7 September 2001

Veteran tractor fits bill for high hp and low cost

A VETERAN Ford FW30 has made the dream of high horsepower and low cost a reality for Sentry manager Richard Peck.

Mr Peck, who manages 1245ha (3000 acres) on the Minterne Estate in West Dorset, was looking for a machine to provide motive power for his minimum cultivation system. The job description listed serious power, traction and drivability and at a cost of around £5000 plus a £4000 refurbishment, the 23-year-old, 300hp FW30 filled the position.

The essential renovation consisted of a clutch and gearbox with a few extras considered essential for operator comfort – namely an air suspension seat, sound deadening, air-conditioning and a stereo.

Much of the land on the estate comprises poor, flinty soil precluding high average yields. The current minimum cultivation system was designed to provide rapid establishment without compromising the limited yield potential of the land. Post harvest, the FW does a single pass with a John Deere Mulch Tiller in combination with a Simba single press followed by drilling with a John Deere 740 mulch drill and roller.

The FW has proved reliable and despite the weather, 200ha (500 acres) of oilseed rape was established during August. Mr Peck is aware that such machines will not suit everybody, but it is a very affordable option.

"We have to make a profit on these Estates and the cost of gleaming horsepower simply does not stack up on marginal land," he says. &#42