Press Release   February 01, 2017

John Deere 8500i's performance and reliability impress young contractors

8000 Series SPFH range

The new 8000 Series SPFH range offers forage producers and contractors like Tim & Phil May, a more efficient cost of operation and improved fuel efficiency.

A pair of Canterbury contractors says their new John Deere 8500i Self-Propelled Forage Harvester (SPFH) provides the productivity, reliability and serviceability that their business requires.

Brothers Tim and Phil May say the 8500i is a big step up from their previous equipment. It provides more output per litre of fuel, more comfort in the cab, and better access for servicing and maintenance.

Tim and Phil began May Brothers Contracting 10 years ago, when they were still in high school. Using their parents’ farm as a base, they bought a windrower and went into business for themselves.

Over the past decade they have built up a major contracting operation that has 10 full time staff and 25 machine operators during the peak of the season.

“We provide a full range of services throughout Mid Canterbury including cultivation, drilling, windrowing, forage harvesting, baling, grain harvesting, fodder beet harvesting and trucking. Our clients are dairy, arable, deer and sheep and beef farmers,” Phil says.

“We run 13 John Deere tractors, two John Deere rotary combines, and two John Deere forage harvesters. The tractors are 89.5 kW (120 hp) up to 335.5 kW (450 hp), and they handle all sorts of applications, from mowing through to full cultivation. Our rotary combines mainly do grain harvesting, but we also harvest radish and specialty seed crops.”

The brothers purchased their 450 kW (577 hp) John Deere 8500i Self-Propelled Forage Harvester in October 2016. The 8500i is a model within the new 8000 Series which John Deere released in 2015. 8000 Series SPFHs feature a larger diameter DuraDrum™ cutterhead and redesigned crop flow system, which together deliver higher throughput with lower power consumption.

Tim says they are impressed with 8500i’s performance and its output is noticeably higher than their earlier model.

“The per-hour productivity of the 8500i is a lot better. It has the same horsepower as our other harvester but it definitely processes more crop. We have not yet analysed the fuel consumption in detail, but the output per litre of fuel is certainly higher."

“It is also a huge step up as a machine to work with. The cab is more comfortable and there is a lot more room around the machine so it is easier to work on. There is a whole different design under the hood. It is a lot roomier which is just what a mechanic or service technician wants to see.”

The John Deere 8500i has its work cut out for it with May Brothers Contracting. It will be in action for up to eight months a year, starting with grass in Spring, then moving onto cereal silage and finishing up with maize in Autumn.

Phil says the reliability of their machines is vital for both theirs and their clients’ businesses, and this is another reason why they chose the John Deere 8500i.

“The weather in Canterbury can be trying. We can get small windows to work in. Once we start moving we need to keep moving to get the crop processed before the weather changes.

“If we do have a breakdown we rely on the dealership to get out there promptly and get us going again. That is a massive thing for us and a big reason why we run John Deere gear.

“The backup we get from our local dealer, Drummond & Etheridge, is very important to us. They play a big part in our business. They provide us support when we need it, and we are very grateful for that,” Phil says.

Tim and Phil have worked with John Deere to test its latest HarvestLab™ crop sensor which is fitted to the SPFH and determines the nutrient quality of the silage as it is processed. They already run John Deere precision farming technology on many of their other machines and they plan to add HarvestLab to the 8500i when the latest version is released.

“We have AutoTrac™ guidance on our cultivation tractors, which saves us a lot of money pass to pass by not overlapping,” Phil says.

“We also have yield mapping on the combine harvesters. It shows our customers where their high yielding and lower yielding patches are. If they want to treat those areas differently we can then use variable rate to apply seed and fertiliser.”

The new 8000 Series models are designed to provide forage producers and contractors with a more efficient cost of operation and improved fuel efficiency - up to 6 percent (litres per tonne) in maize and up to 15 percent (litres per tonne) in grass. When packaged alongside the stronger design and higher horsepower performance, these machines will provide years of reliable service.


To learn more about the new 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvester models, visit or your local John Deere dealer.

About John Deere:
Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land - those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world's dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at or in New Zealand at