Mark McDougall reckons he has not been home in 30 years. At least, that’s what his wife tells him.
“We’ve got a bit going on!” Mark said.
That is something of an understatement. As well as farming two thousand head of beef cattle on his own patch in Branxholm, Tasmania, Mark leases other property, manages a second farm and, as McDougall Contracting, grows spuds and turnips, bales, mows, cultivates and excavates.
“We’ve got beef cattle but our main thing is potatoes,” said Mark. “We grow and harvest about 20,000 tonnes of spuds. We used to harvest 30,000 tonnes but we cut back this year. We’ve got all of our own tractors and trucks and machinery.
“We’ve got three or four McHale balers – they’re very good – wing mowers and other gear. We work all the northeast area, Launceston to Saint Helens and even further down, doing silage, ground preparation, training, trailers and trucks.”
A new foray into seed drilling
Recently, Mark took ownership of a 6 metre Gaspardo Gigante Pressure pneumatic direct drill, which is built around independent single disc row units and independent press wheels.
The beauty is its depth control, right at the point of seed delivery. A substantial 210 kilos of downward pressure is generated by coil springs on each row unit, enabling sowing in the most challenging conditions.
“We’ve only just got into drilling,” said Mark. “I’ve done power harrow work and air seeding, but now I have people asking me about sod seed direct drilling. Previously, I never had enough work to do it but now farmers have said, ‘If you get one we’ll use you’.
“This press wheel thing is the way to go; it’s so precise on the depth control. The people that I’ve done work for love it.
“We’ve done about 300 hectares with the Gigante. It’s just so easy to operate and I’m a farmer as well as a contractor, so I want value for money. This gives you good value for money.”
The results so far
To date, Mark has drilled permanent pasture into paddocks. The grass is already there so the drilling acts as a top up. He has also drilled oats and turnips and everything in between.
The beauty of the 6m Gigante quickly became evident. As word spreads of its performance, Mark believes his contract seed drilling work will grow.
“Everyone’s happy with it – I mean, you don’t want to be seeding 300 hectares with a three-metre drill,” said Mark. “And I like its capacity – if we really fill it up we could hold 60 to 70 hectares worth of seed, which is more than a day’s drilling.
“It’s great because it doesn’t tear the ground up – you’re not pulling up the root matter from other grass. With tine drills they tear the root matter on the existing grass and when we’re topping up the paddocks, we want to maintain as much grass as we can. That’s why people like it.”
Enter the Pantera
Another vital piece of equipment in Mark’s operation is a 5.2 metre Maschio Pantera rotary hoe. It features six blades per flange, central speed gearbox 1000 rpm PTO, 258 rpm rotor revolutions, swinging / rigid front bar hitches, safety guards and double side transmission with oil bath gears.
For road transport, the Pantera features rear lights and folding width of 249 centimetres.
“It’s a good machine,” said Mark. “We like that one. Had it for three seasons and we’ve put thousands of hours on it. Once we start working spud ground, we can work flat out for three months with the Pantera. That’s ten or more hours a day.
“We’ve got rippers in the front, so we rip to about 12 inches, say 300 millimetres, and hoe to 150 to 200 mill. That’s how we work all our ground now, with just one pass. The ripper is on the front of the hoe and it’s a big winner.”
Doing business with local specialists
Mark has a long-standing business relationship with Delmade Farm Equipment & Machinery, who are based in Westbury, Tasmania. He runs at present a Delmade 5.25m folding scarifier and a Delmade 1050 Series 48 plate offset disc.
“I’ve known them since I bought a pair of discs there 25 years ago,” Mark said. “They’re a nice crowd, good to deal with and good people. We had an issue recently they got someone out right away and rang me two or three times afterwards just to make sure everything was going okay.”
Delmade’s business excellence was recognised in March this year with an award from APAC at the 2023 Australian Enterprise Awards.
For more information contact Maschio Gaspardo on 1800 888 359 or visit maschiogaspardo.com.au