Lister Wilder - Agricultural Testimonials

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Väderstad

Classy Rolls stands the test of time

Having enjoyed some 20 years of solid service from a set of Väderstad Rollex rollers, Frank Nixey saw no reason for change when the time finally came to invest again.

A seven-mile trip from his farm near Watlington in Oxfordshire to Lister Wilder’s Wallingford depot was all that was needed to confirm that the “Rolls” had lost none of its solid performance characteristics so he quickly committed to a new RX620. 

Now after a further seven years of service, Frank’s views of the Väderstad have changed not a jot. “We are very pleased with them,” he confirms. “They are well made and nothing has broken. It’s a simple piece of equipment, does the job it’s meant to, folds and unfolds smoothly and is easily transported.”

Weight is a key factor for Frank on the sometimes heavy land he farms at Manor Farm in the village of Cuxham where his grandfather moved the family in the 1920s. The arable element of his mixed business grows winter wheat, spring peas and spring barley. His original purchase decision was also influenced by the fact that the Rolls is sufficiently lightweight to tow up steep slopes with smaller tractors than the Massey Ferguson 6480s that have since taken over. 

At 2.8 metres folded width, they tuck in well behind the tractors on the narrower roads around Cuxham. 

While Frank aims to put more of his temporary grassland back under the plough in the next few years, he is currently using a Kverneland cultivator and six-metre tine seeder drill. 

He finds the “Rolls” in its basic form does all that he asks of it so has not opted to add a crossboard heavy levelling board for improved bulldozing effect. And he hasn’t needed to change the Cambridge rings for Crosskill rings for more aggressive cultivation. Nor has he opted for steel rings for use behind a stubble cultivator.

“It does all I ask of it and I very happy with it,” he says.

The farm has been a Lister Wilder customer since the 1980s.

Frank Nixey

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Väderstad

Carrier adds a new dimension

With a TopDown and Rapid drill already in his machinery fleet, Richard Davey was convinced that there remained a gap he could very effectively fill with a large and utterly versatile Carrier cultivator from the same Väderstad stable. 

With a TopDown and Rapid drill already is his machinery fleet, Richard Davey was convinced that there remained a gap he could very effectively fill with a large and utterly versatile Carrier cultivator from the same Väderstad stable. But he found it difficult to justify the cost of the top-of-the-range CRB925 with its nine-metre plus working width.

But then he bumped into a neighbour who had been similarly impressed by a Lister Wilder demo and the answer was obvious – share the cost.

“It’s an arrangement that is working very well,” says Richard who farms a total of some 3,000 acres on the edge of the Chilterns in Oxfordshire. “The only ground rule is that if you have it and the other wants it, you are only allowed two to three days at a time. But given that it can cover 200 acres a day, you can do a huge amount over three days.

 “Performance-wise we are very happy. It gives us the opportunity to do the first shallow cultivation to get a chit and definitely creates a better seed bed, especially in the spring. It works very well in front of the Rapid. On some ground, we can get away with running over just once and then drill directly behind it.”

But it is when you team up the carrier with the Rapid and TopDown that Väderstad’s system really delivers results over Richard’s total of 3,000 acres to cover over soil conditions ranging from clay and flints through gravels and chalk to greensand, gault clay and brash.

Richard opts mainly for min till and for one pass with the Carrier and one with the TopDown but varies the order in which they operate to suit conditions. 

Richard Davey

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Väderstad

Fast and flawless

Speed is important in a busy contract farming business which needs to move its machinery between far-flung sites.

But Stephen Doble chose a Väderstad CRD300 drill not just because towing it behind a tractor as opposed to loading it onto a trailer saved him around two hours a time. He also likes the fact that, in the hands of his skilled arable operator Murray Maudlin, it can achieve working speeds of 16 kph. Spread across the 75 fields that Stephen farms in south Oxfordshire, that adds up to a considerable saving. 

Stephen is the fourth generation of his family at Shiplake Farm in the Thames Valley between Henley-on-Thames and Reading. He has a total of 1,400 acres, of which 1,200 acres is arable, growing wheat, barley, rape, maize and poppies on a four-year rotation.

The land mainly overlies gravel which drains readily, with the odd chalk bank. With conserving moisture critical, Stephen particularly admires the way the CRD300’s packer does its job. 

The stone is hard on working metal – a factor which persuaded Stephen not to use the carrier drill’s two machines-in-one flexibility in preparing the ground ahead of sowing. “Given its importance, I would rather keep it in pristine condition and not wear it out too quickly,” he says.

The land the business covers is spread over a seven-mile radius around Shiplake - a critical factor in the choice of the three-metre mounted carrier drill as a replacement for the previous four-metre rigid combination. It’s especially relevant when it comes to negotiating the traffic-lined streets of upmarket Henley-on-Thames en route to land at Peppard.

“We used to lose a lot of time taking it on and off a trailer to move it,” says Stephen. “With the carrier drill, we just hitch it up and away we go. Even though it is narrower we still get more done in a day because we don’t waste two hours at a time loading and unloading.”

He adds: “Murray can achieve 16kph with a 160 hp tractor while doing a high quality job, which means the drill averages around 65 acres a day.”

Another downside of the old combination drill was the fact that its Suffolk coulters didn’t cope with trash. The CRD’s Swedish steel hardened disks simply cut through it effortlessly. Each disc is suspended individually on one coulter arm to ensure a perfect flow and depth precision. The drill is a good choice in stony soils like Stephens’s because the discs don’t pull up stones.

Stephen and Murray both like the accurate depth control. “We have drilled everything bar maize with it – and that includes grass seed,” says Stephen. “Last year, we were able to keep going in the wettest conditions because the packer cleans so well. That would not have been possible with our old combination. 

“We are chuffed to bits with it. It’s been good value for money, does a quality job at speed and still manages to maintain output.”

Stephen Doble

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Väderstad

Cultivating a great team

Flexibility is the name of the game when you have land to work ranging from heavy Oxford clay through Chilterns chalk to Thames Valley gravel (some of it occasionally dipping beneath the floods). 

The mix has guided an approach to cultivation from Bernard Wallis based on tried, tested and versatile Vaderstad equipment. A TopDown takes the lead immediately after harvesting in the autumn and an eight-metre NZ Aggressive goes in after ploughing on land being prepared for spring barley and beans. 

Bernard and his team of three farm three distinct blocks of land across a stretch of southern Oxfordshire totalling some 2,000 acres. The gravel element is at Zouch Farm at Culham just east of Abingdon, the chalk on a block at Ewelme near Wallingford and the heavy stuff at Rofford, near Chalgrove. His arable base is complemented by a pig rearing contract.

The wider Wallis family has been farming in neighbouring Berkshire for over 400 years. Bernard’s own grandfather grew coffee in Africa in the 1950s before coming home to Oxfordshire to set up the forerunner of today’s business.

Bernard varies his approach to suit the weather and ground conditions, but in general terms opts for min till for the autumn work for oil seed rape and winter wheat. He likes to plough every three years and does so ahead of his spring crops of barley and beans. 

“I generally use the NZ after ploughing to give me tilth,” says Bernard. “On my lighter land, it enables me to cover the ground very quickly. On the heavier ground, depending on whether the frost has been in, I go through twice with the NZ or sometimes have to use a power harrow.

“I like the NZ because it has a levelling board at the front to create a nice even seed bed and because every single clod gets hit three or four times. The alternative I looked at had wider spacing between the tines but the NZ hits everything.”

He adds: “In the autumn, after the combine has been through the field, we go through with the TopDown as quickly as we can to get the weeds chitting, then spray it off and drill. I bought the TopDown after borrowing a neighbour’s when my old cultivator broke down and have never looked back since. 

“I like the tilth it leaves, the fact that it has a shallow disk on the front to move a couple of inches of soil and adjustable legs to go down to 12 inches plus a levelling disk and packer roller. It leaves a good, firm and level seed bed.”

Bernard’s TopDown is equipped with a Bio-Drill which he says he has used once to very good effect. He prefers, however, to let the weeds chit from the false seed bed created by the TopDown and then go back in to drill separately. He also keeps a power harrow in reserve for tough times but prefers not to use it.

