Co Armagh contractor gets first John Deere forager

Robbie Hewitt, sales director, Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd; Garth Cairns, Tim Black and Randal McConnell, managing director, Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd.
Robbie Hewitt, sales director, Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd; Garth Cairns, Tim Black and Randal McConnell, managing director, Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd.

A silage contractor in County Armagh has taken delivery of the very first John Deere 8800i self-propelled forage harvester to be sold in the UK and Ireland.

Garth Cairns from Waringstown, who also runs the slurry machinery and trailer manufacturing company SlurryKat, received his top of the range forager in mid-April from local John Deere dealership Johnston Gilpin &Co Ltd, based in Lisburn.

Mr Cairns runs a large contracting fleet of 13 John Deere tractors and two John Deere self-propelled foragers. He ordered the new 8800i back in October 2015 in good time for this year’s silage season. The new forager replaced his 2010 model 7750, which was traded in showing 1850 hours on the clock.

“We changed our 7750 as it was six years old and we were keen to upgrade to the latest technology from John Deere,” said Garth Cairns.

“Farmers are under intense financial pressure, as are contractors, but there is no way we could increase our prices to help increase our own cashflow. With that in mind the only solution was to reduce our costs and by upgrading to this very latest 8800i we hope to achieve that.

“The new forager is actually six inches narrower and higher than our previous model, making access to fields a bit easier. Other improvements that pushed us towards the 8800i were its higher capacity, the variable speed pick-up which runs independently of the feed rollers, and of course the bigger engine.

“The 8800i is powered by a Cummins 19-litre 845hp engine, which does not require AdBlue to produce low emissions. The cab on the forager is also much more spacious and with that, visibility has been improved. Another efficiency improvement on this machine is the new knife sharpening system, which now only takes around two minutes compared to 10 or so on the older model.

“To be honest, we did look at other brands before making this purchase,but in the end we came back to John Deere because of the back-up service we receive from our dealer Johnston Gilpin. That service is critical to an agricultural contractor and has a vital influence in the overall buying decision,” said Garth.

Johnston Gilpin’s managing director Randal McConnell and sales director Robbie Hewitt were present when the new John Deere 8800i self-propelled forager was delivered to Mr Cairns.

Randal McConnell added: “We are very pleased to have sold and delivered the first John Deere 8800i in the UK and Ireland to Garth Cairns, who is a very loyal customer and a good example of a progressive thinking one. He made the buying decision early on and ordered the machine last autumn, which gave both the factory and us plenty of time to manufacture and deliver it ahead of this year’s silage season.”

Indeed, Johnston Gilpin has since sold a second John Deere 8800i to another Northern Ireland silage contractor, in the Ballynahinch area.