18 Harvesters on and still with Case IH Austoft
When contract harvester Gary Stockham began cutting sugarcane for the current season, it was the start of he and his staff running seven days a week.
“So all the gear’s got to go seven days a week too. Once the machine stops, everyone stops, no one gets paid. So it’s very important to keep going. Cane is crushed in about 20-22 weeks, so you have to keep the work up. All the machinery has to be going perfectly.”
The third generation sugar farmer and his wife own 200 hectares at Giru, close to the Haughton River in North Queensland’s Burdekin district. They’ve farmed there since around 1990, but have run Gary Stockham Harvesting since 1978.
While they began with a “Robot” Toft Harvester, these days they have four Case IH Austoft Sugarcane Harvesters (two 8000’s, a 7000 and a 7500 model) and two Case IH Magnum tractors (a two-year-old 315 model and 8920) among their machinery.
Gary says the drawcard to buy that original Case IH harvester was seeing and hearing how reliable they were compared with other brands.
“They seemed to go better, so that’s what I bought to start with.”
He’s kept the same way, since—but has always had a look around, just to compare, before buying new equipment.
“Oh we do look around, but I can’t see any sense in buying anything else—they’re dearer and not as good a machine; they just cross-rip too big. The Austoft, the Case IH, they’ve been the best all the time. I reckon they’re the better harvesters.”
Before harvest began, Gary prepared all his equipment, having his dealer—AgNorth at Ayr—service everything and give it the once over. Any parts that needed replacing were all genuine.
“They look after us; they keep us going all the time. It’s good backup. If anything goes wrong they’re always there. If they haven’t got the part, they’ll get one in for us, or they’ll find one somewhere to keep us going. They know our gear has to keep going.”
“We do contract planting as well, about 2,000 acres [810ha], and we have to do preparation work to the ground before we plant. That’s the same as harvesting: if that stops, everything stops, but the dealer, with their parts and service, they keep us going.”
Gary is on to Case IH Austoft harvester number 18.
“When they were just Austofts they were the best, and now they’re Case IH Austofts they’re still the best. They’re not just a good price, they’re just better than any other cane harvester.”