And what of his relationship with Lister Wilder? “I have been absolutely delighted with them and would recommend them to anybody,” he says. “Having said that, the Vaderstad equipment is very well made and reliable, so I rarely need to call on the dealer team for repairs. But when I want them they are there.”

Bernard Wallis

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Kverneland

When the going gets tough . . . the Kverneland seed drill gets going

As the long hot summer drew to a close, the worry for father and son team Jonathan and Roger Seed was that the ground was too dry to make an ideal seed bed on the heavy Oxford clay they farm at Long Crendon north of Thame. 

The relief when it finally started raining was, however, short-lived - because it then didn’t stop! Soon, they were facing the same challenge as in the awful autumn of 2012 and their power harrow combination couldn’t cope with the incessant wet. For the second year in succession, they were contemplating over-wintering seed. 

It was at that point that Roger put out a call for help to Lister Wilder’s Area Sales Manager, Nigel Quinton, having bought a Maschio power harrow, Western grain trailer, and Amazone spreader from the company in recent years. 

The family business of JH Seed & Son goes back to Roger’s grandfather who moved to Buckinghamshire from a farm on the Cambridgeshire/Lincolnshire border in 1980. In the years since, the business has expanded from 350 to 760 acres through contract farming arrangements.

“On the deep and heavy Oxford clay on the home farm it’s very much about getting it right in the autumn,” says Roger. “If you do, we usually have a fair harvest because summer drought stress is less of an issue. However, soil structure and black grass management is everything. We have got to create the right soil profile for good autumn growth and root development of winter cereals, whilst also delaying drilling long enough to maximise our black grass control opportunities. This usually means drilling in early-mid October and with the uncertainty of the weather in recent years, this has become a relatively risky strategy on heavy clay soils.

“It was very frustrating that this year - we went from a position of being relatively dry and needing rain to flush the black grass and create a finer tilth, to the ground quickly getting away from us. My rain gauge showed over six inches of rain between mid-October and the end of November. 

“We tried a tine drill last year on some lighter ground which we contract farm and it enabled us to get across a large acreage pretty quickly,” says Roger. “The problem was that there weren’t a lot of them around because everyone was having the same problem.”

Nigel did, however, have the answer. “I happened to be working on a Kverneland tine drill when Roger called me and, having had some experience of them since they were launched ten years ago, I was confident it would do the job. Better still, we happened to have just one left in stock.”

The Kverneland in question is a six-metre, 48-row tine seeder with hydraulic fan for greater flexibility, tram-lining, half-width shut-off and pre-emergence marker. After a hasty visit to Lister Wilder’s depot at Wallingford to view the available drill, Roger placed an order two days later. Within hours, the company assigned a fitter to assemble the drill. It had its pre-delivery inspection the following day and Nigel’s colleague, Mike Foyle, delivered it on the back of a tractor. It was just two days from order to delivery. 

Says Roger: “Speed was critical because the weather was closing in. We had nothing drilled on our own land bar oil seed rape. We had nearly 300 acres of cereals to get in and we didn’t have an acre drilled. It could have very easily become a repeat of last year.” 

“Within an hour of putting it on a tractor (and having undergone a health and safety briefing) we were using it. It was the end of October and we got drilled up within a catchy week’s weather at a work rate of up to six hectares an hour.” 

“I was comfortably capable of knocking out about 40 hectares a day where it would have been 15 or 16 hectares with the three-metre combination. It was exceptionally good - easy to calibrate and set up on the tractor, and simple to fill and use.”

He adds: “I really want to thank Lister Wilder and Nigel because in this trade, and the way things are today, it is very easy to feel that you are forgotten. But I could not have asked for more from a dealer and a salesman. The service was exceptional – Nigel made realistic promises about what he could deliver and then actually exceeded our expectations. He knows the equipment, has knowledge of the farm and uses his extensive experience.

“We were right on the limits in terms of getting drilled up at the optimum time and are very grateful to Lister Wilder for pulling out all the stops for us.”

Jonathan and Roger Seed

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Challenger & Topcon

Tough at the top

Arable farming in the generally softer climate of southern England isn’t always an easier prospect. Make your way to the top of the Ridgeway as it passes through Wiltshire, and you come to an “oasis” 850 feet above sea level which is not unlike the Scottish Borders when it comes to harvesting times.

Go a few miles in any direction and harvesting will usually be ten days earlier than it is around the summit of the ancient trackway which stretches across Berkshire and runs all the way to the Chilterns. 

Add to that the steep, 1-in-4 slopes, and chalk flints that cut tyres to ribbons, and you have a farming environment that was meant to be worked by the mighty tracked Challenger. Build RTK Topcon auto-steering into the tractor package and you have a better chance of mastering this attractive and yet sometimes hostile landscape.

The family business of RN and M Lawton, which is based at North Farm, near the village of Aldbourne, tends a total of 3,600 acres, some two thirds of which is contract farmed in partnership with the owners. The man who manages the arable side of a mixed farming business is Christopher Grassam, while Jamie Lawton is responsible for the 250-cow dairy herd.

The arable side of the business grows a variety of crops - wheat, barley, oats, winter oil seed rape (all of the winter variety), plus spring barley, spring beans, linseed and forage crops for the livestock. The land is a mixed bag of fairly productive chalk with clay cap which can be so if you get crops in on time.

“The windows of opportunity for our critical operations are much shorter,” says Christopher. “There are more time pressures here than is generally the case in the south of England.

“It is very common for us to be harvesting wheat or linseed while also drilling the following crops of winter wheat and barley. It is not unheard of for crops to be in the ground here for 12 months. We never take things for granted because you always know the weather could close in on you and then you are in trouble.”

The critical need to make rapid headway while you can and to cover a lot of ground quickly makes good sense of the Challenger. The farm recognised the benefits of tracks over tyres long ago with a steel-tracked Track Marshall having done the hard work since the 1950s. Today, the business has just taken delivery of a Challenger 765D as a successor to previous models which it bought in 2004 and 2007. Lister Wilder has also supplied a Fendt 933 which does most of the drilling when the weather is right. 

“The Challenger transformed the way we were able to run the farm and the output from one man quite literally doubled, not just because the horse power increased but because it could be efficiently converted into traction and thus cover the ground and do the work,” says Christopher.

The tracks also mean substantial savings in what would otherwise be a costly bill for tyres and, most importantly, eliminate time consuming punctures.

On the hardware front, the farms uses a Gregoire-Besson Discordon tine and disc combination cultivator plus a fully mounted Kverneland plough. Around 25% of the overall land holding is ploughed each year as part of a policy to help control black grass. The Challenger also works with a Rabe six-metre tined cultivator and a Simba five-leg sub-soiler. All have auto-reset to avoid breakages when they hit Sarsen stones.

For Christopher, the impressive Challenger got a whole lot better in 2011 when Lister Wilder’s precision farming specialist Mark Horlick guided him through the switch to a Topcon RTK system for auto-steering.

“For me, there could be no half-way house,” he says. “It had to be100% accurate or we wouldn’t have it. Lister Wilder did us a great service in setting up a (grant-aided) base station in conjunction with five other farmers. I am still in awe of what it is capable of doing on steep land and how much it is saving us on cultivations.”

A reduction in driver fatigue is very important as is the ability to work in small lands greatly reducing track wear and soil-damaging tight turns. 

“Particularly with working in adverse conditions or at night, the steering system and the programmable features on the Challenger and on the Fendt have revolutionised the job,” says Christopher.

“The system is great but the back-up that Lister Wilder provided through Mark is excellent. It’s the same with the Challenger itself. If you have a problem at 8 in the evening, they ask if you would like to see someone tonight.”

RN and M Lawton

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Challenger & Topcon

Building on a Family Tradition

… RoGator is the future

In his wildest dreams, Richard Hartley would have had no idea when he started farming in the Cotswolds in the 1880s that one day his descendants would be working the land using machinery that steered itself.

With gasoline tractors at that time still around 30 years away, the idea of a monster spraying machine like the Challenger RoGator 645 working its way around his fields at Shipton-under-Wychwood with only a light touch from the driver would have been unthinkable.

He would not, however, have been unfamiliar with the continuing issues that go with arable farming in a part of the country where the geology that is so attractive to tourists poses headaches when growing crops. The Cotswold brash soil has a high stone content and is lacking in depth and nutrients.

