Somerset farmer Mark Heywood imported the first Aerworx aerator from the USA four years ago. He was so impressed with the machine that he redesigned it for UK conditions and started making and selling them under licence. Previous models have had smaller-diameter drums that were aimed at regular soils, but he believes this latest mounted machine – called the 10.42M – can do a good job even in the driest, toughest clay.

The operation needs to be done in late summer or early autumn when the soil is dry, he points out, so that the ground cracks and produces fissures. On clay soils that requires some serious weight – the 10.42M weighs 2.6t empty and 4.8t when the 1.06m diameter drum is full of water. Blade lengths of 13-80cm are available and there’s one width – 3m.

Forward speeds of 10-12mph are recommended, so some 40ha could be aerated in a day. Tractor power requirement is 130hp if the drum is empty or 200hp if it is fully ballasted. Cost of the unit is £9,700.

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