Cover story: FAE forestry mulchers

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Forestry mulcher and tiller manufacturer FAE is sharpening its focus on Australian farms, with a new boss and a new range of implements on offer.

SSH forestry tillers can shred tree stumps of up to 70cm in diameter

It’s no secret that sales of farm machinery entered solidly positive territory in 2021 on the back of a positive season and additional government support.

But there’s one farm asset that’s more notoriously thin on the ground than ever – and that’s the ground itself, with farmland prices at record highs and some analysts asking whether land availability has hit a ceiling.

It’s a change that is leading farmers to look to cultivate land that has previously been left alone or untended – with even some former plantations being turned back into cropping country.

For Alberto Rosso, the recently appointed managing director for the Asia Pacific of forestry mulcher and tiller manufacturer FAE, it’s an interesting time to make the move Down Under.

Rosso arrived at the company’s Melbourne headquarters in April from his native Italy, settling his family here in July – realising a long-held ambition to relocate here after some years spent working in China.

"I’ve been with FAE since the end of 2019… before then I worked as a regional sales manager and director for Maschio Gaspardo Group, and before then I worked for CNH, so I built my experience on agricultural machinery in Asian markets," he says.

"I think Australians prefer to see machines work in Australia. Every country is unique and has its different challenges, but Australia is very challenging naturally – the rocks are harder, the wood is harder than in other countries.

"That is why also FAE machines are successful where quality is important, where you need to get the job done."

The SSH tiller comes with the option of either a hydraulic support roller or a wide hydraulic roller

A family-owned business with its base in Fondo, in the Italian Alps, FAE develops machines for construction and even for clearing anti-personnel mines, but its largest range is in its land-clearing equipment, with stump cutters, stone crushers and forestry mulchers all available.

Rosso adds that all the company’s forestry mulchers have been used across the world to reduce potential fuel for wildfires, with the company having a variety of options available for operators of all sizes.

FAE’s new Patrizio forestry mulcher is ideal for mulching pruning debris in vineyards and orchards, able to shred material of up to 15cm in diameter and equipped with two rows of counter blades.

Rosso says the "entry-level forestry mulcher" suits a 50–100 horsepower (37–75kW) tractor and comes with a redesigned bite limiter rotor to reduce the depth of a cut and be more power efficient.

"With a flail mower you cannot get the same result, and also the price is friendly," he adds.

However, he adds that the machine with the widest application for Aussie farmers is the SSH forestry tiller – designed with a PTO attachment and able to be coupled to tractors within 160–500hp (119–373kW) range.

Available in working widths of between 1,600–2,560mm and with 62–102 teeth, the SSH forestry tillers can shred tree stumps of up to 70cm in diameter – and can reach up to 50cm depth.

The units come fitted with interchangeable Har-dox inner anti-wear plates and offers the option of either a hydraulic support roller or a wide hydraulic roller which helps produce fine-quality compacted soil faster.

"There is an adjustable counter blade that gives you a different grade of mulching, so more in the chamber will make for finer results – though it will slow the operations a bit," he says.

The Patrizio mulcher is ideal for orchards and vineyards, and can be operated by a 50-100hp tractor

Also available is the SSH/HP model designed for higher power tractors and which Rosso says are better suited to soils with some rock content – with the optional A/3/HD teeth preferred for that situation.

To help Australian farmers with stone crushing, FAE offers the STCH stone crusher – a power take-off (PTO) attachment that can fit to tractors between 280–400hp (209–298kW).

Able to crush stones of up to 50cm in diameter and to reach a maximum operating depth of 25cm, the STCH comes in three models, with working widths of 200, 225 and 250cm.

The units come with a hydraulic counter blade that can be adjusted directly from the tractor cab, allowing the operator to check the size of shredded material without getting out of the seat, while its interchangeable Hardox wear plates make for easier maintenance.

It is also equipped with a new side-scraper system to limit side wear, adjustable skids, as  well as interchangeable protection chains.

A grader blade and dozer blade are available as options for road paving, as well as a dozing blade equipped with a spring system to level and compact the crushed material.

Rosso says feedback on the new STCH models has been positive.

"People are very enthusiastic about this machine," he says.

"It is the type of machine that you sell and you forget you have sold until the customer calls you back asking for some spare parts – we sleep very well at night!"

Rosso also rarely loses sleep over spare parts, with FAE boasting a "fully-furnished" spare parts warehouse at its Dandenong base, full of the necessary parts and teeth, which he says puts the company at an advantage over its competitors.

The heavy duty STCH stone-crusher can crush stones of up to 50cm in diameter

"With the proper servicing, we can see machines that have almost 20 years of work behind them, in perfect condition and still working well," he adds.

"More than other years, we aim to have a good stock of machines, because we think that this challenging supply chain crisis will be ongoing for at least the first half of 2022, so we will be ready with spare parts and machines in stock.

"Explaining the right maintenance of the machine is very important and giving the right advice for spare parts is what we do.

"I hope for an excellent 2022 – Australia will need agricultural land and there will also be a need for infrastructure.

"For 2022 I am quite optimistic – touch wood."  

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