Making the most of it on today’s much larger farms necessitates using the best available machinery and latest technology like Topcon RTK auto-steering, enabling you to cover a lot of ground quickly and effectively.

Richard handed over the business to his son (also Richard) who also took on Manor Farm at nearby Upper Milton in 1916. Today, the family business of Richard Hartley Ltd is run by the great grandson and great great grandson of its founder. And (you guessed) they are both Richard! Manor Farm now totals 1,350 acres but the business also operates a joint venture on neighbouring land covering a further 1,000 acres.

It is that joint venture (Manor Farms LLP) which makes it possible to invest in machinery like the self-propelled RoGator 600 series. The option they chose has a 7.4 litre, six-cylinder engine capable of delivering 224hp. It also has a 5,000 tank, though a 3,800 litre version is another option. Other RoGator features include variable track width and height, and it has won an international award for the air quality achieved in the cab.

Acquired in September 2013, it was replacing another self-propelled sprayer which had performed well but had its limitations following the Hartleys’ decision to switch from granular to liquid fertiliser. 

“While the sprayer was capable, it had its limitations when it came to liquid fertiliser,” says Richard junior. “We felt we needed more pump capacity to apply high doses and we also wanted to make the whole procedure of filling more efficient. If you have to take the pump out to the field, there are a lot of issues but if you have a high-capacity pump on the sprayer that you can fill quickly, it cuts down on work.

“We haven’t yet used it on fertiliser but for spraying it’s been great with no major niggles and Lister Wilder have looked after us well. A lot is down to getting the settings how you want them and making fine adjustments. We were familiar with auto-steering but the Topcon screen was new to us and we have joined Swinbrook farms’ RTK mast to get the best available signal.”

The business grow barley, winter wheat, oil seed rape, and winter beans - plus 22 acres of the energy resource crop miscanthus on small fields that are not suitable for arable crops. They opt for single cultivation and drilling using a Kverneland CTC cultivator and six-metre Horsch for drilling. Their approach involves minimum tillage with occasional ploughing to get muck into the needy ground. Having a pig unit helps the cause. 

The huge challenge presented by the weather made the last growing season a bad one but the business is now looking forward with confidence – and the RoGator is new kit that should make a difference in the battle to make the best of the Cotswold brash.

Richard Hartley

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Challenger & Väderstad

What a Team

For contract farming brothers Trevor and Mike Cooper there is no combination quite like a Challenger tracked tractor with a Vaderstad TopDown cultivator in tow when it comes to delivering large areas of well-prepared ground.

 

It also means that they can get the best from steep, heavy and stoney land along the Lambourn valley in Berkshire where other combinations struggle to cope. The pair currently care for a total of 1,500 acres on farms at East Garston and Chaddleworth, with surplus contracting elsewhere adding a further 1,000 acres to their remit. The vital role played for them by their current Challenger 765 and five-metre TopDown with Bio Drill established 1,500 acres of oil seed rape last year. 

The relationship with Challengers goes back some 12 years when they recognised that they were struggling to get greater output than was possible from two four-metre drills running with wheeled tractors on steep ground.

“We felt we could achieve more from one big tractor and one big drill so we made the decision to switch to the flat track with an eight-metre Horsch drill,” says Trevor. “The banks are fairly steep and the slippage on our wheeled tractors was running at around 20%, whereas on the Challengers it’s more like 3%.”

Mike adds: “However big the wheeled tractors were, we just couldn’t get the power to the floor. We tried an artic as well and that didn’t really help but as soon as we went to tracks it transformed the whole process. We initially thought we could pull it with a 270hp wheeled tractor, but when we tried the drill empty we realised we were going to struggle.” 

The first Challenger sourced by Lister Wilder was an important stepping stone and a big decision financially,” says Mike. “We agonised over it for several days before making that quantum leap but it was the best thing we have ever done and we haven’t looked back. We are now firm believers in tracks on steep and difficult land.”

Trevor adds: “Above 300hp I don’t believe you can get the power to the floor unless you are on level ground, so these tractors really come into their own. Even with bigger and better combinations of tyres these days, they are still not able to climb the hills and pull the size of the machines that we need.” 

Using existing satellite-guided auto steering equipment is another important boost when it comes to the accuracy of the one-pass system they now employ with the TopDown. “You don’t have any overlap and it’s much easier to measure out the seed for a given area,” says Mike. “But it is also invaluable when it comes to doing a professional job on land that you are aren’t so familiar with – especially in the dark. And if you are working long hours, the driver fatigue is a great deal less.”

Trevor and Mike also look back with satisfaction on their decision to have tungsten points fitted to the Vaderstad’s legs. “The ground is very abrasive with lots of flints, so the points achieve a huge acreage where previously we spent a lot of down time changing points on the cultivator legs,” says Trevor.

Mike adds: “The lack of wear also means that you are operating the machine at a constant depth because the points aren’t wearing. When we bought the TopDown we were looking for something to go shallower, but to move the whole of the ground.

“The discs chop the trash in the front and then it’s mixed and firmed back down again. We don’t always want to go too deep but we do have the ability to put it in deep when we are sowing rape. Our previous machine had less legs in a given width and also had wings, and as a consequence we were bringing up far more clods that we didn’t want. Given that we are establishing rape in a single pass, that machine wouldn’t work for us now.”

The pair believe the Vaderstad saves around five days on establishing oil seed rape on heavy ground and, while its points wear slowly, so too do the tracks on the Challenger when compared with tyred alternatives. On the flinty ground, a set of tyres would typically last two seasons with regular punctures along the way causing costly downtime. The Challenger’s tracks roll on relentlessly for more like four seasons.

They are also very happy with the service they get from Lister Wilder on the Challenger/Vaderstad combination. “It’s been second to none,” says Trevor. “They are a big and very busy company nowadays but they are always with us in a very short time.”

Trevor and Mike Cooper

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Caterpillar

Keeping the Cattle Fed

. . . 365 day-a-year reliability from Cat telehandler

When it comes to the machinery that operates at the heart of his busy dairy farm, Neil Dyson would be the first to admit that he is a user rather than an enthusiast. The precise specification of the Caterpillar telehandler that does much of the work around the farm doesn’t bother him too much - as long as it keeps his 700 head of cattle fed and comfortable.

It is a role that has become all the more important since Holly Green Farm at Bledlow in Buckinghamshire switched to a three times-a-day milking routine that has brought with it even greater demands on the Cat’s 365-day-a-year role. 

Neil runs the 520-acre farm with his wife, Jane, and a team that has increased to six full-timers and four part-timers working shifts to cope with milking at 4am, 12 noon and 7pm. They also farm a further 250 acres on short-term agreements. The farm has been in Jane’s family for four generations and operates as A J Walker (Farm) Ltd. 

“We made the decision to go to three times daily because the milk-to-feed price ratio now makes it viable,” says Neil. “It has allowed us to increase our output by about 10% without further investment in buildings and stock. It works for the cows and means that the full-time staff have a slightly shorter day.”

He adds: “The machinery is there to meet the needs of the cows and that is really as far as my interest goes. You can’t be a dairy farmer and love machines – you love your cows and they need a lot more TLC. 

“Our approach is that we don’t invest in machinery and do not own it if we can help it. I rely on other people to bring in their expertise with machines. That is why we work with Lister Wilder. It is their responsibility to be proactive and to make sure it is always serviced and operational. It is an arrangement that works well for us.”

The farm is just starting its third 4,000-hour agreement on the telehandler with a Caterpillar TH407C with a 125-hp engine, air conditioning, boom suspension, air seat for driver comfort and pick-up hitch for moving trailers. Its manoeuvrability is particularly important given its essential role in clearing out sheds.

The great virtue of the Cat telehandler is that you can do a wide range of jobs with one machine, so the work rate for the money invested is high. Its six-speed variable transmission means that no job is too big and, with high ground clearance, permanent four-wheel drive and limited slip differential, it keeps moving in even the worst of conditions.

At the end of the day, Neil judges the success of the Cat on one vital achievement. “Over the two years in which we have had the current model, it has never stopped me from feeding and bedding my cattle,” he says. “We have used it 365 days-a-year and it has never been out of action.”

