What’s in Your Shed? visits a Norfolk contractor

Farm operations manager Sam Glover (21) chats to us about his growing machinery fleet, why he has chosen a brace of Agrifac Condor sprayers to cover the vast acreage and the reason his tractor fleet is exclusively red.

He also reveals why he has switched from running two sugar beet harvesters in previous years, to just one for the coming campaign and why he still favours older Claas combines.

See also: See what’s in other farmers’ machinery sheds 

Sam Glover with his granddad Barry Glover

Sam Glover with his granddad Barry Glover

How brand loyal are you?

As far as the combines go, Claas is the tried-and-tested brand. My dad, Tim, had a Claas Dominator 86 on the family farm, so it’s stemmed for there.

Although we have tried other brands, the backup and parts availability from Claas dealer Manns is second to none in our area.

For the past five years we have run a fleet of Case tractors and really like the CVX transmission and comfortable cabs, but when we first got going, we were solely McCormick.

The sprayers are Agrifac and as with all our kit, it boils down to reliability and helping the business develop. 

Favourite dealer?

We get on well with Ernest Doe Power based at Fakenham, which is about 30 minutes from us and where most of our kit comes from.

David Gricks is the branch manager and has looked after us well over the past five years, and there’s an engineer out the same day if we have an issue.

Favourite bit of kit?

The Agrifac Condor is my favourite piece of kit, mainly because I drive it all spring, so I pretty much live in it.

I like the boom stability and cab suspension, and the newest machine has Trimble RTK satellite, which means it is fairly relaxed when you get in big fields.

Agrifac Condors

Agrifac Condors

In spring 2017, our days started at 2:30am and finished at about 9pm. We covered about 200ha as the weather limited decent spray days, although there is only a certain amount of time you can do these hours for.

Our newest 2016 model already has 3,800 hours on the clock and has covered more than 22,000ha.

Least favourite?

The He-Va subsoiler – not because it does a bad job, but when there is a sign of weeds or some long stubble, you spend most of the time unplugging the legs.

Contracting facts

Business Glover Agricultural Services, West Dereham, Norfolk

Staff Sam Glover, plus 10 full-time and two self-employed staff

Workload

  • Spraying – 20,000ha
  • Baling and chasing – 25,000 bales
  • Combining – 1,300ha
  • Sugar beet harvesting – 1,800 ha
  • Cereal drilling – 600ha
  • Sugar beet drilling – 250ha
  • Muck- and Limex spreading, plus sub-contracting for large vegetable growers

Latest purchase?

We have just purchased a new Ropa Tiger 6 sugar beet harvester, which has a 40kph gearbox that will speed up journeys around the county and allow us to spend more time in the field.

The RR lifter is a huge leap forward from our last model and the single-row adjustment will help reduce the amount of wearing parts that need replacing.

We used to run two Vervaet harvesters and this latest Ropa Tiger will see us drop down to one, so it may be a testing season, although we plan to double-shift it and run 24 hours a day.

Oldest machine in the fleet?

Our oldest machine still in full-time service is our baby Claas Lexion 460 combine, which is an R-registered model.

Despite being the oldest, it is our most reliable combine, as it has minimal electronics and only had a couple of hydraulic hoses go last year.

We find it better to run two smaller and one large combine, rather than two monster machines. Some of the field sizes around here are as small as 3ha, so having a nimble machine more than pays for itself in these areas. 

How long do you keep machines for?

All our Case tractors are on extended 5,000- or 6,000-hour warranties and due to our workload, most will easily hit this figure within three years, so will be changed before the warranty expires.

Our latest Pumas were delivered last August and one is already on 1,800 hours. We have on average three new tractors a year.

 Case Puma 240 CVX

Case Puma 240 CVX

What’s next of your wish list?

We had a Case Optum 300 on demo last harvest to provide more firepower on the cultivation work.

We liked the AFS 700 screen and the cab is more comfortable than our Puma tractors. I’d like to think we will have one here for this autumn.

Most expensive repair bill?

One of our early Case Puma 165s was under a year old on 1,200 hours when it gave us a hefty repair bill after it developed a problem with its rear brakes.

We sent it to the dealer to be repaired, but the warranty didn’t cover it, so we had to fit the £6,000 bill.

We thought it was sorted, but later that year the same issue reoccurred on the same tractor and once again, the bill was picked up by us.

What couldn’t you live without in the workshop?

We don’t do a lot of inventing and most machines have their own service packages, but all our combines are older models and are serviced by my uncle, who has his own engineering business on site and is a bit of a Claas specialist.

Lexion 600 and 460

Lexion 600 and 460

Do you buy second-hand?

Not really. Due to the hours we put on machines, warranties are valuable, so we tend to buy most things new to avoid nasty surprises.

Favourite job?

Spraying. Possibly due to the sprayers we run, but I love being up early and getting lots of land covered in a day.

Least favourite?

Paperwork.

What’s your everyday transport?

A 2015 Isuzu D-Max, which we bought new and has the excellent 2.5-litre, twin-turbo engine. It’s done about 48,000 miles so far, but some days it sits in the yard as I’m glued to the sprayer seat.

What’s in the shed?

Harvesters 2007 Claas Lexion 600, 30ft header; 2006 Claas Lexion 570, 25ft header; 1997 Claas Lexion 460, 25ft header; 2017 Ropa Tiger 6 beet harvester

Sprayers 2012 Agrifac Condor self-propelled sprayer, 36m; 2016 Agrifac Condor self-propelled sprayer, 36m, full RTK

Tractors 2015-2017, 11 x Case Puma tractors, 160 – 240hp

Straw kit 2 x New Holland BB9090t square balers; 1 x New Holland 4×3 baler; 1 x Heath Superchaser extra

Cultivation and drilling Lemken 7-furrow plough; Lemken Solitair 8 combination drill 4m; Horsch pronto drill 4m; Vicon Unicorn 12-row beet drill

Lemken Solitair 8 drill

Lemken Solitair 8 drill

Best tractor you’ve owned?

We don’t strictly own it yet, but the Case Optum we had on demo last year that pulled our Lemken plough about 2.5kph quicker than our Puma 240, and made us think we need the extra power on some of the heavier land we farm.

Worst tractor?

When we started the contracting business, we ran McCormick machines, as they offered a cheap form of power to get us established, but one 215hp machine caused us all sorts of issues, with the electric joystick and hydraulic system being the main culprits.

It prompted us to switch our shade of red. That said, we liked the smaller McCormick machines.

Biggest machinery bargain?

We bought a new 6m weed wiper, used it for six years and sold it as part of a trade-in for more than the original purchase price. I wish it was like that with tractors – we’d change them every year.