S McHale Agricultural Contractors

Stephen McHale manages a contracting operation near Carlisle, Cumbria. He started contracting in 2002, when his work consisted mainly of ploughing, drilling and muck spreading, as well as helping others out with his tractor. Since then, the operation has grown to all aspects of contracting and consists of an impressive line-up of John Deere machinery.

S McHale Agricultural Contractors

S McHale Agricultural Contractors

The 2020 season saw the arrival of a new John Deere 8600i forager. After a demonstration in the 2019 grass season, both Stephen and operator Graeme were particularly impressed with the forager’s outstanding performance, drivability and build quality.

Stephen explained that, “A key factor we considered when purchasing the forager was to reduce our running costs. The 3000Hr / 5 year Dura Line Guarantee on wearing parts certainly helped us tackle this”.

After a season on the John Deere 8600i SPFH, operator Graeme commented, “I’m really impressed with its usability. The cab is comfortable, visibility brilliant and all the controls are to hand. Machine set up and daily checks are quick and easy. The main body of the forager is taken care of by the auto lube system, including the header chain lubrication. Checking knife condition is also simple. I can either do a ‘V’ open, or my favoured option is to drop the header and swing open the feed rollers so I can clean off and have a thorough check around. Within a couple of minutes, I can get from the seat to safely gaining full access to the knives. When it comes to performance in the field, crop flow is excellent; the forager copes easily even with the lumpiest of rows.

The forager offers a comfortable, spacious cab. Stephen recognises how, “Operator comfort is particularly important. Some tractors will be doing 2000+ hours per year so I need to keep the operator happy if I’m expecting them to work long days!


Equipped with a Harvest Lab, Graeme commented how, “It’s brilliant for accurately applying additive depending on dry matter changes across the field. I can set how many ltrs/tonnes to apply and can trust the machine with the rest. It takes the worry away from applying the correct amount and can save money in the long run by not over applying.” Additionally, the Harvest Lab 3000 sensor, produces site specific yield maps. These maps provide the customer with information on how their fields are cropping throughout the season and from year to year. This enables informed decision making such as when and where to reseed first.

Within his fleet of machines, Stephen also runs a fleet of John Deere tractors, with a mix of 6155Rs and 6215Rs. “Like the forager, running costs were a key factor when making the decision to run John Deere tractors. I have not been disappointed; they are definitely cheaper to run than other makes I had previously. The service intervals of 750 Hrs is a huge plus point, but most of all, the reliability is brilliant.” The tractors are fitted with GPS AutoSteer, which gets used for absolutely everything. “It’s really simple to use, if I can use it, anyone can use it!” says Stephen.

"The quality back up and support from my dealer, Cornthwaite Group, has been excellent. From sales through to service and in-field support throughout the season; I get the full package."

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