Neil Dyson

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Merlo

Meet Mr Versatility

Most football teams have one or two truly versatile players who can occupy just about any position. On a dairy farm, the same is now often true of the Merlo tele-handler which has increasingly become the driving force behind a typical day’s work.

 

Down in the dairying country that runs alongside the Severn estuary in Gloucestershire, Graham and Robert Hook are working with their third Merlo 32.6 and are under no illusion about the vital role that it occupies in their various routines. The pair are the third generation in the family business of A H Hook & Sons that has farmed at Tortworth near Thornbury for many years.

While liking to keep things as simple as possible, the brothers have come to recognise that the newer kit in the shape of a tele-handler has much to offer in managing their herd of 220 cows and 200 followers while also contributing to their small arable business. The Merlo was originally identified as the preferred candidate several years ago by a buying group which appreciated the value and the versatility of the different models available.

Graham is now on his third 32.6, which has a maximum load of 3200kg, lift height of 6.4m and a forward reach of 3400m. The direct-injection water cooled, four-cylinder Perkins Euro3 turbocharge diesel engine produces 101hp at 2,300rpm.

Graham’s rationale was, however, more to do with its go-anywhere capabilities. “We have some quite small, traditional and low buildings and the Merlo gets in there well,” he says.

“While that was the main reason for buying it, we have since come to appreciate how easy they are to use and how reliable.

He adds: “The Merlo is so much more versatile than a tractor and loader because of its height and reach. That is really important now given that feeder waggons are becoming increasingly higher. You would need a very big tractor to do the same job.

“It’s also very easy to use given the hydrostatic transmission, and that means it can be used by a variety of people. You can’t really go wrong.

“We plan our day around its availability because we need it all the time and use it a lot more than the tractors.” The day typically starts with feeding the cattle at 7.30am, followed by moving bales for bedding, and unloading lorries. It also has an important role in loading up ready for muck spreading; and on the day we visited it was needed for moving corn.

Back-up for the Merlo comes from Lister Wilder’s depot which is just a few miles away at Thornbury. Graham says they haven’t had to call on the workshops to any great extent but the security of knowing there is a rapid service on hand is important given the central role played by the Merlo.

On this farm as on so many others in this part of the country, the big issue remains that of cross-contamination of TB from badgers and deer to cattle. “It has been an issue all my farming life and it is frustrating that the vaccine that was predicted when I first started still isn’t available,” says Graham.

Splitting up the farm and marketing at the right time are key for a business that also has to cope with being physically split into four by the M5 carving through its middle. Despite the challenges posed by the weather wiping out their arable and fodder crops over the past year, Graham remains positive about farming life.

“It’s still a good life because you are your own boss and are doing something you enjoy in a job that is never the same two days running,” he says. “If the time comes that you calve a cow and the spark isn’t there (even at 3 in the morning) then you know it’s time to retire.”

Graham and Robert Hook

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Massey Ferguson

A Great Combination

Having the right machinery for the job in hand is key to the success and profitability of any farming business and Hampshire farmer, Steve Berry is confident that he is onto a winner facing new energy challenges with a Massey Ferguson Beta 7370 combine harvester.

 

Steve started his farming business in 1988 and now contract farms 1,100 acres of arable and 200 acres of grassland on the Herriard Estate near Alton and other land nearby. He grows wheat, rape, maize, rye grass, spring beans and Canadian red wheat. He also runs his own agricultural machinery importing business, Samagri Ltd, and provides cultivating, drilling and slurry tanker contracting services to other farms within a 30-mile radius. 

Steve has used Massey Ferguson machinery for many years. When a new opportunity arose to evolve his farming business with the installation of an anaerobic digester on the Herriard Estate, he turned to his long-term supplier, Lister Wilder, for the right combine to suit his changing needs.

“The anaerobic digester works on two-thirds food waste and one-third maize and grass and in order to maximise our opportunity to supply feed for the plant, we decided to change our cropping to more maize and rye grass,” explains Steve. “We had been struggling with transporting our old MF 7282 Centora between the two farms, particularly since the council has installed traffic calming devices in a number of places. The time was right to down-size our combine and to take advantage of the new features and fuel economy of the latest models.”

Steve took delivery of the MF Beta 7370 with the Freeflow header table earlier this year and was delighted with its performance at harvest time. 

“We were very pleased to find that we achieved the same output with the smaller machine as our old one, but for me the most remarkable thing was its reliability,” says Steve. “We didn’t lose any time during harvest, cutting 1,100 acres in 96 hours without a single stoppage or major issue, which is great performance, especially for a new machine.”

Steve leaves his 21-year-old son, Sam to comment on the operability and features of the 7370. “Sam does all the driving and has done since he was 14. He was born to it, I guess,” explains Steve.

“The cab is much more comfortable and a lot quieter, and the visibility is great,” says Sam. “I particularly like the pre-crop feed roller in the front elevator, and the Freeflow header works really well for us,” he adds.

With a constant eye on profitability, Steve is pleased to report that his fuel bill has more than halved with the 7370 compared to his older model. “We have reduced fuel consumption from 10 litres an acre to 4.5 litres, which makes a real difference to our bottom line,” he says.

“The narrower transport width - the 7370 is 3.8m wide while our Centora was 4.25m – has made getting around a lot simpler,” says Steve,” and another noticeable benefit is that on-farm maintenance is much easier.” 

Steve has been a loyal customer of Lister Wilder since he started his farming business. “I know and trust these guys and have every confidence in their knowledge and excellent back-up service. I used to work with them myself back in the 80s and I have known some of them for years,” he explains. “They understand my business, which really helps.”

Steve also has two Fendt 828 tractors, a Cat TH406 Handler and a variety of implements on the farm supplied by Lister Wilder. 

His farming methods are going through quite a change with the arrival of the anaerobic digester on the scene. “We are not only changing our cropping to feed the plant but will be using the digestate that comes out of it as fertiliser,” says Steve. “We aim to be self-sufficient in terms of nutrients by 2015, so we won’t then have the expense of buying in manufactured fertiliser at that point.

“We had been struggling for profitable break crops on our ground here and we had grown so much rape in our rotation over the years that our yields of rape were going down. We saw the opportunity with the maize and the grass. That will hopefully give us a profitable break crop that we can plant in the spring which should also help us with our black grass problem.”

“This whole process is so new that we are learning as we go along,” says Steve. “We have an advantage over most of the farmers starting to work with digesters in that we have visited a number of plants with our slurry tanker service and have picked up a lot from talking to other people about their experiences.”

Steve’s son, Sam is following closely in his father’s footsteps. “There was never any question of him not coming into the business, at least in his mind,” laughs Steve. “But I have to say he really knows his stuff and he is an excellent tractor and combine operator. He has just as varied a working life as I do as he gets involved with everything we do from driving the combine to manning our stand at trade shows.” 

“He quickly gets to grips with the new technology too and we are in the process of implementing yield mapping on the combine which we hope will prove its worth in the future. We would like to be using RTK but the mobile phone signal around here is dreadful so it isn’t possible at the moment.”

Steve is looking forward to reaping the benefits of being something of a pioneer and is ready to face new challenges as they come along. “I am confident that we have exactly what we need in terms of machinery to make the most of this opportunity to evolve our business,” he concludes.

Steve Berry

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Fendt

The Sums add up to Fendt

With 46 years of tractor driving now under his belt, Alan Pearce admits that he wasn’t keen on the prospect of auto-steering when it was first retrofitted to the Fendt he operates for A4 Farmers across a wide swathe of Wiltshire. Four years later, he wouldn’t be without it.

 

As one of the partners in the business, Rob Pickford, is equally impressed by the benefits the system has brought and by its latest guidance mechanism in the shape of an RTK mast in which he is a shareholder. Rob’s evaluation is, however, based not just on practicalities but on spreadsheets which tell him that, with Fendt providing the power, the system is clearly benefitting his bottom line.

Rob’s Upper Farm at Cherhill, near Calne is paired with Robert Cooper’s East Farm at nearby Winterbourne Monkton in the joint venture partnership that created A4 Farmers in 2005. While all the labour and machinery from the two mixed farms was pooled, each retains its own dairy herds. A4 is employed to provide all the muck, straw and forage services plus relief labour to the two dairies and to do all the arable work on a “stubble to stubble” block cropping basis.

