John Deere Australia (13 December, 2023) – New South Wales grain grower James Hardcastle has contracted Bingham Agriculture from Victoria to harvest his crops for the past 20 years, so when Dan Bingham introduced a new X9 1000 Combine Harvester for the 2022 season, he was quick to ask for a shift in the driver’s seat.
“I thought, what an incredible bit of gear – everything about it was amazing,” Mr Hardcastle said.
“The X9 provided a really comfortable ride and the twin rotors meant it could work through crops much more quickly, for better productivity.”
It soon became apparent one X9 would match the capacity of two John Deere S680 Combine Harvesters – so Hardcastle Farming ordered one X9 1000 for the 2023 harvest on its own, while Bingham Agriculture invested in an additional two.
“So rather than eight headers, we had three,” Mr Hardcastle said.
“Normally the harvest is organised chaos but this year it was very different with so few headers, and the X9s are incredibly quiet.”
Hardcastle Farming, with the support of farm manager, Jeff Fairbanks, crops 8900 hectares around Nulla Nulla at North Star, growing mostly dryland wheat but also barley, chickpeas and sorghum in the Golden Triangle of northern NSW.
While the 2022 season finished wet, James said challenging weather conditions in 2023 saw the wheat and chickpea crops survive four-and-a-half months without rain, resulting in lower yields and protein.
The barley, however, more than compensated, with X9 fleet powering through a crop yielding 4.2t/ha.
The new X9 1000, purchased through Lachlan Brennan at RDO Equipment in Goondiwindi, also became an instant attraction throughout the district.
“So many neighbours came to see it in operation that we nearly had to have a booking system to get people through, and we haven’t stopped recommending it,” Mr Hardcastle said.
“It cuts the stubble beautifully, the 50-foot front just flows over the contour banks. Maintenance is easy with a terrific cleaning fan that blows the engine clear during working hours, which is really beneficial.”
Jeff Fairbanks was equally impressed by the immediate impact of the 50-foot draper flex front.
“We also really appreciated the adjustable spout on the header that meant we could change the height when unloading into the chaser bins on the move,” Mr Fairbanks said.
“The harvester definitely unloads faster so each X9 needed its own chaser bin.”
More power, less fuel
While speed of harvest was key, the fuel efficiency of the X9 confirmed they’d made the right decision in purchasing the new machine.
“We saved 50,000 litres over the harvest, half what we’d normally use,” Mr Hardcastle said.
“We normally fill up twice during harvest, but didn’t even finish the original tank of fuel. If you do the sums on the price of fuel at the moment, or even what you pay a contractor, it makes a huge difference.”
Another X-Series on the way
The overall performance of the X9 1000 convinced Mr Hardcastle to order a second machine, an X9 1100, for next year.
“Harvest was very different this year, thanks to the X9s. There was the same level of activity, the trucks and bins were still there, but less headers and fewer people meant it was very calm with minimal noise and less chaos,” he said.
“The sorghum is looking really good so we’re looking forward to putting the X9 into that. We think it’s going to love it.”