We called on the agricultural business run by the Maierhofer family in the gorgeous Pöllau Valley in leafy Styria. Tracing back all the way to the 16th century, the farm has been owned and operated by the family for generations and is now managed with great devotion by Hans-Peter, the head of the farm, his girlfriend Julia, and his parents Maria and Johann.
The Maierhofer family specializes in dairy production. “The 75 dairy cows plus offspring we currently operate with afford us a good living”, explains Hans-Peter.
To provide for their animals in the best way possible, the family cultivates approx. 40 ha of pastures and 60 ha of arable land for growing grain and corn.
But, this is not always as easy as it sounds. Anyone familiar with the topography of this region knows exactly why.
We do not have the pleasure of working exclusively in favorable locations that would make our life easier. In some areas we are confronted with extremely steep slopes that are exceptionally difficult to negotiate for our machines."
Senior partner Johann already made the switch from a bunker silo to the round bale system more than 20 years ago.
“Back then, he had outgrown the capacity of our bunker silo, forcing my father to ponder the decision between an expansion or the move to round bales. In the end, the advantages of round bale silage clearly clinched it – as this solution gives us the flexibility we need to have, given the fact that the harvest season varies between our fields in the valley and those situated in the mountain.”
The Maierhofer family has been relying on round bale silage for 20 years and has already worked with 3 different balers.
“Göweil is a name we actually stumbled across by accident. We visited a fair to look for a new baler as well as a solution that would fit our farm and our agricultural land best. We had the pleasure of sitting down with a member of Göweil's staff, who - after an excellent conversation - invited us to come to Western Styria for a product demonstration of a G-1 Kombi.
The demonstration we witnessed there truly amazed us - especially with the capabilities of the drive axle in slope positions. At the time, we were not that familiar with this system, but we have certainly come to appreciate the ease with which it handles terrain. It adds braking force when you go downhill, while giving you a noticeable push uphill – better still, it keeps you from tearing up the ground you are working and really lets you work in a way that is gentle on the soil. Aside from opting for the drive axle, we also expanded our G-1 with a bale catcher.
This add-on is a feature with which we no longer want to work without. In the past, we occasionally had to deal with bales rolling away. But the bale catcher has now virtually eliminated the problem of losing bales. The tailgate opens and the bale catcher holds the bale in place until it has steadied.Only then will the tailgate open all the way and deposit the bale safely on the slope. This eases our workload tremendously as it saves us the need to drive to level ground first and lets us drop the bale right then and there”, notes Hans-Peter.
The machine is used at the family's own farm two thirds of the time. “We churn out approx. 2,000 bales a year, which is not exactly a large amount. But, we expect this machine to grow old with us. We have reached a healthy size that allows us to live comfortably and do not see the need to grow any further in the future. Nonetheless, there is always room for improvements, which is why we will continue in our attempts to constantly streamline and optimize our operation.
My girlfriend has been working on the farm full time for 2 years now and enjoys working with all of us together tremendously. There is no other job in the world we would rather do instead of farming as it simply offers you unmatched variety in your work. We stick together as a family and work in a job that fits us like a glove.