For efficiency and soil conservation, the business establishes almost all its crops using non-inversion tillage to the optimum depth required, carrying out sub-soiling only when necessary. In adopting GPS technology, the business zoned all its arable land five years ago by soil type and field history. As a result, it has halved base fertiliser bills on those areas. Last year, it also used zoning for variable nitrogen and growth regulator applications. 

The big challenge is to optimise yields, lower production costs and increase biodiversity. It is that process which drives Rob’s hard-nosed preference for Fendt as the core of the tractor fleet. His meticulous evaluation shows the true cost for each hour of operation, factoring in not just the purchase, warranty and auto-steer but also the repairs and maintenance, insurance and of course fuel. 

Having evaluated the Fendt 724 against two comparable tractors, his calculations show that the high purchase cost is offset by a significantly higher residual value and by greater fuel economy. Auto steer has proved a big bonus for drilling and spraying with clear benefits in terms of reduced time, seed, fertiliser and chemicals. While RTK provides the precision needed for drilling and spraying, cultivating is still on Egnos which Rob says is sufficiently precise at around six inches. 

Says Rob: “I think it is important to have that accuracy of auto-steering for the drilling because that then puts your tramlines in the right place and then your sprayer (now increased from 24 to 30 metres) is doing exactly the width it is meant to do. With the accuracy, and the sprayer having the capacity to turn itself on and off, it never overlaps.”

An equal dose of enthusiasm comes from foreman Nick Stevens on a Fendt 820, Alan Pearce on the Fendt 724 and Chris Hayward with a Fendt 716. The business also runs a Fendt 818, a Massey Ferguson 7480 and a Merlo 40.7 tele-handler. Other equipment from Lister Wilder includes Stewart trailers and an Amazone Ultra fertilizer spreader. The newer equipment is on Lister Wilder’s management scheme on a five year / 6,000 hours basis.

“The Fendt’s are easy and economic even though they come with a full spec,” says Nick. “The fact that you have programmable steps on drilling makes life easy. You push one button to put markers down, put the drill down, and bring auto steer into play. And the fact that it is on RTK means you can constantly keep an eye on your drill. Auto steering gives us a definite boost on the ground we can cover and it’s less stressful, especially when you are trying to stay on course on soft ground.”

It has made a big difference to veteran driver Alan. “I wasn’t keen to have it because I’m not computer orientated but I wouldn’t be without it now,” he says. “We can also easily get a student set up to use it.” 

Such is the general enthusiasm for available technology that Nick has even set up a camera inside Alan’s seed drill so that he knows when it needs re-filling. The view is set up to appear in a quarter of the large Fendt screen in the 724. Being able to view into seed hopper is particularly beneficial when drilling small seeds like oil seed rape which are often below the low level sensor in the hopper when you start work.

Rob’s verdict on Fendt is simple. “I think it is the most efficient tractor in the drive to save fuel, do more in a day and reduce stress for the driver.”

So will Fendt survive here in the next generation? Things are looking positive because Rob’s 12-year-old son, Barnabas is so enthusiastic about them that he’s done a presentation on them at school and teachers have been out to take photos.

A4 Farmers

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Massey Ferguson

Changing Face of a Farm

In today’s highly competitive market, many farmers have had to change their traditional approach in order to stay profitable. They diversify to make best use of their resources and to spread risk, and are also taking great care to ensure that any major investment, such as new machinery, has clear benefits. 

Take Crick Ellis, who farms near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, for example. Crick and his brother, John, have developed the farm their grandfather took over back in the 1930s into a group of diverse businesses including a mix of arable and livestock farming, a farm shop and café, rented cottages in a converted milking parlour and a DIY livery yard. John now manages the farm shop and Crick runs the farm, relying on a small but effective fleet of machines - and on Lister Wilder to service them.

“The farm has been run by the family since my grandfather’s day and my nephew, Edward, is now the fourth generation of the Ellis family to work this land,” says Crick. “He went off to college and came back to join us with his spraying ticket and now does all our spraying, fertilising and drilling using our Massey Ferguson 6480.”

Crick also runs a Massey Ferguson 7274 Cerea combine harvester which has just completed its second season on the farm. “We had an MF7272 before which did us well, but we have really noticed the benefit of the auto level which handles the banks in our fields really well,” says Crick. “We also like the greater capacity it offers due to its larger header and increased horsepower.”

The farm’s main draught tractor is a Massey Ferguson 6499 which has really impressed Crick and Edward in all seasons. “With the pulling strength of the 6499 and the unusually favourable weather conditions, we were able to cultivate with a seven-furrow plough as late as mid-December, which was a real bonus,” explains Edward.

“We farm 850 acres of arable, 300 acres of our own plus a mix of renting, share farming and contracting and we have beef and sheep,” he continues. “We have a suckler herd of 30 cows with followers and 180 breeding ewes and grow all their winter feed on the farm.”

All the lamb and 70% of the beef produced on the farm is sold through the farm shop. “We sell our meat to the shop at market prices, but the set-up here means that the family is able to realise the full value of our animals,” says Crick.

The farm shop, which includes a large café, a butchery and a bakery, sells a wide range of locally-produced fruit, seasonal vegetables, eggs, meat and preserves. 

“This all began with me selling asparagus grown on the farm from my kitchen door,” explains Crick’s wife, Maggie. “We then started selling our meat at local farmers’ markets and had such positive feedback from our customers that we decided to set up the farm shop. It has gone from strength to strength ever since and really complements the farm business,” she adds.

Crick likes to keep native breeds such as Herefords on the farm and hopes to improve his basic stock further with the recent addition of an Aberdeen Angus bull. “He looks good and is throwing some nice calves,” says Crick. “Both Hereford and Aberdeen Angus are breeds that are known to the general public for their quality meat, which helps sales in the farm shop.” 

Another essential piece of machinery on the farm is the Merlo handler supplied by Lister Wilder. It is used daily for everything from feeding cattle to loading grain. “If the Merlo stops, the farm stops,” explains Crick.

It’s not all about the bottom line though. Crick is passionate about wildlife conservation and holds a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement, planting areas of the farm with wildflowers to provide nectar for pollinating insects.

The farm may see more changes in the future to maximise profitability. “We may go down the route of adding some of the new technological features to our tractors and combine to improve performance and yields,” says Crick, “or we may decide to stop producing milling wheat and move over to feed wheat. 

“We currently produce 150 acres of class 1 milling wheat, which should earn a premium of £15 - £25 for its quality. Last year, the premium fell to just £8, which is really not viable for us. Milling wheat costs us more to grow and has a lower yield than standard wheat,” he explains.

“The weather has been a big issue for the farm in recent years. Last year’s autumn crop failed due to the weather and had to be re-drilled in spring and the market was flooded with oats, so the price fell dramatically,” says Crick. 

Edward adds: “The farm shop and café help spread the costs but they tend to be affected by bad weather the same as the farm is. The weather is something we can’t control, but at least we know that our machinery will cope with it all.” 

Crick is optimistic for the 2014 harvest though. “The mild weather in December gave our crop an excellent start,” he says.” We might even have another go at growing peas this year,” he laughs.

Crick Ellis

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Massey Ferguson

Going the Organic Route . . . and managing your costs

Maintaining the viability of a small dairy farm in an age where sheer scale is so often seen as the way forward is no easy prospect. When, seven years ago, Will Grey made the decision to make his future alongside his parents Tom and Sue in the family farm, he recognised the particular need to manage costs very carefully.

It was that approach, plus a bad experience with previous machinery, that led them to opt for a management plan with Lister Wilder which gave certainty over the outgoings on their vital main loader tractor, a Massey Ferguson 5455. After 18 months, they remain happy that it was indeed the right route.

Choosing the management plan was part of a wider strategy that has seen Will, Tom and Sue carve out a distinct niche for their 350-acre West Street farm at Tytherington close to the Severn estuary in Gloucestershire. With around 130 cattle and a similar number of followers, they decided to go the organic route for their herd.

The farm grows organic maize plus some oats and barley purely to feed its herd. Depending on stock and forage levels, some of the grain is then crimped – the organic route to preserve feed grain into fodder through fermentation. 

It was, Will says, a direction which his Dad had his doubts about when they first talked about him coming back to the farm after five years in management with a large food company. “When I first told Dad that organic was what I wanted to do, he said we would have to reduce the number of cows. But we have actually increased the herd since then.

