Modern Comforts

Products mentioned in this article: M Series SP Windrowers

“This new cab makes the day a lot shorter – we can just keep on going because it’s not nearly as fatiguing.”

Over the last few decades the changing realities of farm economics have forced many producers to get bigger, or get out of the game altogether. But the Brisson family of Manitoba took another path to keep them on the land they love – diversification.

“We grow canola, wheat, barley, flax, oats, alfalfa, alfalfa grass mix and clover; we’re certainly not too picky with what we grow” said Robert Brisson, one of four brothers now managing their fourth generation family farm near the small community of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes. “We also keep about 100 beef cattle and do some custom cutting, as well as operate an apiary (beekeeping) and a small trucking business hauling potash, wheat and barley down to the U.S.”

Although the brothers share in the work on their 2,200 acre (890.3 hectare) farm, management of crop and cattle operations tend to fall to Robert and his brother Gilles, while brothers Michel and Daniel are responsible for the apiary and trucking businesses respectively. A fifth brother – the youngest Joel – works in the ag industry and operates his own land in conjunction with his four brothers.

“There’s only so much income you can squeeze out of the farm. We’ve had to add other businesses to both keep us busy and moving forward.”

Brisson says that the energy and imagination the brothers apply to their farming pursuits has no doubt been handed down through the family from their great grandparents who first homesteaded the farm in 1892.

“Those early homesteaders like our great grandparents definitely had courage. To come here and start a farm from scratch and face our winters – it’s just crazy what they did. When you are breaking land and experience just how much hard work it is, you really come to appreciate just how much they went through. Today we do it with machinery like bulldozers, but they did it with horses and hand tools.”

And speaking of machinery that makes tough jobs easier, Brisson says the family is equally appreciative of the latest addition to their business – their new MacDon-built Westward M205 windrower. Although they had been very pleased with the performance of their previous windrower (a MacDon-built Prairie Star 4930 with a MacDon 972 Draper Header and 920 Auger Header), Brisson admits that their new one is a giant step forward in harvesting technology, especially in terms of operator comfort. He says that it is not unusual for them to put in 16 to 18 hour days at harvest time, working from dawn until well after sunset.

“This new cab makes the day a lot shorter. It used to be that you would work so many hours and you would have to take a break, but now that’s not the case – we can just keep on going because it’s not nearly as fatiguing.”

Brisson points to the cab’s roomier interior and improved sound proofing as being two important contributors to the better harvesting experience, but for him and his brothers the biggest impact has been the M Series’ addition of a four-corner custom tuned independent Ultra Glide™ suspension system. According to Brisson, MacDon’s Ultra Glide™ – which helps prevent cab roll and chop – makes it much easier to stay in the seat hour after hour.

Another major difference the Brissons have noticed on their new M205 over their previous windrower, although they have yet to take full advantage of it, is the volume of harvesting information that it delivers to them in real time via MacDon’s Harvest Manager Pro – the windrower’s computerized monitoring and header control system.

“To be honest, we’re still getting used to having so much information available to us, but having cutting performance information available should be helpful when we start testing and fine tuning the machine. And because you can adjust most of the features on the machine from the cab, this type of information will let us optimize the machine for current conditions.”

But beyond comfort and enhanced information, Brisson says that the most remarkable thing on the M Series is something that they originally thought to be a gimmick.

“One thing that really surprised us was the value of the Dual Direction® feature. It turned out to be way more convenient than we thought it might be because, when you think of it, going down the highway backwards does seem awkward. But it actually rides better in the transport direction at high speed than it does in the cutting direction.” 

Brisson says that Dual Direction® has turned out to be a big time saver for them, especially when they are doing custom cutting jobs on their neighbors’ fields. As far as the machine’s durability, Brisson claims that they haven’t put enough hours on yet to make an evaluation, but they fully expect similar reliability to previous MacDon equipment that they have owned.

“We’ve been using MacDon equipment going back to the ’80s when we had a MacDon draper on our International combine. Our last MacDon windrower was a very reliable unit and we put on about 2,800 hours over the 10 years that we owned it. We’d run other makes of windrower before and have had our troubles, but this one was almost trouble free.”

“And if there is any trouble, it’s been our experience that MacDon stands behind its product if there is anything wrong. That’s important to us, because if a company won’t fix a machine that you have a problem with, well that doesn’t do much for your resale. If you’ve got a machine out there that isn’t performing and word gets out, basically nobody wants it. So then you’re stuck with something that has lost all of its value.”

And that’s definitely not the case with MacDon equipment in his area says Brisson, one of the reasons the family continues to place their faith in the brand.

“In these parts MacDon certainly has a hold on the cutting market.”