1 August 1997

Challenge on road to

is toughthe final

Concluding our two-part review of this years Tractor Driver of the Year competition, we talk to finalists from Leicestershire and York

NEVILLE KIRKHAM is a little cautious about this years Tractor Driver of the Year final on Aug 12 – he got this far back in 1993 and has a clear recollection of what it was like.

"It was a tough challenge then, and Im sure it will be equally as taxing this time round," says the 32-year-old farmer from Loughborough, Leicestershire.

At Rushey Fields Farm, Woodhouse, which Mr Kirkham runs with his parents, his time is spent on Ford, JCB Fastrac and John Deere tractors. All work is shared, so Mr Kirkham considers himself a bit of an all-rounder.

"We arent tied to one tractor/one machine, so you have to get stuck in to all jobs."

And on 404ha (1000 acres) of mixed farm with dairy, beef, sheep and arable enterprises, theres plenty to do. Mowing, forage harvesting, drilling and big square baling take up most of his time during the summer months.

"I use a Deere 3650 for drilling with an Accord/Kuhn combination, while a Fastrac 1135 is preferred for mowing, baling and fertiliser spreading," he says. "The Fastracs smoother ride helps when speed gets above 5mph."

Asked what makes a good tractor driver, Mr Kirkham replies: "Its a combination of many things including safety and efficiency – you need good knowledge of equipment, be abreast of road legislation, take care when operating machinery and still be able to get the job done properly."

Fourth time in the competition and now second time in the final, Mr Kirkham hopes with a little more homework this time he can "go all the way".

Neville Kirkham spends his busy times and John Deere tractors on the familys

switching between Ford, JCB Fastrac 404ha mixed Leicestershire farm.