Farmer Focus: Sticking with quadtrac in tractor rethink

The farm is sitting wetter now than at any other point in the past 12 months, so spring work is a week or two off yet.

Oilseed rape has lost some biomass but on the whole is OK. The autocast oilseed rape looks a little thin from the road but happily is much thicker when you’re in it, the long wheat stubble is deceiving but doing its job of keeping the pigeons off.

Land destined for spring cropping has over-wintered well although one particularly dirty field has got blackgrass coming through the ploughing.

See also: Buying a 150hp tractor? We look at 12 options

Considering it was ploughed very well it does highlight there is seed right through the profile, but hopefully spring cropping and delayed autumn drilling will take care of this.

Out with the old

In an effort to keep the machinery fleet efficient we’ve swapped two tractors for one. The old quadtrac had reached its 10th birthday with remarkably low costs and virtually no downtime so I thought it ought to go before I ended up eating my words.

Second to go was our Fastrac 3230 which was only five years old but just not suited to our controlled traffic system.

Although there is a trend away from big track layers to wheeled tractors due to improvements in tyre technology, we feel that in difficult conditions the quadtrac configuration is still unbeatable and on heavy land it has a remarkably light footprint.

With that in mind we’ve bought a new 620 Quadtrac. We could have managed with a smaller model, but after demos and many hours of late night number-crunching the fuel savings on the bigger model comfortably cover the additional capital cost and there is a slightly higher residual value.

February is ploughing match dinner month. There’s usually three in quick succession with Flintham and district first.

Having celebrated 97 years the recipe for a good night out still hasn’t changed, good company, good beer, good beef and a good comedian.

This year’s comedian was Nina Gilligan who was very good although I did find myself blushing quite a lot in between fits of laughter.

Keith Challen manages 1,200ha of heavy clay soils in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, for Belvoir Farming Company. Cropping includes wheat, oilseed rape and elderflowers. The farm is also home to the Belvoir Fruit Farms drinks business