Darling Downs grain grower, Peter Bach, reckons his new CLAAS LEXION 750 with TERRA TRAC is the best combine harvester he’s ever driven. Given that the 31-year-old has clocked up an impressive 8000 hours as a professional driver in both Australia and North America, it’s an impressive endorsement indeed. Peter grows more than 1200 hectares of sorghum, corn, mungbeans, wheat and barley across several properties in the Bongeen and Pittsworth districts.
Home base is the 240 ha irrigated property, ‘Kurilda’, purchased in 2001. Peter, who is recognised as an emerging leader in the Queensland grain industry, has steadily introduced an intensive, zero-till cropping program over the past seven years.
“We are in good country here and we have to get the most out of it,” he says. “Every acre is sown to summer crops each year and we do a lot of double cropping if the opportunity is there. This country is too valuable to leave unproductive. If we could pull a planter behind the header, we would.”
Accompanying this has been the introduction of a controlled traffic program based on a 40’ interval, necessitating a complete revamp of his machinery pool.
Key equipment includes a 16-row Kinze planter with 30” row spacing, a 40’ Morris contour drill and 12,000 L Simplicity airseeder with 15” row spacing and an Agco SpraCoupe with an 80’ boom. “Combined with improved stubble management, controlled traffic has been an expensive process, but the benefits are definitely worth it,” he says. “We are getting on our property probably a week earlier after rain.”
Pride of the fleet is his LEXION 750 with TERRA TRAC, delivered in September last year. With its enormous capacity and revolutionary tracked undercarriage, the machine is recognised as one of the world’s most productive combine harvesters. “Dad and I had been talking about a new combine since 2010,” Peter says. “He’s a dyed-in-the-wool New Holland man but I was attracted to the CLAAS LEXION because of its tracks. The local dealer in Dalby organised a demonstration for us two years ago and it towered over what we were using in terms of capacity and the ride.”
All four models in the LEXION 700 series feature the unique HYBRID separation and threshing technology that has made CLAAS the world leader on the harvesting stage. An accelerated pre-separation system separates up to 30 per cent of the grain before it even reaches the concave and ensures even material flow without blockages or surges.
The remaining material then passes through twin longitudinal rotors for optimal grain separation under all conditions. CLAAS is still the only manufacturer to offer both systems in the one machine. “I’ve clocked up about 350 hours over the past 12 months and this is easily the best combine harvester I have ever driven,” Peter says. “The things you can do with this machine surpass any other combine. There are so many adjustments, you can always find an option to get even more out of it. It has enormous capacity for its size, even in high yielding summer crops. What has blown me away is the quality of the sample even in really tough conditions. Harvesting crops at 20 per cent moisture does not faze it in the slightest.”
Peter is particularly impressed with the third-generation tracked undercarriage, which includes hydraulic suspension and automatic levelling. “The tracks can handle easily the 42’ draper front and 16-row corn front we are running, which weigh four or five tonnes apiece,” he says. “They help to reduce our risk because we can go faster and get our crops off earlier. Alternatively, we get back into wet paddocks much earlier than we could with a wheeled combine. In general, the tracks allow us to go at least two km/hour faster which means I can cover more acres every hour.”
Peter also rates the 40 km/hour road speed and narrow transport width of 3.5 metres highly. “Everything about the LEXION is fast and efficient,” he says. “I am running this place pretty much by myself so time is important to me. My overriding goal is to reduce the number of hours I have to spend sitting in a tractor or header so I can get on with other jobs. Everything costs money and one of the biggest costs is labour. It’s one thing to keep people in jobs but the real challenge is finding them in the first place.”