"With my Puma 3, I can handle all 500 hectares"
In 2017 contractor Lieven De Pourcq chose to invest in an AVR Puma 3. We were interested in his motives and experiences.
- Name: Lieven De Pourcq
- Place of residence: East Flanders, Belgium
- Position: self-employed contractor
- Hectares: ± 500/year (spread across 65-70 customers)
- Age: 48
Hello Lieven, what is your experience with AVR?
Well, actually I have been an AVR fan right from the beginning. I have been driving AVR harvesters throughout my career: initially the 2-row harvesters, an ARB and a Mistral, and in recent years 4-row machines.
I traded in my previous Puma+ for a Puma 3 in 2017 after three seasons.
Why did you chose to switch from 2 to 4 row harvesting?
At the time, I decided to switch from my two 2-row machines to a self-driving 4-row harvester because I was getting more and more customers, and so I had to cover more hectares (up from approximately 200 to 500 ha). The type of soil those customers had also played a role. The heavier soils require a flexible machine and more sophisticated cleaning, and I found that on the AVR Puma.
The price tag also matters. By opting for a 4-row self-driver, I can handle all 500 hectares myself, which saves paying for an extra driver.
And I also have to take account of the requirements of the processors. They want to get the crop quickly from the field to the factory, to cut the drivers' waiting times. For example, they like trucks to be filled within an hour. With a 4-row harvester, you can easily handle that capacity. I fill around 10 to 12 trucks per day.
What is the biggest advantage of this machine?
The engine of my current Puma 3 runs at an average of 1100 rpm and uses remarkably little fuel. I would go so far as to say that, depending on the conditions and in comparison with 7 years ago, I needed about 80 to 90 l/ha, and now I only use 40 to 50 l. So fuel consumption has almost halved!
The engine is also amazingly quiet. It really is a pleasure to be sitting in the cab. People who phone me while I am in the cab are usually astonished when I tell them I am harvesting, because they can't hear the engine running inside. That means it is really quiet when you are working.
Apart from the engine, the levelling of the haulm topper is a great advantage in my opinion. The haulm is neatly topped over the whole area, which was not always the case.
Thanks to its two haulm rollers, it separates the topped haulm very effectively from the product flow. That's an advantage that is greatly appreciated by the potato processors, something that they are always telling me.
What has been your user experience?
I find the Puma a relatively easy machine to operate. What is more, when you buy a new machine, AVR invites every driver to their Driver's Course, where we get to know all the possibilities and harvesting settings of the Puma. It is also convenient that there are other drivers present, because we learn a lot from each other's experience in the field. That makes sure you get off to a flying start.
What's great about AVR is that it is an innovative company, but with a family heart. They are continuously working on hi-tech improvements to existing machines, or developing completely new machines, but they stay close to the market by listening to us, the users. We see that feedback yielding results later, which is good to see.
About maintenance, I can say that the cost remains reassuringly low. Parts are easy to replace and don't cost an arm and a leg.
What is the experience of the potato processors you (or your customers) supply?
80% of my customers supply their crop direct to the potato processor, and only 20% keep them in storage. In the winter, the processors, growers and us contractors meet regularly to discuss the harvesting season. Then you hear that they are satisfied with the quality of the potatoes harvested and the net yield. Occasionally there is a stone in there, but I have never known a machine that takes the majority of the stones out mechanically, so that is pretty good too.
What could be improved about the machine?
I wonder what, I would have to think about that. If I had to say anything, I would say that the bunker hopper is a bit small, but on the other hand, it is the ideal size for unloading while driving. So it is an advantage as well as a disadvantage, depending on what you need at the time.
In principle, it is the right size for the hopper, so I can't really make any suggestions.
What are your dreams for the future?
I learned the business from my father, who is now in his seventies, but is still working. I would really love it if, in turn, my son wanted to come into the business. Then we would have three generations working together. My son is 15 now, and is training to get his G driving licence, so who knows what may happen in the near future ...
Thank you Lieven, and we hope your son gets to work with you soon!