In the latest in our series looking at readers’ farm machinery Oliver Mark visits Lincolnshire grower Edward Ward.
EA and SJ Ward, Range Farm, Beckingham, Lincolnshire
Farming: 662ha split across two farms. 500ha of owned and rented arable land plus up to 400ha contract combining and other contract work, 162ha of permanent grassland plus 80ha contract hay and silage
Cropping: winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, 30ha stubble turnips followed by spring barley
Storage: 1,200t on-floor drying, the rest on concrete floors
Livestock – 75 Limosin X suckler cows, 150 store cattle
Staff: Family run – Edward and his brother George full-time, parents who work part-time and a student at harvest for corn carting
In the shed
Tractors: Case STX 480 Quadtrac, Case Puma CVX 160, JCB Fastrac 1135,
Telehandlers: John Deere 3400, Matbro TS 270
Combine: Claas Lexion 580+TT with 9m header
Sprayer: Sands SLC 4000 self-propelled with 24m boom
Drills: 8m Vaderstad Rapid, 3.8m, seven-leg Simba Flatliner with rape seeder
Cultivations: 4.5m Simba Solo, 6.6m Simba Cultipress, 12m rolls with Avadex applicator and slug pelleter
Grass: Claas mower, Kverneland tedder and rake, New Holland 650 round baler, Tanco wrapper
Other: 16t and 18t Bailey trailers on flotation tyres, 18t Bunning muckspreader
More from our What’s in Your Shed series
How loyal are you to individual brands?
Not very – the only brand we really stick with is Claas for its combines. The rest of the time we prefer to go for whichever machine seems the best value for money and best suited to the job.
Who is your favourite dealer?
Marshes of Sleaford is probably our best dealer. The service is second to none with manager Colin Blow running an excellent team and it is backed up by the Claas company which always manages to keep us going when there’s a problem. Our nearest John Deere dealer, Sharmans, also deserves a mention, although we haven’t dealt with them so much recently.
Favourite piece of kit?
Easily the Case Quadtrac. We’ve run one for two years and I think it’s the best tractor you can buy for fieldwork – it’s comfortable enough to spend long hours on, it’s got awesome power and it never leaves any wheelings. It might be a bit of a luxury but we wouldn’t have anything else.
Least favourite piece of kit?
It has to be the 20-year-old Matbro loader, which we bought from a dairy farm without viewing it. That was a massive error and it gives us grief on a regular basis.
Latest purchase? What do you think of it?
A Case Puma 160 CVX, which replaced our old MX 120 at the end of last harvest. The stepless gearbox is brilliant – it will take a lot of the pain out of round baling, haulage, and most other jobs on the farm. It’ll even pull our 18t Bunning muckspreader when necessary, and will hopefully save us a bit of fuel, too.
Oldest piece of machinery still at work?
We’ve got a Massey Ferguson 35, which my brother George bought as a project. It makes me laugh watching him rowing up hay with it but there’s nothing on the farm that uses less fuel.
How long do you keep your machines?
There’s no set period – we just keep kit until we think it’s past its best and needs upgrading.
What’s next on your wish list?
A trailed subsoiler is next on the agenda. We currently run a seven-leg Simba Flatliner behind the Quadtrac but we’ve had to beef it up because it can’t handle the power. If we do replace is then a TWB machine is probably top of the list – it’s a local company and the kit looks pretty solid.
Most embarrassing machinery mistake?
We haven’t had too many, but we’ve twice smashed the sheeting rack on the tailgate of the Bailey trailers while pulling out of the grainstore.
Most awkward grease nipple?
There are two tricky ones on the combine auger. When they’re facing the wrong way they are a nightmare to get at because you have to try and turn the auger by hand.
What’s your best invention?
Definitely our three-in-ones rolls that we entered into the Farm Inventions competition last year. We attached an Avadex applicator and Stocks slug pelleter to a set of 12m rolls. Being able to do three things in one pass can only be a good thing and it means we don’t have to pay a contractor to apply Avadex. We’re still tweaking it, though – the wheels on the rolls couldn’t handle all the extra weight so we’re switching them to fit super single tyres.
What couldn’t you live without in the workshop?
The welder. Whether we’re repairing machinery or making new things it’s always getting some use. It’s only a stick welder, but we’ve got access to a mig if we need it.
Do you buy second hand?
Yes, nearly all the time. There’s nothing wrong with second hand as long as you do your homework and view before you buy.
Favourite/least favourite job?
Combining is my favourite – it’s the culmination of a year’s hard work. I enjoy drilling, too, especially when we can get a 10ha field finished in an hour. Baling is the least favourite, along with feeding the cows every day.
Best tractor you’ve ever had?
Probably the Case MX 120. It was super reliable – we ran it for 10 years with no major breakdowns and we only lost £4,000 when we sold it at 8,000hours. Hopefully the Puma will be just as good.
Biggest machinery bargain?
We ran a Claas Lexion 480 for two years doing the combining on our land and a fair bit of contracting. It never broke down and we managed to sell it for the same as we paid for it. But better still was our Case Magnum MX 200 – we kept it for three years and sold it for £5,000 more than we bought it for.
Biggest myth to do with farm machinery?
Keeping machinery outside doesn’t matter. Who wants to spend half their life battling with rusty nuts and bolts?
What would you buy if you won the lottery?
I’d buy another farm. The 2,000 acres that was just sold next door would have been ideal. I’d also upgrade some of the kit, and maybe get myself a Nissan GTR.
Any machinery toys/classics lurking in the shed?
We’ve got a Massey Ferguson 205X industrial loader. I’m not sure if there are any others running in the UK, but it still gets a fair bit of use and I’d quite like to restore it sometime. It’s got a hydrostatic transmission and is far quicker at unloading bales than either of our telehandlers.
If you’d like to reveal the contents of your workshop to us, email email@example.com