FAMILY FIRM KEEPS FLEXIBLE TO SUCCEED: PETER HILL

FLEXIBILITY IS the name of the game when it comes to making a success of cultivation implements, says John Cousins, managing director of Cambs-based Cousins of Emneth.

“We need a flexible approach to production because the product mix changes from one year to the next, often because of the weather.

 “But also because we like to adapt existing implements when necessary to take account of users” experience. If someone comes up to me at a show with a good idea, I’ll get it built and if it works we”ll have it at another show the same year!”

With a £2m turnover, the business is a family concern in every sense of the word. Started by Norman Cousins in the early 1950s, day-to-day management is in the hands of his son John and granddaughter Laura. Most of the company”s employees live in or close to the village of Emneth near Wisbech.

The firm lives largely off its reputation for basic, robust engineering – there are no salesmen to chivvy dealers – and implements designed to do a job of work without too many fancy features.

“What sells best in any one year depends on the circumstances,” says Laura Cousins. “If it’s a year that calls for a lot of ploughing, then we will sell a lot of furrow presses. A good minimum tillage season will see more demand for our traditional tine cultivators and newer combination implements.”

Contour and Sidewinder folding rolls and the V-Form soil loosener are among the more consistently popular products in the Cousins portfolio. But the increasing use of minimum tillage techniques has seen renewed demand for traditional cultivators like the rigid tine Norfolk, heavy spring tine Flexx and arrow-head tined Wingz implements.

The “Springboard” Packa Rolla is also doing well, it seems. This cultivator/press combination follows a now familiar formula, but with some Cousins individuality – two rows of rigid and paddle-type levelling tines are followed by either conventional cast press rings or with a one- or two-row Razor Ring press.

 “Unlike a cast ring, there are no spokes to bung up with sticky soil,” says Laura Cousins. “The discs keep turning because they are all part of one structure.”

 The novel design is also available for the V-Form soil loosener and other cultivators in the range. It also forms the basis of a newcomer that picks up on the high-speed shallow disc cultivator theme.

“Sometimes we like to be ahead of the game with a new design, other times we will sit back and wait to see what interest there is in a new idea before seeing what we can come up with,” says John Cousins.

“This new implement is a case in point. Having seen what other people are doing, we have decided to go for two rows of fixed angle discs followed by two rows of interlocking Razor Rings, which we think will consolidate the tilth more thoroughly than existing implements.”

 Cousins is also working on another big trailed implement designed for stubble busting or working down ploughed ground on heavier soils. It uses tines followed by a single row Razor Ring packer.

The Down Draught uses elements of existing cultivators – rigid tines with from the Norfolk cultivator and V-Form subsoiler legs.

 “Because the tines can be mounted ahead of or behind each cross-member, the layout allows for impressive trash clearance,” says Laura Cousins. “In other circumstances, users could add more tines for a more intensive cultivating effect.”

 fwmachinery@rbi.co.uk