Perhaps the one bit of kit which I have not really talked about on the blog is our Mastenbroek 15-15 trencher. This is because it’s our smallest machine and used mainly for Sportsfield drainage and other non farming jobs. However it can still find a role once in a while in an agricultural setting. Being smaller it is able to work in more confined areas, it weighs less than our other machines and large, tapered tracks mean it causes less damage to the ground. It is also fitted with a surplus soil conveyer. This device lifts the soil excavated by the cutting chain and places it on a conveyer to be collected by a tractor and trailer, our other machines place the earth from the trenches either side the excavation. The picture below shows the machine in action.
And here is the trench it produces
Being able to lift the soil clear of the trench is extremely beneficial if large amounts of permeable backfill are being added to the trench to increase the performance of the drain, as is the norm in Sportsfield drainage.
Outcomes the sun and suddenly the jobs which we could not do, are now good to go all at the same time! This blog is supposed to be about land drainage and agricultural contracting, but I realised that I spend a great deal of time talk about the weather and the seasons. There is no avoiding nature in my line of work it controls what we do and then we do it, it’s the same of most work in Agriculture.
The other seasonal aspect of my life is time spent in the car. In the winter most of the jobs we do are small which translates as local - no one who is not local can complete on price if transport cost are high percentage of a small total. In the summer the contracts tend to be larger and often further away. This week I have been on a job just outside London, next week we are up north to Bradford. I clock up quite a few miles over the course of a year, but the vast majority are travelled between May and October.
It’s been a quiet time of late, spent hiding from the rain, here at the mudhound. When the weather is as wet as it has been for the last two weeks we have no choice but to cowl in the depot and wait for the sun to reappear. Twice last week I splashed through the River Leam which busted its banks on both the way to work and going home. Many were turning around, but the trusty Freelander managed to push the water aside, causing an envious stare from a couple of Ford Festia Drivers.
Whilst we certainly need the water, the guys are getting bored of indoor jobs, there is only so much tidying that can be done. Of course we could get out there, it takes a hell of a lot to stop a drainage machine, however the damage which would be caused to the soils structure would be considerable and drainage is supposed to improve structure not destroy it!
On the subject of soils I attended a talk about soil fertility last week, by fellow Nuffield Scholar Tom Bradshaw. It was excellent, his arguments were logical and delivered with a clear enthusiasm. The gist of the talk, as I saw it, was that soils need to be cared for and thought about constantly. Perhaps in the past we have been guilty of taking the soil of granted and relying on chemical imports. However anything that reduces costs is very welcome indeed.