REVIEW: Falc Super Magnum P power harrow

By: Jaiden Drought

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The Falc Super Magnum P five-metre power harrow has been strengthened to take the massive strain these folding machines are placed under. The Falc Super Magnum P five-metre power harrow has been strengthened to take the massive strain these folding machines are placed under. The Falc Super Magnum P five-metre power harrow has been strengthened to take the massive strain these folding machines are placed under.

The Falc Super Magnum P five-metre power harrow is put to the test by Jaiden Drought in New Zealand’s deep south.


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A hard day of travel since 5am meant I was going to be pretty late getting to the test site for this review of the Falc Super Magnum P five-metre power harrow, but luckily New Zealand’s Southland was happy to turn on 16 hours of daylight, so 7pm didn’t seem that late after all.

The machine we tested had been pushing on, also. This power harrow hadn’t had a day off since it was purchased, clocking up over 3000 hectares worth of work in spring alone.

It was an upgrade from a fixed 3.5m (of another colour) to a 5.0m folding, due to a significantly increased workload as the popularity of fodder beet exploded in New Zealand.

Here’s a fun fact: five years ago there were probably less than 500 hectares of fodder beet grown in the whole country. Now there is approximately 40,000 hectares of beet, of which more than 30,000 is grown in the South Island. 

This popularity has really taken off in Southland and Canterbury, where growing maize can be a little sketchy. Given the massive yield variability of maize in less than ideal conditions, fodder beet seems a very cost-effective solution. Given the high energy and yield potential of beet, New Zealand has become one of the largest growers of fodder beet globally.

Back in little Otautau, northern Southland, I caught up with Eddie Rabbit, who owns and runs Rabco Ag. This Farmchief Falc Magnum power harrow has been doing the business for Eddie and the boys, having managed such a large area in a short period, with many of the paddocks being double power harrowed for a fine seedbed for the fodder beet to thrive.

If you have been to Southland, you will know that the land can vary and change quite quickly, so this has not been 3000ha of plain sailing. It has been fraught with wood, rocks and, if the paddock we tested it in was anything to go by (where the farmer had done the old "I will save myself some money" and done the spraying himself), then around 3000kg/DM/ha cover being ploughed in is also something the Falc had to overcome.

 

COMPANY HISTORY 

Falc was established in Faenza, Italy in 1960 by present managing director, Piero Zama. Fast-forward 50 years and the Italian site boasts an area of 40,000sqm (18,000 of which is covered) and six main assembly lines (allowing the manufacture of 66 different models of machines).

The machines produced by Falc are exported to 60 different countries, with exports making up 83 per cent of total business revenue. Today, the Zama family still owns 100 per cent of the business. The company has been active in Australia for 25 years, and in New Zealand for over 22 years.

 

The Falc Super Magnum P fully folded in the transport position.

FEATURES

Build quality

The first thing that stood out for me was the amount of metal in this power harrow. At 3.6 tonnes, the machine is no lightweight. For the 5.0m working width and given the 550mm packer roller, the John Deere 8260R knew it was on the back.

The Super Magnum frame has been strengthened to take the massive strain these folding machines are placed under.

The frame is fully supported from top and lower linkage, with front to back heavy RHS bracing and wide pivot points for the wings. Thanks to hydraulic latches, this makes folding and unfolding a breeze.

These large braces also double as the perfect spot to mount a rear drawbar for a roller or air seeder for a one-pass machine in cultivated ground.

 

The scrapers on the packer roller work well.

Bearings and seals

This was almost top of the list for Eddie when looking to purchase a power harrow, as these two things were giving him a lot of grief with his old machine.

On the Super Magnum, a nifty design of the bottom seal, made from rubber and cellular polyurethane, is fully enclosed in the rotor housing above the rotor lip. If the seal does need replacing (which is usually due to rubbish in the paddock getting caught in the seal as opposed to a failure of the seal itself), simply undo one nut and remove the quick change tine holder and you are into it.

