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Customer Testimonial, September 2018

Customer: Craig Basso


Location: Silkwood, North Queensland 4856

Harvesters: 2018 Case IH Austoft 8810 track  |  1997 Case IH Austoft 7700 track

Tonnage: 160,000 tonnes per season  (contract harvesting)

Joe Pasquale (Sales Manager, QMAC Machinery), Andrew McDonald (Director), Craig Bass and our Harvester Product Specialists, Jason Gordon (McDonald Murphy Machinery, Mackay) and Clive Moyle (QMAC Machinery, Nth Qld).

Joe Pasquale (Sales Manager, QMAC Machinery), Andrew McDonald (Director), Craig Bass and our Harvester Product Specialists, Jason Gordon (McDonald Murphy Machinery, Mackay) and Clive Moyle (QMAC Machinery, Nth Qld).

I’ve been involved in the sugar industry all my life and own a small property in the Silkwood region which is located roughly halfway between Tully and Innisfail in North Queensland. I mainly work as a harvesting contractor, today operating in the nearby El Arish area which supplies the Tully Sugar Mill.

With the average rainfall in the Tully region often exceeding 160 inches a year, I have no choice but to stick with track cane harvesters as the ground here just gets too wet for wheeled ones.

At the beginning of this season, I took delivery of the newly released Case IH Austoft 8810 cane harvester from the local dealer, QMAC Machinery at Innisfail. This replaced a John Deere 2016 CH570 model which I had had for the last two years. I also have an older Austoft harvester (1997 7700 series) which I intend to replace shortly as well with the newer model.

So far, the new 8810 Austoft has about 800 hours on it, having cut a bit over 50,000 tonnes this season. I’ve been very happy with the harvester and to be honest, it does the same job as what the last one did. What I’ve mainly been impressed with and what I’ve been wanting, is better aftersales service and support with the harvester. I can’t speak highly enough of the support I’ve received with this harvester from Case IH and the dealer, QMAC Machinery – Innisfail.

Prior to taking delivery of the 8810, I had the dealers install aftermarket chopper drums. As suggested by the dealer, I went back to the standard choppers which were fitted about 6 weeks into the season and was happier with the results. Despite having the crop dividers set at the standard width of 1.5m, I also find the 8810 has no issues cutting the wider rows. On average I’m cutting 1.6m rows but for example today, I’m cutting 1.9m wide dual rows and the harvester is handling it without a problem.

One of the features of the Austofts that really stand out for me, is the use of a single control joystick to operate the harvester. With the previous John Deere model, it was fitted with a steering wheel which I found difficult to manoeuvre the tracks with. I prefer and find it easier and more natural to use the joystick control.

The noise levels in the cab are good, about the same as the John Deere. It is quite comfortable inside making it easy to operate. Being fitted with cruise control and GPS enables me to easily maintain my speed and keep it driving straight, which is especially handy at night. The harvester came fitted with Trimble GPS standard accuguide. I was then able to install my own monitor and receiver that I already had.

Case IH has really thought of everything to make it easier for the operator in the cab. The 8810 seems to have larger side mirrors, which make it so much easier to see what is going on behind and off to the side. In addition, one of its new features of having cameras fitted around the harvester that display images on the monitor in the cab is really handy. Being wide angle cameras, they give you a really good view in places you wouldn’t normally be able to see what is going on. The only thing I would look at changing with this, which I’ve discussed with the dealer, is to have the images displayed on a separate monitor, so that they are always and easily available.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with the new Austoft 8810 so far and look forward to continue to work closely with the Case IH dealer, QMAC Machinery Innisifail as they provide the support and service I need to successfully operate my contracting business.

Craig Basso