Farmer Focus : Steve Bumstead 10/12/04

IT’S THAT time of the year again – MOTs and repairs, although to keep life interesting we like to break something during busy periods. The combines are especially good for that.

With the car done, I am now preparing the Land Rover with a good powerwash underneath, for the benefit of Dave of Ardross Autos. He has remarked quite pointedly that Bedfordshire soil is not appreciated in his MOT workshop.

One of the unscheduled repair jobs arose the other week when I was folding up the sprayer booms.

My suspicions of increasingly “lazy” hydraulics in the MF 3070 spray tractor were violently confirmed with a loud bang from below followed by a rise in engine revs.

Luckily, I am too pig-headed to heed Club Farm Business Adviser’s advice of doing everything with one tractor and own an outrageous five tractors (not including the telescopic loader). So I had back-up to fold up the sprayer, get it home and continue working the next day.

On inspection I discovered a seized hydraulic pump and broken drive gear. A few phone calls secured a new pump and some used drive gear for a fraction of the manufacturer’s new cost.

After a spot of limbo dancing, weight lifting and the odd Basil Fawlty impersonation I got it back together and up and running again.

I am still no further ahead with next harvest’s cropping. Although I feel a little foolish I am still exploring the options of spring barley, pulses or even linseed.

Seed costs annoy me. Some prices are more than four times commercial crop values.

The questions I am asking myself are what is going to give the best gross margin, what has a tangible demand and where are the sustainable fixed price contracts?