“We are a fairly small family business so I felt that niching ourselves was a better way of making sure we remain profitable into the future rather than trying to compete on a commodity basis – we just don’t have the scale for that. More and more dairies will either grow big and get really good at controlling your costs or find a niche with their own produce. The niche could be cheese or ice cream but we just sell milk off the farm.”

He adds: “Going organic has increased profitability and there are obviously some aspects that are easier. Growing crops and then harvesting them with a bit of harrowing along the way is easy - you don’t have to keep spraying and fertilising. Output is inevitably down, though not as much as we thought.”

The Massey Ferguson 5455 is the farm’s loader tractor and is used primarily to feed the cows, with additional summertime roles such as hauling silage trailers and the slurry tanker. Given its vital daily role feeding the cattle and the need to control costs, the Lister Wilder management package was a sensible route.

“We had a few problems with previous machines that cost us a lot of money on repairs,” says Will. “I simply wanted to know what it was going to cost me for five years and with the package offered by Lister Wilder I know what that will be. If you have got something quantifiable you can budget and plan for it. 

“It’s a great tractor for my needs and I have had only very minor issues but Lister Wilder have been very good and it’s reassuring to know that their local depot (at Thornbury) is right on my doorstep. We feed our cows at 6 in the evening and when we had a small problem with a fuse they were here within ten minutes.”

Will appreciates the added power he gets from the turbo facility on the 5455 and the fact that a dual oil switch delivers oil from the back axle to give a fast loader response. He also admires the Dyna 4 transmission with its four powershift steps in four gears which provide 16 forward and 16 reverse speeds and completely clutchless operation.

 The route is now 
set for West Street Farm, and Tom is confident it is the right one. “Having worked in the food industry, I could see what was happening. Some dairy farms were going big scale beef with hundreds and hundreds of animals. But there is still a market for small farms in premium and niche. You just have to find the right one.”

Tom Grey

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Sales and parts support remain as strong as ever at the Reading branch but now customers can draw on 14 service engineers via Andrew Penney . . . the back-up has never been better.

It was almost May and all the pedigree Holsteins still under cover should in a normal year have been out on sweet grass weeks ago at Park Farm in the beautiful rolling countryside south of Basingstoke.

Up on the hillside that overlooks the main farm buildings, the maize that will feed the cows through the next winter was only just about to go into ground which remained cold beneath the first few inches. And yet you couldn’t suppress the eternal optimism of brothers Bob and Joe Ives – everything will be alright because it always is … in the end.

Meanwhile, beside the M4 near Maidenhead in Berkshire, Herbfresh farm manager Hugh Bulloch looks out ruefully over a field that is far from ready for the variety of herb crops that need to be sown to meet contracts with major supermarkets. "We had no choice but to harvest in bad weather last autumn when we shouldn’t have been on the land," he says. "Now, we are paying the price."

Like the Ives family’s farm, Herbfresh is an important agricultural customer for Lister Wilder’s Reading branch which serves a wide swathe of territory stretching across much of Berkshire, north Hampshire and Surrey. In pressured times, these like all other customers need to know they will get the support they need to keep the wheels turning productively.

The tractors in the front line for Bill and Joe Ives include a 180hp Fendt 8180 plus three Massey Fergusons – a 230hp 7499, 230hp 6499 and a 160hp 6480. Even the run-around feed and muck-shifting tractors are older Massey Fergusons (from the 300 range), which they like because they are reliable and retain their value.

Bob and Joe’s father and mother started the dairy farming business that still trades as W & P Ives in 1958. Father Bill had no farming experience – he was evacuated from London during the war and simply liked the look of agriculture. Today, Park Farm is spread over four units and covers a total of 1,000 acres, running 330 plus cattle, plus young stock. They grow mainly maize but also some oats and barley, all of it for feed.

The pedigree Holsteins are high yielders with an average of 11,000 litres per cow adding up to approaching 3.5 million litres a year.

The farm has been a Lister Wilder customer since the 1980s. "What’s important to us is being able to speak to someone you know who also knows what they are talking about," says Bob. "It’s very different to speaking to a call centre which routes you to someone else who has no idea about your tractor. When the Lister Wilder engineers come out, they really know the machinery.

"You can go on courses to get product knowledge but there is nothing to beat experience. Lister Wilder has people who have been doing what they do a long time. There is a lot of specialised knowledge at our disposal – that is worth a lot."

It came good in recent weeks when smoke appeared from the back of the cab on one of the Massey Fergusons. "I phoned Andrew Penney (service manager based at Wallingford) who diagnosed the problem," says Bob. "I then established that it was down to one solenoid and isolated it so that the tractor could carry on working, but he still had an engineer to us within two to three hours with the part I needed, which they had in stock."

Reliability is also key. The Massey Ferguson 6480 has clocked up more than 6,000 hours to date. Once a front line tractor, it is now doing sterling service as a feed wagon.

Over at Herbfresh, the name of the game is intensive cropping for one of the big companies in herbs and other fresh vegetable produce. It was set up just 10 years ago by John Emmett, who had been growing fresh produce for many years and saw the potential as celebrity chefs raised consciousness. The business has grown swiftly and supplies around £7 million worth of crops to big name supermarkets as well as to catering companies and restaurants. In peak harvesting periods it employs around 130 people at the farm.

The company grows its high quality produce over seven sites spread over a 25-mile area between Marlow and Cobham in Surrey. The 600 acres effectively becomes 1,000 acres by virtue of multi-cropping of some produce through the year. Empty ground is not an option.

"Our needs are the same as any other farm in terms of cultivation and drilling, though some of the kit may be a bit more specialised," says Farm Manager Hugh Bulloch. "In a typical year, irrigation is obviously a big thing for a business growing short-term shallow rooted crops."

Raised six-metre wide beds are used in order to define rows and reduce compacting from tractor wheels. The fact that the crops are elevated also helps them during wet weather and makes them easier to harvest.

On the equipment front, Herbfresh uses a bed former for its six-metre wide beds and pairs that with a Kverneland Accord pneumatic precision seed drill supplied by Lister Wilder. It pops seeds into precise spacings that can be set at anything between 0.9 and 43.4 cm.

In recent weeks, Hugh has taken delivery of a Fendt to do the critical work of cultivating and bed forming. Based on its current level of activity, it will put in no fewer than 2,000 hours in its first year - around three times what might be expected on a another farm.

"We had been thinking about investing in a Fendt for a long time and talked to other people who have them," says Hugh."It is too soon to give a verdict on it yet but we like its reputation for reliability and also its life expectancy and the fact that they hold their value."

One of the attractions of the Fendt was its satellite-guided capability which means that rows can be formed perfectly straight to maximise the productive capacity.

The business also has several Massey Fergusons, including the 170 hp 6480 used for the drill, two 100 hp 5445s for trailer work and some older 6100 series. All move as necessary between different sites.

"The machinery is obviously essential and I can’t fault the back-up service and parts service that we get for it from Lister Wilder at Reading," says Hugh. "It will all be working hard for us this spring because there is a lot of catching up to do after a long winter."

Herbfresh & Bob &Joe Ives

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Mark Goddard - Mark Goddard and Son

I was really pleased with the build quality of the Snow-Ex and the ability to spread wet material which has resulted in zero blockages, this has increased my productivity levels on my 15 NHS contracts and has reduced the time on site by half.

I now have more time to tender for new contracts and explore new opportunities.

Mark Goddard - Mark Goddard and Son

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MF Activa 7244
Bob Allen and his son Paul are beef and arable farmers with 500 acres, growing winter wheat and winter and spring barley. They have been running MF combines for over 40 years and bought a new Activa 7244 in 2010. 
Paul commented “We like MF combines because they are very reliable. When we came to replace the old MF32 we chose the Activa because of its simplicity- .it doesn’t have too many complicated electronics to go wrong and it is a good choice for a small farm.”
“Before we bought it we spoke to someone else who had one who recommended it. It’s no good us having a large combine because it is just too big and the rows of straw are too wide for our baler, we prefer smaller bales. It also leaves the straw in good condition.”
“This model is made in Italy, a new factory for Massey, and to us which we thought was a gamble (as our previous combine was made in Denmark) but it has been fine and we have had two trouble free seasons to date. It has a larger horsepower engine than our old combine but it isn’t extravagant on fuel. The Activa is easy to drive, it’s quicker and the table height is automatic. It’s very simple to set up and gives a good sample and the sieves are manual which avoids potential problems with electronics.”
Although we are small we like to own our own combine harvester as it gives us the ability to cut when we want rather than being reliant on a contractor. We’ve had two very wet years and have had to snatch the harvest when we can as we have limited drying facilities and we wouldn’t want to have to wait on a contractor.”

