31 July 1998

Versatility helped him win his way

to the final stage

Concluding our two-part

review of this years Tractor

Driver of the Year

competition, we talk to

finalists from North

Yorkshire and Leicestershire

IT is into the finals at the first attempt for North Yorkshires Richard Hughes, who entered the Tractor Driver of the Year competition because "its a challenge to test my knowledge and skill."

Mr Hughes works at Aldro Farm, Leavening, whose 566ha (1400 acres) are part of the 2428ha (6000 acres) Birdsall Beef Company farms in the area.

As one of three main tractor drivers, he is involved in both its livestock and arable enterprises. On the stock side he is responsible for feeding a 600-head beef unit with a Parmiter mixer feeder wagon. On the arable side his main duties cover drilling and then fertiliser spreading 607ha (1500 acres) of combinable crops, predominantly autumn sown wheat, barley and oilseed rape.

"We have 1000 acres here at Aldro, and I drill and spread fertiliser on another 500 acres on other units and on some 400 acres of permanent pasture down for the suckler herd." Mr Hughes explains.

From where else has he gained the all round know-how to put him in contention for the title of Tractor Driver of the Year?

"Im interested in machinery and got a lot of experience of a wide range of arable and grassland equipment at college," says Mr Hughes, who has an NCA (distinction) and the Best Practical Student award for the course and an NDA (also distinction) from Askambryan, York.

Add to those qualifications Mr Hughes self-motivation and the full picture emerges. "I drive only John Deere tractors on the farm so I went out and drove New Hollands, Case and Massey Fergusons, to familiarise myself with the control layouts and their hydraulics," he reveals.

"Ill be trying my best in the final, however it all depends on how you do on the day, there will be unpredictable moments," he observes calmly, but admitting that the adrenaline will start pumping as Aug 11 and Silsoe approaches.

And, whatever the outcome, Mr Hughes will be trying again in the year 2000. "Its an extremely enjoyable competition which has definitely made me a better operator," he says. "And there is the financial incentive."