11 August 1995

Systems enthusiast says its theright way forward

As the Tractor Driver of the Year final draws closer Andrew Faulkner concludes his report on the five finalists by providing profiles of contestants from Sussex and Cambridgeshire

SOUTHERN representative at the 1995 Tractor Driver of the Year final is a systems tractor enthusiast who reckons the concept will become increasingly popular in the UK.

Sussex farmer Philip Luckin runs his familys 320ha (800-acre) dairy/arable Brooklands Farm, Warnham, near Horsham, with the help of a herdsman and extra casual labour in the summer. For most of the year the farms 280ha (700 acres) of arable land are looked after by one man and one tractor – Mr Luckin and a 115hp Fendt GTA395 systems tractor.

"The systems approach of using front- and rear-mounted equipment to reduce labour and machinery costs has to be the right way forward for farms of this size," Mr Luckin says.

"Our one Fendt does the same jobs today that we used to do with four tractors."

Matched to his systems tractor Mr Luckin has a range of equipment – a 3000-litre (660gal) Gem sprayer with 18m (60ft) booms, a Kuhn fertiliser spreader and a five-furrow Kuhn variable width reversible plough. For drilling the Fendt is coupled to a rear-mounted 3m (10ft) wide Kuhn power harrow combination with a choice of Lely Roterra or tine/press cultivator for the front linkage, depending on working conditions.

The big four tractor makers – New Holland Ford, Massey Ferguson, Case IH and John Deere – do not do well at Brooklands Farm, where the Fendts only back-up tractor is an 80hp Deutz DX80. This has caused Mr Luckin problems at past Tractor Driver of the Year events.

"I am not too familiar with the mainstream tractor models, which tend to be the ones used in the competition. This years semi-final was the first time I had seen an MF 6100-series tractor."

To counter this lack of knowledge Mr Luckin plans to visit local machinery dealers to familiarise himself with his likely steeds at the Silsoe final.

One-man operation for the arable area of Philip Luckins 320ha farm.