24 July 1998

He can use it – and make it, too

This years Tractor Driver of

the Year final takes place on

Aug 11 at Silsoe. In the first

of this two-part series,

Andy Collings talks to three

of the five finalists

MOTOR sports and skiing number among the interests of Jonathan Spray who has made it to the finals after only one previous attempt.

Working in partnership with his father on a 100ha (250-acre) arable farm at Fulwood, Sutton in Ashfield, Notts, he admits that taking part in such events can be a nerve-racking experience.

"I have always been one to take on a challenge," he says. "But the thought of the final does fill me with a certain trepidation."

Land at Mr Sprays Crow Trees farm leans towards the heavy, favouring the production of winter wheat, winter barley and spring beans. Principal workhorse is a 100hp Fiat which he uses to cultivate and drill – the drill is a 3m Amazone RPD which is used in conjunction with a front-mounted press or cultivator.

"We tend to make some of our tackle ourselves," says Mr Spray. "Not only is it a cheaper option, we can make it specifically to meet our soil type and needs."

Such an ability is to be admired, but where he gets the time to work away in the workshop is hard to imagine. Not only does Mr Spray work his own farm, there is the matter of performing much the same tasks on his uncles 100ha (250-acre) unit.

"We try and work together as far as machinery is concerned," he says. "For example, we use my uncles combine – a Laverda 3600 – to harvest our grain and I drive it to harvest his."

A Frazier Agribuggy, complete with 12m sprayer or 12m fertiliser spreader, is also used by Mr Spray for both farms.

"It is a question of economy, in this day and age, it is hard to justify new equipment on relatively small acreages," he says.

On the social front, Mr Spray is still a keen member of his local Young Farmers Club, but only for this year. Having now reached the age of 26 he is having to come to terms with the fact that his membership could now be at an end.

"I have been in the Pleasley Young Farmers Club since I was 11 years old," he says. "I just hope I can continue to give the club a hand and stay involved in its running."

So, the scene is set. The final dawns and Mr Spray will be there competing hard and hoping to succeed.

"It is an unknown quantity and I am not too sure what to expect. All I know is that I shall be doing my best."

Jonathan Spray not only uses a wide range of machinery on the farm, he also makes some it.