Bob Allen has dealt with the company now trading asLister Wilder since the late 1950s. Bob commented “We are very happy with the parts and service that Lister Wilder provides. Steve Bone has been our service engineer for years and if there is ever a problem we have someone to talk directly to. Listers also sorted out a metal roof for us on the grain tank on this new model rather than the standard canvas one, which we are very pleased with.”

Bob & Paul Allen, Uptown Farm, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

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MF Centora 7282
Jeremy Iles is a livestock and arable farmer with 1800 acres he jointly farms with his neighbour James Hart in Gloucestershire and grows wheat, barley and oil seed rape. He has been running MF combines since 2001 and had a new Centora delivered for the 2011 harvest.
Jeremy commented “We have 1800 acres and allow for 25 harvesting days a year and the Centora is the best fit at the right price. We specifically wanted a combine with straw walkers, as we bale all the straw. The output is very good, we consistently get 40 tonnes/hour on wheat and the quality of the straw is also very good. This 8 straw walker machine gives a good compromise between output and straw quality which is important to us.”
Jeremy continued “In terms of revenue, Oil seed rape is our main crop these days but it is a fragile crop that requires careful harvesting. Throughput has been a problem in the past but we have found the Centora with the rape auger is excellent for rape crops. We love the header and the forward speed is very good, with low header seed losses. We don’t get any hold ups with crop blockage. It just keeps on going!”
We chose Massey Ferguson as they are very reliable and the ownership costs are low. We also find the SISU engine is very economic on fuel. We generally use about 450 litres/day for 80-90 acres during harvest. On the Massey tractors we run we have seen a 20% saving in fuel costs since the introduction of the SISU engines.
Jeremy also added “We have a three year warranty on the combine and use Lister Wilder for servicing. They are always very good and responsive and if we need a new part it is delivered by 8am the next day. Also because of the number of depots Lister Wilder has, if we need a part sooner than this we can easily go to the nearest depot that has the part in stock. As well as Bruce Miller, Service Engineers Jim Hooper and Ian Weaver are also very helpful and do all our servicing and warranty checks. We are very happy with both the Centora and the backup service that Lister Wilder provides.”
Jeremy Iles, H&Q Farming, Hatherop, Gloucestershire

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Welger 435 Baler
Phil Hallett is an agricultural contractor based in Elberton near Bristol. Phil works across south Gloucestershire and north Bristol areas.
 
Phil has run a Welger 435 Baler since 2007. “The main reason I purchased the Welger was due to the speed of throughput, reliability and good residual value.   Before purchasing the Welger I looked at both the New Holland and Claas balers as well as the Welger. The Welger was by far the most expensive but it represents good value for money to me as the crop pick up is fantastic, the sheer forward speed is incredible and the bale density is outstanding. On average it produces 800KG bales in silage and 300-350KG bales in straw.”
 
“The forward speed of the baler can reach 12mph in 30ft of grass. Last year I hit my record of producing 101 bales/hour in hay. The most bales in a day I have produced is 900. There is a clock on the baler that records the average bales per hour over the lifetime of the baler and I have averaged 64 bales/hour from following a 30ft combine down to a haybob.”
 
“This baler is good enough to run for 10 years and has a 100,000 bale belt quality. Apart from the odd bearing needing replacing I have had no problems whatsoever and it costs me less than £200/year in parts for maintenance.”
 
“Even though the initial investment is high I would expect to get back nearly 50% of the cost back in resale/trade in value. I have run this baler against other contractors using other machines and left them standing. There is not another baler on the market to touch it!”
Phil Hallett - P E J Hallet Contractors

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Joskin Scariflex
Dallis Andrews of D P Andrews at Hamfield Farm, is an organic beef farmer in Berkley, Gloucestershire.
 
Dallis bought a Joskin Scariflex a year ago to level out the pasture, cut through mole hills and cow dung and scarify the ground.
 
“I looked at the Opico but it didn’t level out the manure. The tines cut through rather than levelling out. The Joskin paddle type is better for levelling out. It is also galvanised, it has a strong build quality and is a very good top end aerator.”
Dallis Andrews, Hamfield Farm

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Kverneland Mower 2632
Dallis Andrews of D P Andrews at Hamfield Farm, is an organic beef farmer in Berkley, Gloucestershire.
 
Dallis bought a Kverneland 2632 Mower 18 months ago to replace a JF mower he was having problems with coping with the density of the crop.
 
During the summer months he uses the mower up to 12 hours a day virtually non-stop.
 
“The KV mower is reliable, strong and good value for money. It cuts well and has a good overlap on the blades. Because if the width it does have a lot of drag on it so I would recommend having Breakback fitted on it which is an optional extra. I have had no problems with it at all, it has been a good reliable machine.”
Dallis Andrews, Hamfield Farm

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Fendt 415
Rob Allen of DG & AH Allen & Son is a dairy farmer in Hill, Gloucestershire and operates a 450 acre dairy farm growing cereal crops, grass and maize. 
 
Rob has run a Fendt 415 for the past 2 ½ years which replaced his previous tractor, a New Holland. Rob commented “The reason I upgraded to the Fendt was because they have a better reputation and the spec on the machine was much better. It has literally got everything. The TMS system is excellent and it definitely saves on fuel.
 
“I have run it for 2 ½ years without any problems and I will likely keep it for 5 years rather than 3. Some people might be put off by the price but the build quality is excellent, the fuel efficiency saves you money and the resale value is also very good. I also bought it on a 0% finance deal from AGCO, which means I can pay for it over 3 years which also saves me money.”
 
“I get the Fendt serviced every 500 hours and get a good backup service from Listers. John at the Elberton branch is very responsive and always comes straight up to the farm to do the service as and when I need one. I am very pleased with both the service and the tractor itself.”
Rob Allen - DG & AH Allen & Son

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Merlo P32.6 Telehandler
Tom Nichols is a farmer based at Michaelwood Lodge Farm in Charfield Gloucestershire. He runs at 400-acre farm with 1000 goats and bought a Merlo 32.6 in September 2010.
 
“ I looked at other makes before buying the Merlo. I liked it because it had good capacity and very good manoeuvrability. It has a relatively low height, which allows me to get in and out of my sheds, which have quite low roofs. It also has a very good reach for the size of the machine and is very stable on the wheelbase. It tows well which means it’s equally at home in the field when bale carting, reducing the need for another tractor..”
 
“The Merlo is a very good all rounder and is the only machine we need around the dairy. It is very competitively priced and it holds its value well. I will run it for 3 years at 1500 hours/year.”
Tom Nichols - Charfield, Glos

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Kverneland Accord Miniair Drill
Herbfresh based in Hersham, Surrey have been dealing with Lister Wilder for 18 months. Martin Macqueen, Area Sales Manager, sold the company a new 36 Row Kverneland Accord Miniair Vegetable Drill for sowing various Herb crops. During the on farm installation, some test plots of Spinach were drilled with the machine to check settings and operation.
 
Herbfresh advised they were extremely pleased with the results of the test and with the spacing, evenness and the emergence of the spinach. Due to the accuracy of the positioning of the seed and the evenness of the sowing depth this should result in a higher crop yield. The expected increase in yield should over time more than pay for the investment in the new drill due to the higher return from the seed.
 
