Normac returns to Brettenham Manor Farm

The combination of light, free-draining soil and big fields made Brettenham Manor Farm a popular venue for the 2008 Normac cultivations event, which is why the club is making a return visit for this year’s demonstration.

Apart from just 16ha of clay, the rest of the farm’s 1,460ha is on light or medium-to-light sandy soil over chalk, which allows tractors and cultivation equipment to work in even the wettest of weather.

The 60ha of barley stubble chosen for this year’s demonstration site should offer plenty of scope for large tractors and implements to be put through their paces. Peter Wright, who runs the farm for the JA & PE Wright partnership, says he agreed to host the 2012 demonstration because the previous Norfolk Machinery Club (Normac) event at Brettenham was so successful.

“It went well and seems to have been very popular, so we agreed to hold it here again,” he says. “Many Norfolk farms are on light land, and the demonstration should provide a good opportunity to compare different cultivation equipment on this type of soil.”

Event: Normac Cultivations Demonstration
Organiser: Norfolk Machinery Club
Date: 6 September 2012
Host: JA & PE Wright
Location: Brettenham Manor Farm, Brettenham, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2RP
Time: 9am-4pm
Cost: no charge for admission or car parking

Cropping at Brettenham Manor includes 300ha of winter and spring barley, 200ha of sugar beet and 140ha of herbage seeds, and the farm also produces potatoes and carrots. An outdoor sow unit occupies about 175ha and the 240ha of permanent pasture grazed by sheep and beef cattle includes 140ha managed under an HLS scheme.

Running a big arable acreage on light land can be challenging, especially in what is usually a low rainfall area, but there are some compensations, including a relatively low power requirement.

Peter runs the farm with just three mainline tractors – a 212hp New Holland T7050 plus two T7040s with 200hp output. He also hires or borrows an additional tractor to help with grain carting during the harvest and two smaller tractors plus two telehandlers are allocated permanently to the pig unit.

Running the arable acreage for most of the year with only 612hp is helped by making extensive use of reduced cultivations. Apart from limited use of the plough for some of the sugar beet land, the main cultivation tool is a Vaderstad Cultus cultivator, which is followed by a 6m Horsch Pronto 6DC cultivator drill.

Also on the Brettenham Manor machinery list is a 36m Sands self-propelled sprayer, a six-row Vervaet beet harvester that also does contract work to earn its keep, a New Holland BB980 baler and a New Holland CX880 combine with a 9m header. For grass seed harvesting the combine is fitted with a Shelbourne-Reynolds stripper header which continues to work efficiently after 18 harvests – an impressive record, says Peter.

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