Harvesting Performance Pays For Itself
Kasparas Mulevičius faces less-than-ideal conditions with his harvests, but MacDon helps him get more with every acre.
When Kasparas Mulevičius met with a MacDon dealer in Lithuania, where he and his father farm 730 hectares (1803 acres) of land, and was given the opportunity to test drive an FD235 header, he knew right away that it would be a game-changer for his farming business.
"When you try it, you can never go back to your other header; you're assured 100 percent, and you're sure it's the best thing," says Mulevičius, 29.
"There are some people nearby who have owned MacDon for three years… and we were talking, and my colleague said, 'When you try it, you do the demonstration, and then you start harvesting with your own combine and a worse header than MacDon, you really see the difference.' And then you think, 'I need it!"
The Mulevičius's land is located mainly in the northern part of Lithuania, near the Latvian border. Kasparas's father, Valdas Mulevičius, started the farm from nothing in 1992. As Kasparas explains it, after Lithuania restored independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, his father regained some land previously owned by his grandparents, including a little house and building. There was a discussion among family members about who should take the land, and he decided he'd try his hand at farming.
He started with about ten hectares (24 acres), and now it has grown to 730 hectares (1803 acres).
"We grew a little bit," laughs Kasparas.
Largely the land they work in is relatively flat, with some slight elevation here and there, but nothing Kasparas would necessarily qualify as hilly. The soil type varies widely depending on location.
"For around 400 hectares (988 acres), we have clay soil, and it's a harder one, but it's more rewarding, of course. And for the rest of our about 300 hectares (741 acres), we have… it's not completely sand, but it's somewhere between loam and sand. So it's way easier and, of course, not so rewarding. But we work what we have," Kasparas explains.
And, with the help of a staff of four or five people, they can successfully grow various crops, including winter wheat, rapeseed oil, peas, beans, and spring barley for beer.
Kasparas has only run his new FD235 for one season. However, he already has been able to see a positive and substantial difference in the way all his crops are harvested, especially when facing extreme weather changes, which Kasparas believes are due to climate change – including very windy summers, isolated downpours of rain that flood his fields followed by weeks without a drop, and hotter summer temperatures than they've previously experienced – as well as difficult conditions when it comes to the crops themselves.
The FD2 series of headers is known for increased capacity, speed and flex performance compared to the previous FD1 series. Especially pertinent to Kasparas is the 70 percent more flex offered by the FD2, which allows the header to perform exceptionally even with extreme ground fluctuations, delivering smooth, consistent feeding to the combine.
"The FD2 has really helped us work well, especially in bad conditions. The bad conditions were we had flat crops; we had 200 hectares (494 acres) of flat winter wheat and about 80 hectares (198 acres) of almost flat peas. I'd say maybe up to five centimetres high, so really flat," Kasparas says.
"I wouldn't say we mastered the header; even at this point, there is still learning to do. But we're doing a really good job now, and this season shows it; we notice that we are able to pick all the grain from the ground. Our winter wheat was lying really flat, and it picked up everything.
"Of course, the header doesn't look like it only did one season. It looks like it worked maybe two or three, but that's normal here." he laughs. "It picks all the wheat, mostly all of the peas. The MacDon header costs a little bit more, but it gave us a lot more back, so it's a great deal, I would say.
With new technology always comes a bit of nerves, but Kasparas said he and his combine driver were able to navigate the new header fairly easily and without too steep a learning curve.
"It was nervous for me, and maybe even more for the combine driver because there's much to learn. It's completely different from our previous header," Kasparas says. "But these nervous situations and such problems… and I would say problems in a good way because everything new you buy and use is tricky at the start because you have to understand it and use it properly. So that's a good problem because you can learn and master it, and it's not a problem anymore."
If they did have questions, Kasparas says MacDon's customer service has been a" ten out of ten" so far based on his experience, especially when a crew came to film some content and was able to offer insights and advice at the same time.
And the FD235 isn't just effective in getting the best possible yield when harvesting; the cut's closeness and evenness also help prepare for the following year's growing season, a huge bonus for Kasparas, who admits they don't typically invest a lot in ground preparation. It's a cycle – the more even the cut, the more consistent the stubble, and the more straw and residue going through the combine means, the better it spreads and the better it lays for next year.
"It's really helped us to prepare because when we are harvesting, we are also doing the first job before our next crop. It's the cutting and preparing for even and normal groundwork. For example, we are using a disc harrower, so if it's cut even, it works evenly. It doesn't jump, doesn't make any depth differences between, for example, if we're doing around seven or eight centimetres, it's almost everywhere like that with the MacDon cut. We had problems before MacDon because the cut was not even, the straw was longer, and the disc harrower didn't go as deep as we wanted. So somewhere it's five centimetres, somewhere it's eight, and it makes for not such a great start for the next crop." he says.
"There was one reason we wanted this header even more – because we're not investing much in the ground preparation," he continues. "We're not doing a lot of runs. We do the first pass to get the weeds and leftovers in the field. We apply manure the second time, then go with the disc harrower, and that's it. I'm not doing a very even job as our fields are not really even. But I think the MacDon header helps us to save a lot of money and expenses.
"The ground is not even, and the MacDon really compensates for that and eliminates that factor when we have a bad cutting. And you know, we pushed that problem to the next year, to the next crop every year, and the cycle went on for many years, but MacDon really helped us. It cuts even, and it takes everything from the ground. It copies the ground surface. It's really great."
From the moment Kasparas first tested that FD2 header back when he met with his local dealers, to now, after using the FD235 for an entire season and putting the machinery through its paces, he maintains his MacDon FlexDraper is worth every penny he invested in it. For him, that hands-on demonstration experience is what made all the difference when he was considering purchasing his FD235, and he would encourage any potential customer to do the same if they have questions or reservations about the quality or performance of MacDon headers.
"If someone is unsure that they need it, I would offer them to just try it, and all their questions will be answered. I didn't have any other questions after, I was convinced we needed it," he says. "And we did it like that; we had the demonstration for 50 hectares (124 acres), and after that, me and my father talked and (decided) we have to buy it."
And after just one season with the FD235, Mulevičius confidently says they are "sticking with it for the long run!"