A silage contractor in County Armagh has taken delivery of the very first John Deere 8800i self-propelled forage harvester to be sold in the UK and Ireland. Garth Cairns from Waringstown, who also runs the slurry machinery and trailer manufacturing company SlurryKat, received his flagship forager from local John Deere dealership Johnston Gilpin & Co, based in Lisburn. Garth Cairns runs a large John Deere contracting fleet comprising 13 tractors and two self-propelled foragers. He ordered the new 8800i back in October 2015, to replace his 2010 model 7750, which was traded in showing 1850 hours on the clock. “We changed our 7750 as it was six years old and we were keen to upgrade to the latest technology,” said Mr Cairns. “Farmers are under intense financial pressure, as are contractors, but there is no way we could increase our prices to help increase our own cash flow. With that in mind the only solution was to reduce our costs and by upgrading to this very latest 8800i we hope to achieve that. “The new forager is actually six inches narrower and higher than our previous model, making access to fields a bit easier. Other improvements that pushed us towards the 8800i were its higher capacity, the variable speed pick-up which runs independently of the feed rollers, and of course the bigger Cummins 19-litre 845hp engine.” Johnston Gilpin’s managing director Randal McConnell and sales director Robbie Hewitt were present when the new forager was delivered. “Garth Cairns is a very loyal customer and a good example of a progressive thinking one,” said Mr McConnell. “He made the buying decision early on and ordered the machine last autumn, which gave both the factory and us plenty of time to manufacture and deliver it ahead of this year’s silage season.” Johnston Gilpin has since sold a second John Deere 8800i to another Northern Ireland silage contractor, in the Ballynahinch area.