s HarvestLab sensor, which accurately measures dry matter and other constituents in real time. All the data, including crop yield per field, is displayed to the operator inside the cab.
“We’ve used the system for a number of years now and find it extremely useful in keeping us informed about crop quality and yield,” he says. “Another handy feature is that we use it on the dribble bar when spreading slurry. Here it can give us information such as nitrogen content and works out how much slurry we can apply per hectare to keep within the recommended guidelines and ground requirements.”
Alongside the new forage harvester, Lagan Brothers operate a fleet of John Deere tractors ranging in model age from 2006 to 2019, including four 6R Series and one 7R Series machines plus three older 20 and 30 Series models. For silaging they use a 6190R and 7280R, both equipped with triple mowers, to cut the grass while a 6155R runs the rake. A Volvo L70G wheel loader used in the pit completes the grass contracting fleet.