By | August 11, 2016

Alister Donald runs a 220ha lamb trading/finishing operation in the Hilton area of South Canterbury, 10mins from Geraldine.

‘Tranquil Downs’ trades 4-5000 lambs plus cattle through the winter months to take advantage of supply price premiums with most lambs killed between August and October at 45-50kg. The soil type in this area is known as Waitohi silt loam, it is stone free and has a clay base. This makeup means the moisture is retained and it holds on well in the dryer summer months.

Intensive daily break feeding of rape crops through winter, mean the soil can compact quite tightly, and Alister tries to work paddocks as soon as the crop is grazed off in late July. “Because of the rain this time of the year, we dont want to wait as ground can get quite sticky and difficult to work, I like to get in quickly and scratch up the top 100mm to remove the layer of crust, this allows water to go in rather than running off the hills.” As the operation becomes more intensive, Alister aims to have 25% of the property in crop each year, so cultivation is a key part.

3 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

4 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

6 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

Alister admits to having done a few months of his own research on the internet and youtube in his search for the perfect cultivator for his situation. “We have 140Hp tractor, rolling hills, medium soil types, and want to get through the ground quickly as often the window of opportunity to cultivate in late winter/early spring is quite small. We have three weeks to get everything done, and lots to do in this short space of time, I needed a machine that was simple to set up, heavy enough to penetrate effectively, but still something I could pull with my tractor.”

After extensively narrowing down the options, he settled on the Bednar Fenix FN 3500 RT. What this gave me was a machine weighing just over 3 ton, and 3.5mtrs wide, yet the clever trailing transport design, meant I could use my tractor comfortably. “A 3 ton machine linkage mounted would have been out of the question.” Having already dealt with 4AG in purchasing a Titan roller drill last season, them being the Bednar importer made the decision that much easier.

5 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

7 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

After taking delivery of the Fenix in late July and putting it through his paces, Alister is blown away. “When it first showed up on farm, I thought help this looks heavier than it did in the brochure, I hope I can pull it!” “The 750kg trip pressure on each leg, means they hardly move, this combined with the wing share setup on each leg, means you dig down after one pass, and the full working width of the machine is evenly cultivated to a consistent depth.There is a fair bit happening in the soil at 10km/h” Alister says, the underframe clearance is 800mm and at times the soil is being thrown up higher than the frame, so its definitely getting mixed and worked. Another benefit that we have discovered is how level and even the machine sits during work, thanks to most of the weight of the machine running on the rear tyre packer. As this packer is running on the worked ground after all the tyres have been through, it is very stable.

We come across uneven parts of the field e.g. a plough stike-out or rut, and if the cultivator was linkage mounted it would be dancing all over the place, the Fenix rips into any irregularity in the paddock surface, and sits rock solid due to the trailing design.” It is pulled via a 2-point linkage swivel hitch mounting so has complete independence from the tractor regardless of the field condition.

8 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

Previously Alister used a 4.5mtr trailed grubber, in which he folded the outer wings in to make the machine heavier, then pulled a heavy 12′ Austins Cambridge roller behind this. The long, awkward nature of getting this combination around the farm, as well as the fact there were some hill paddocks he couldnt pull it in, makes the new Fenix seem like its on another planet. “I can pull out of a field and travel comfortable at 40km/h along the tracks to the next job, all this saves time, and makes it more operator friendly.”

With the machine exceeding expectations in the wettest conditions, Alister cant wait to stretch its legs as the ground dries out. Slight variations in forward speed and working depth, means we are realizing its potential more and more each time I use it. It is described by the manufacturer as a Versatile cultivator, I couldnt have described it better.

9 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

10 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

11 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

12 of 12 Bednar Fenix FN3500 RT - Alister Donald, Geraldine

Check out the Bednar Fenix in action below. For more demonstrations head over to our YouTube channel

"We milk 2600 cows in both North and South Islands, plus grow maize and various crops on 600 hectares of lease ground. We are constantly developing new ground to bring into production and the 4AG 970's are excellent for chopping up old, heavily thatched pasture and contouring rougher areas. Daily throughput is important to our size operation. so we're pretty happy to be averaging 3-4 hectares/hour!"