THERE IS no doubt that Krone’s venture into the self-propelled forage harvester market has been an unqualified success – so much so that the company continues to invest in its dream of taking on the big players in the market.

In Scotland, the brand has also made some significant headway and there are now more than 30 machines working here. Little wonder, then, that Krone UK (and it’s Irish counterpart) have almost tripled sales in 10 years to £43m.

The BiG X forager is part of that bonanza and unit sales between 2008 and 2015 have risen 250%. The company now makes about 320 units per year, though it admitted that the rise of biogas has been a major factor in this.

Another reason, is the wide range it spans, from the four models in its ‘narrow bodied’ range (the 480, 530, 580 and 630) and four in the wider bodied models (the 680, 780, 880 and the colossal 1180). You can largely take it that the nomenclature equals hp and that in the UK, wide bodied models account for 60% of sales.

Recently, at both Scotgrass and at as special demonstration at Geoff Hewitt’s Roadhead Farms, near Quothquan, Biggar, Krone was keen to show off its 680 and 580 choppers working in grass.

Seen as particularly ‘Scottish-sized’ machines, these BiG X foragers were working in near perfect conditions and with a big crop ahead of them, thanks to a quick scythe down by a BiG M mower, kick out by eight rotor tedder and rowed up by a four-rotor Swadro rake.

Krone is putting great store in its OptiGrass technology and system which is part of the BiG X ‘grand plan’. This ranges from the EasyFlow header, which has been designed to reduce crop contamination from stones and soil, through to the MaxFlow drum and thence to the chop length control.

The philosophy behind this is that Krone reckoned that much more milk can be produced from forage, citing the fact that across Europe the leading dairy producers are getting 3900 litres from forage alone, while the bottom 25% only get 1300 litres from their grass. This translates into a cost of just £390 per cow for the top 25%, while the bill for the bottom quartile is £620.

For grass, the MaxFlow drum feed to the knives is probably the most important feature. This works by compressing the crop through six rollers – three on top and three on the bottom and all with stepless adjustment for pressure. This feeds the cutting drum evenly and depending on what chop length is desired, comes as 20, 28 or 36 blade rotors, with the ability to take out half the knives to be replaced with ‘blanks’.

These also have auto shear-bar adjustment available – as introduced last autumn – which keeps downtime to a minimum.

The bigger Krone on show at Roadhead, the 680, is one of those fitted with the impressive V8 Liebherr, 16.6-litre engine. This is rated at 500hp when working in Eco-Power mode – as used when in grass and when conditions are perfect – but this is boosted to 662hp in X-Power mode when the going gets a bit tougher, especially when working in maize, for example.

The rule of thumb is that in Eco-Power, the beast will use less than 100 litres per hour and when the extra ‘gas’ is used, then it will use more than 100 litres per hour.

Operators get the choice of two cabs – Premium or Premium Comfort – but both have excellent all-round vision and a neat control joystick which carries all the main functions. A rear suspension system on the steering axle also gives a much better ride when travelling at speed (up to 40kph) on the road.

Krone’s multiple tank concept offers seven different configurations for flexibility when using the likes of additives. Customers can either carry more fuel, or opt for additive capacity.

The main fuel tank holds 930 litres while a rear auxiliary tank (option) can add 400 litres to that, plus a side-mounted tank (standard) can either hold 170 litres of fuel or 230 litres of additive on top of the optional 275-litre silage additive tank mounted near the front. The AdBlue tank is a standard 150 litres.