In addition to the Kverneland drill they have ordered two MF5445 tractors for general duties and an MF6480 to replace a John Deere, which will be used to tow the drill.
Herbfresh

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MF6455
John Sprackman of D W Sprackman & Partners, Pound House Farm in Thornbury is a dairy farmer together with his brother, having taken over the family business started by his father in 1946. They milk 200 high yielding cows with 200 followers with 250 acres of arable crops of mainly wheat and maize.
They have been dealing with Lister Wilder for several years but have increased business since Lister Wilder opened their depot in Thornbury four years ago.
John commented “We have recently purchased a Massey Ferguson 6455 c/w loader which is used every day to feed, straw down and scrape up the yards. Because of the power of the tractor it can also be used in summer to help with any field work needed. In addition we have also purchased a 6 metre Joskin Scarflex after having this equipment on demo. We found it to be just the right job for our application.”
John continued “I have found the tractor does everything I ask of it and more. It has a very nice gearbox and transmission, which makes a task easier and more enjoyable. This is the second MF6455 tractor I have had from Lister Wilder and with the new one piece bonnet it make it easier for full servicing and routine checks. I have also taken the extended warranty and servicing on this tractor so that I have fixed costs for the lifetime of the tractor, which helps a lot!
John also added “The location of the depot to my business and the prompt response from the service engineers at Lister Wilders is ideal for me. If I need help or want my tractor service at a certain part of the day the workshop are always very helpful and can fit it in. I also think that the Manager service package is very competitive.”
D W Sprackman & Partners - John Sprackman

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Fendt 930
Daniel Tuckwell of Robert Tuckwell Contractors of Mursley, Buckinghamshire purchased a Fendt 930 in 2010 to replace an existing tractor from a competitor brand.  Daniel Tuckwell commented “We bought the Fendt 930 to run our 9 metre triple mower combination and to power a large square baler – going from 200hp bracket to 300hp”.
 
We have run the Fendt for 2500 hours and what we have been most pleased with is the driver comfort and the fuel efficiency – we have calculated that we are using the same litres/hour but output is up by around 25%. We have also found the support from both Lister Wilder and Fendt to be awesome!
Robert Tuckwell Contractors - Daniel Tuckwell

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Joskin ME11000 Slurry Tanker

“Recently we have purchased A Joskin ME11000 slurry tanker with a 6 mtr multi action trailing shoe, We also thought it would be worth while having a 8” jumbo arm and turbo filler to speed up the operation. Milking over 180 cows and having 250 plus followers we generate a lot of slurry. As we bed the dairy cattle on sawdust we are able to stir and suck up one consistent product so we can apply it on to the ground with the high level accuracy. We therefore have found the Joskin tanker was the machine.

A G Meredith & Partner

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Kverneland Siloking Compact 14

Suppliers and manufacturers of high quality minerals, concentrates and specialist mixed rations to the agricultural industry.
“Owning the KV Siloking has not only helped to achieve a quality diet for our own livestock enterprise, but has enabled us to adapt our business to what our customers want”.
“This is down to the machines ability to constantly produce a high quality palatable diet every time at low cost”.

John & Rachael Britnell - JBF Feeds Ltd.

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CAT TH407

Martin Rockall and Mike Fleming are responsible for the day to day operations on Bradley Farm, Cumnor. The farm, just outside Oxford is run by Brian Bowden. It is 750 acres, in two units and is predominantly arable, but with a livestock enterprise rearing heifers for a large dairy farm nearby. Bradley Farm is also responsible for all the arable operations on that farm.
The Cat TH407 handler was delivered in March 2009 and to date has done 1400 hours and has proven to be very reliable. The machine was bought to replace a different make of similar capacity. Martin and Mike have been impressed with the build quality and overall strength of the machine. They have found the routine maintenance to be easy, with all the access points from fillers to grease nipples easy to get at.
Their initial misgivings over its increase in length over the previous machine have proven to be unfounded as this is more than compensated by the increased turning circle. As Martin said “ we haven`t found a job yet we can`t do with it, even in the older cattle yards” Mike especially likes the smooth gear change. The handler is used a lot for towing loads between farms so an essential requirement. They find the Cat to be very stable in use, especially when stacking big bales to 7.0m high and loading high sided grain lorries with the large bucket.
Brian highly values the opinion of his staff as to the suitability of any machine for the work it has to do on Bradley Farm. Purchasing a Cat handler has been one none of them regret.

Bradley Farm, Cumnor

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Massey Ferguson 6400 Series

We have found the current range of tractors to be very economical compared to the previous brand. The tractors are also very quiet and comfortable over extended periods of use. We are now into our fourth season running Massey Fergusons and have found them very cost effective to change on a regular basis.

James Bell Agricultural Contractors

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Lely Welger RP435

Paul Chambers and Mark Sheddfarm in partnership at Home Farm, Barton Hartshorn nr Buckingham. They run 600 acres, mainly grass with sheep and beef. They also do contract hedge trimming and round baling, baling about 6000 bales of silage, hay and straw a year. They have run a round baler since the mid eighties. Last year they started to look for a replacement for their existing six-year-old belt baler. They wanted something that was reliable and with a good output. Important when baling other peoples crop and essential when clearing straw, especially in a difficult season, when they find people are nervous to leave straw in rows. They had a brief look at a Welger Baler during the summer, which performed sufficiently well for them to request a more serious trial this year. A Welger RP435 Farmer Mastercut was taken out, this was trialled on hay, straw and silage, They were impressed with how easy it was to set up and operate, the quality of the bales, the output and the build quality and an order was placed. This coincided with a drastic change in the weather and conditions changed from being very dry to very wet! A test for any baler. Speaking Paul said they were very pleased with their choice, stating “It coped well with anything we threw at it” Both he and Mark are very happy with their decision. They are now feeding some of the bales and finding their quality excellent. Their recommendation has already helped a neighbour seriously consider changing his current make for a Welger.

Home Farm, Bucks

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Challenger MT765C

Toby Hogsbjerg, Farm Manager of Swinbrook Farms, crops 2,500 acres of winter cereals, winter oilseed rape and spring linseed on predominately Cotswold brash. The business is situated near Burford, Oxfordshire. “The Challenger MT765C plays a key part in our business covering all primary cultivations and drilling. We are already seeing the benefits of the tractor’s first full cultivation season in 2010. Overall the performance of the tracked machine on steep brash banks has been impressive. We have reduced wheel slip by 10-15% on the majority of fields and have eradicated wheel marks behind the drill. This means less compaction and less fuel being used which in turn leads to a more even crop establishment for less cost.

Swinbrook Farms

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Vaderstad RDA800S

Richard Davey of A & R Davey Partnership, Chalgrove, Oxon farms 2700 acres of combinable crops purchased a Vaderstad RDA800S prior to 2009 drilling season following a history of Vaderstad drills since the mid 90’s. “We chose the Vaderstad system because of the even drilling depth which leads to good establishment in all of our soil types, thus allowing us to run at a low running cost.” Richard also commented “It gives us high output because of the ability to drill at around 15kph, with an output averaging 200 acres a day.

A & R Davey Partnership

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Massey Ferguson 7499
“Having taken delivery of our new MF 7499 in July 2010, it has now completed a very successful autumn season’s work complementing our CAT Challenger 765. It was a major decision changing to MF but with the support and backup experienced from Lister Wilder with other products, and from Michelin with tyre selection, it all made for a smooth transition.”
“Initially there were a few teething troubles getting used to the Datatronic 3 box, but it did not take the operator long to get to know the routes through the controls.”
“Fuel economy and the CVT transmission were the main reasons for changing and we have not been disappointed. Both are much better than expected. The operator and tractor have an easier life as it is always in the correct gear for the job. Overall, it is a very good all round package.”

The Benham Estate

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Massey Ferguson 7260

Mr. James Hewison of Hewison Farms Ltd, Reading purchased his machine in readiness for the 2009 harvest of which is normally 800 Acres of mixed combinable crops. This is his third MF combine in recent years the previous being an MF7254 Machine. He is particularly pleased with the large 9000 litres Grain Tank capacity which was larger than the competitors machines he considered when purchasing. The main benefits of the Combine that James really enjoys are the simplicity of all the drivelines, very easy access to all maintenance points, especially the hinged radiator screen which he considers a lot better than the last machine, excellent visibility of the cutting table from the cab and the high unloading speed of the discharge auger. James said, “Combined with the features mentioned, superb reliability, very clean sample, low running costs and excellent Dealer back up was the main reason that I opted to choose another MF product, rather than purchasing another popular model of combine which we also considered.” James also stated he would be very happy to talk to any prospective customers looking at a similar machine.

Hewison Farms



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