Being better than others – with regard to performance and quality of work – that’s the ambition of Gregor Bröcker, a contractor in Harvesse near Braunschweig. terraHORSCH visited him on site and learned what this means and which role the right technology plays in this respect.
Sunshine, a cloudless sky and a well-dried soil – the conditions for sowing maize could not be better this morning. Nils Quilitz, one of the three associates of the contracting company in Harvesse, is steering the tractor with the disc seed drill HORSCH Pronto 6 AS onto a 3-hectare field. The field has been cultivated with a cultivator before and the surface has dried off well – it is high time to plant the maize. But in this case not to make use of the residual humidity of the soil, but because the weather app forecasted rain at noon.
Thus, every hour counts, for now, at the end of April, the contractor already managed to cultivate part of the maize fields – but there are still two thirds left. “Although after a winter that was too dry we urgently need rain, it can still take its time today“, Gregor Bröcker who together with Andreas Heike runs the company as a managing partner hopes.
On a total of about 2,000 hectares that the contractor’s team sows in average for its customers per year maize takes the largest part, followed by cereals, catch crops, rape and soya. Sugar beet – quite deliberately – is not among the crops although the region near Braunschweig belongs to the Lower Saxon strongholds for beets. “The farmers mostly sow them themselves or there are other contractors that are specialised in sugar beet. This is why we decided not offer this service as there already is enough competition“, Gregor Bröcker comments.
Impress the customers
After the rig has cultivated the first part at the boundaries of the field, Nils Quilitz and Gregor Bröcker check the sowing quality. They carefully uncover parts of the seed row at different spots and take measurements. But everything is ok, placement depth and grain spacing are excellent – placement depth, in Gregor Bröcker’s opinion - being the more important aspect: “The right germination horizon is crucial for the germination success and thus for the emergence“, he explains. The same is true for the underground fertiliser application that has to be exactly parallel to the sowing depth.
In his opinion, the ISOBUS controlled, automatic coulter pressure adaption and the parallelogram guidance of the seed units are extremely helpful in this respect as they work reliably on different types of soil and on inhomogeneous fields. Since they bought the Pronto with the Maestro seed bar in 2018, the experiences of the Bröcker team with these systems have been excellent. „So far we have not seen such a precision in any other brand“, Andreas Heike points out. „And we normally test very extensively before we settle on a brand or a machine“, he adds. „For after all reliability and quality are the be-all and end-all for us as a contractor. This is true for our own requirements of the working quality and for the technology itself. Our motto is: support the customers in the best possible way and meet our own high standards with regard to quality and reliability. Thus, we can stand out from our colleagues and can convince our customers”, he explicitly emphasises.
Andreas Heike mentions the sowing speed as an example: „Everyone can go fast, but the placement accuracy – and thus the seed quality – definitely suffers if you sow maize at 18 or 20 km/h, even though some manufacturers want to make us believe the opposite. Our opinion is: we rather go a little bit more slowly, especially as for many farmers fast is synonymous with negligent and they quite rightly allege that accuracy is missing. Of course, we also want to achieve a good hectare output per hour, also for profitability reasons. But definitely not on the expense of working quality“, he says. And this is not only true for the three managing partners but also for the nine permanent and the numerous temporary employees. Gregor Bröcker adds: „It is all about quality – and this is where the whole team is good at.“
Significantly better and different from the average – the contractor trio from harvesse puts this attitude into practice when it comes to choose and buy new technical solutions that have not yet become standard. One example: Twelve years ago, they started to spread fertiliser with drag hoses over a working width of 27 m and in tramlines. Nobody else in the neighbourhood worked like this. They also were the first in the region to thresh grain maize – a service that in the meantime has increased to about 600 ha/year, Andreas Heike tells us. Or the use of a discharge device during the silage maize harvest. And let’s not forget the new Draper cutting unit LU Bröcker bought in 2018 that was used to harvest the first soya fields in the northern Harz foreland.
Last but not least, the latest acquisition in this respect is the Maestro RC coulter bar for the Pronto 6 AS. It was used for the first time for this year’s spring cultivation. In addition to maize and soya, it allows for sowing cereals and other „fine“ seeds with the same machine. This improves the capacity utilisation and the profitability. „The total working width of 6 m is divided into two 3-meter segments. Each segment has its own distributor to achieve a better lateral distribution and an to be able to carry out all tramline rhythms that are divisible by three“, Gregor Bröcker explains.
„At the beginning we were quite sceptical if this working principle would really be suitable for us. But we were able to test the technology intensely – in my option another plus factor for HORSCH. For we wanted to be convinced of the operational reliability and the working quality before we started to work with it on the fields of our customers. And the emergence this year confirmed that the Maestro RC seed bar was an excellent choice“, Gregor Bröcker points.
The certain difference
The contractors stick to their itinerary with regard to working quality and the desire for a „certain difference“ concerning the technology also when it comes to tillage. This sector surely is not the mainstay of sales for the contractors, but a constantly growing one. An essential factor is the increasing number of hectares of arable land the LU Bröcker manages completely more its customers. But more and more farmers use their services for the tillage sector alone. These often are farm managers who for different reasons do not want to invest in new technology or are involved in other tasks.
The backbone of the tillage sector at LU Bröcker also are HORSCH machines: first and foremost, the disc harrow Joker 6 RT with 6 m working width and knife roller (keyword special features) for maize stubble cultivation, the incorporation of liquid manure and catch crops or for a traditional seedbed preparation. This spring, they also tested a Terrano 4.4 GX with 4 m working width, approved of it and bought it. The special feature of this cultivator is the SteelFlex packer. The working result with regard to consolidation impressed the contractors. „This is one of the most important aspects on our differing soils“, Andreas Heike justifies the decision.
By the way, they do not only notice this “certain difference” with regard to technology concepts, product quality and the possibility to test the machines intensely, but also with regard to customer service, support and spare parts supply by the manufacturer respectively the responsible local dealer. In this respect, too, HORSCH’s network in the region of Braunschweig-Peine is excellent. Their dealer is NewTec Peine – and the respective contacts for HORSCH matters are Jochen Etzold and Fabian Knarr. The LU Bröcker has been working with both of them successfully for many years. „For us as a service provider it is crucial that the machines work reliably. If there is a problem – and a problem can occur with any manufacturer – it is important that there is a good service and that we get help as soon as possible. We know that with Jochen Etzold and HORSCH we are in good hands. In this respect, too, quality makes the difference – today and even more than ever in the future”, Andreas Heike summarises.
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