Above the seal, to take all the strain and load of the machine in the paddock, are two large taper roller bearings fully encased in semi fluid for longer life.

 

Quick fit system

Whoever invented quick-change anything is a genius in my books, as mower blades and power harrow tines that need to be changed manually feel like you are back in the dark ages.

On the Falc, the blade carriers use a simple pin with a linchpin on each side. Being circular reduces the risk of jamming and allows easy fitting of the optional stone protectors.

 

The optional hydraulic levelling board.

Rotor clearance

Another key for Eddie, due to the amount of stone and wood in some of the country they work on, was a large amount of clearance between the trough and the rotors to allow trash to flow through. With the Super Magnum, this received a big tick.

Another new feature is improved trash protection plates. These stop trash and obstacles from going through the rotors that are turning back, but allow trash to clear through rotors moving forward, and as a result should minimise the number of tines that get broken.

For really hard stony conditions, bolt-on stone protectors are also available.

 

Rotor number

This can be a critical element to the horsepower requirements of the machine, as large rotors and large gaps mean a heap of torque is required to turn them. Falc has opted for 25cm spacing of the rotors regardless of width.

The two centre tines overlap by 15mm for an even cultivation job on the complete width. This was a little untidy during the test and the trash wasn’t all buried. However, to be fair to the machine, the amount of green grass in the furrows didn’t give it a chance.

 

A handle alters the amount of material the levelling board keeps in the power harrow.

Low vibrations

The tine rotors are phased at different angles rather than at 90-degrees to each other, allowing the tines to be working across the face of soil rather than bulldozing. This reduces vibration and power requirements.  It is an option to have tines at 90degrees for biggest trash flow.

One thing I was very impressed with is the solid spline driveshaft, which significantly increases the strength of the shaft as it moves in and out during peak loading.

This was very handy on the test machine, as the John Deere had a three-point linkage quick hitch that moved the machine further back from the tractor, therefore extending the shaft and placing more force on the mid section of the shaft.

 

HD tines

The machine comes with the option of 15mm or 18mm tines. The power harrow we tested had 18mm HD tines at 320mm long.

Tungsten chip hard facing, which will increase working life, is also an option. The combination of the shape of the blades and the overlapping of the centre two tines means you get mixing of soil over the entire working width of the machine.

 

Rear rollers

There are a number of different roller options: cage; flexi coil, etc; or the spiked packer roller that was on the test machine.

Again, two different options are available: the 460mm diameter; or the larger and much heavier 550mm diameter maxi packer roller that was on the test machine.

Also fitted was the hydraulic rear roller, which means you can adjust depth control on the move.

A hydraulic levelling bar mounted off the roller is also an option to adjust the amount of dirt carried in the power harrow on the move. This would be very handy for contouring.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

I was very impressed with the build quality of the Falc Super Magnum P five-metre power harrow and the ease in which seals could be replaced without the need to remove anything other than a main bolt in the tine cradle.

This machine had been working hard in some marginal country at times, and although it looks a little trashy in the pictures, this will be power harrowed again to ensure a nice tight fluffy seedbed for the beet.

To be honest, the paddock had a considerable amount of green lush grass before ploughing, which unfairly reflects on the power harrow.

The maxi roller is the business on the back. I was very impressed with the firmness of the finish. This, combined with top build quality, hydraulic unlocking and depth control on the roller, plus the option of a hydraulic levelling board, means it will tick the boxes of many buyers’ requirements.

 

HITS

  • Hydraulic unlock
  • Large 550mm diameter packer roller is very impressive
  • Very easy seal replacement should the need arise
  • Quick-change tines
  • Hydraulic rear roller means depth adjustment on the move
  • Hydraulic levelling board off the rear roller allows you to carry more or less dirt with you depending on the conditions
  • Solid centre drive shaft can handle large torque loadings
  • Phased gearing and close tine spacing resulting in lower power requirements

MISSES

  • The side plates’ contour following could be better
  • The ridging and trash burying was a little disappointing although the conditions were unfair on the power harrow

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