What’s In Your Shed? We visit a Cambridgeshire arable farmer

The latest in our series snooping round readers’ machinery sheds sees us visit Cambridgeshire farmers Stephen and Luke Edgley.

Stephen and Luke Edgley

See also: Read more from our What’s In Your Shed? series

How loyal are you to individual brands?

We are John Deere all the way, and that includes the combine and sprayer.

We’ve had loads of support from our local dealers even when machines have been out of warranty, and Deere’s computer system also works well with Gatekeeper.

John Deere 780R tractor

Who is your favourite dealer/dealers and why?

Kit list

  • Tractors Five John Deeres – 7280R, 6150R, 6920, 6420s, 2650, plus a couple extra hired in during planting (usually 6930s)
  • Telehandler Manitou 735-120, plus three forklifts
  • Combine John Deere T670i, 30ft cut
  • Potato harvester Grimme Varitron 270
  • Sprayer John Deere 5430i, 36m boom
  • Drills Horsch Pronto 4DC, Lely Polymat 3m combi-drill, Grimme GB215 belt planter
  • Cultivations Cousins Patriot 3m, George Moate three-bed tiller, Grimme CS 150 de-clodder, KV six-furrow plough, Lemken five-furrow, Simba disc/press 3.5m
  • Trailers Three x 14t Bailey

We are pretty fortunate in being bang in the middle of two dealers that offer good back-up. Ben Burgess, in both Newmarket and Coates, sells and services Deere, Grimme, Manitou and Horsch, which pretty much covers all of our machines.

Favourite piece of kit?

The two-row Grimme harvester that arrived on the farm in September 2013.

It happened to turn up during a wet year and did a brilliant job of getting potatoes out of the ground that would otherwise have been left.

We had used a trailed Grimme harvester before that, so we were obviously worried about the damage to the soil when switching from an elevator harvester to one with a 7t bunker, but with tracks the weight is spread evenly and we’ve been really pleased with the results.

Least favourite piece of kit?

The drain cleaner. It’s one of the most important jobs on the farm but no one likes being cold and wet during the winter.

See also: What’s in Your Shed? We visit a Derbyshire dairy farmer

Latest purchase? What do you think of it?

We bought a 4m Horsch Pronto drill in September last year.

Before that we had relied on a contractor to do all the drilling – he had a Pronto as well, but it was beginning to show its age so we decided to take the work in-house.

We went drilling the day we got it and it’s been brilliant, but we’ve still kept our 3m Lely combi drill in the shed for back-up.

Take part in What’s In Your Shed?

If you’d like to reveal the contents of your machinery shed to us, email a few brief details and your phone number to fwmachinery@rbi.co.uk

Oldest piece of machinery still at work?

We run the drain cleaner on a John Deere 2650. It’s J-reg (1991) and we bought it 12 months old with 300 hours on the clock. It’s now on 11,000 hours and is as solid as ever.

How long do you keep your machines?

All of the tractors get Deere’s Powergard extended warranty, so they’re covered for five years.

We’re aiming to change each of them once their warranty ends, because we’re putting about 1,000 hours on each tractor every year.

The rest of the kit will be replaced whenever it starts to tire.

Grimme

What’s next on your wishlist?

We tried a Horsch Terrano cultivator last autumn and really liked the job it did and how quickly we could cover the land.

We’re currently doing all the work with a 3m Cousins Patriot, so a 4m or 5m Terrano or Vaderstad Topdown would definitely speed the job up.

Most embarrassing machinery mistake?

My father was moving a Swift Lift elevator between farms when the welds on the drawbar cracked.

The elevator broke free and continued travelling straight through someone’s garden wall.

Cousins cultivator

Most awkward grease nipple?

By far the worst grease nipples are on the Cousins Patriot cultivator.

Every disc needs greasing and they’re all pointing downwards so you can only get at them by rolling about on the floor.

It’s at least a 30min job, too.

What couldn’t you live without in the workshop?

The welder – we’ve got an Oxford mig welder that’s three years old, as well as a couple of arc welders.

We couldn’t live without a hammer, either – there’s always something that needs straightening.

Farm facts

A Edgley, Nightlayers Farm, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire

Farming
900ha, 300ha of which is owned and 600ha tenanted.

Cropping
400ha winter wheat, 130ha main crop potatoes, 100ha OSR, 80ha sugar beet, 60ha peas, 60ha spring barley/beans, plus seasonal rent of onion and leek ground and grassland under Entry Level Stewardship

Crop storage
6,000t potato storage in boxes and bulk. Fresh chipping potatoes are graded on-farm into 25kg bags and palletised using a robot. Wheat is stored at Fengrain, plus another 4,500t on-floor for wheat, OSR and peas.

Irrigation
All root crops are irrigated by six reel-and-boom irrigators from three reservoirs that provide up to 70m gallons of water.

Staff
Family run – Stephen and his son Luke alongside two other full-time workers, plus another part-time and up to 10 seasonals.

Do you buy second-hand?

We’ll happily dip into the used machinery market if we find something in good condition.

We considered buying a second-hand potato harvester, but a two-year-old Grimme 220 is still worth the fat end of £300,000 and most need another £50,000 spending on them so it’s hard to justify.

Finance packages are rarely as good for second-hand machinery either.

Favourite/least favourite job?

If everything is going to plan then potato harvesting is one of the best jobs – I love the busy time of year.

Least favourite is drain cleaning – it’s cold, wet and horrible.

What’s your everyday transport?

I’ve got an Isuzu Rodeo pickup on 107,000 miles, but we’ve also got a few vans including a Fiat Dioblo and a Transit that have both just reached the 100,000-mile mark.

Best tractor you’ve ever had?

It’s definitely the Deere 6920.

We bought it second-hand when our 6620 was stolen (it was eventually found in Poland somewhere).

We paid £34,500 with 1,500-hours on the clock but it included all the autosteer gubbins.

It is now on 8,500 hours and has been worth every penny.

Biggest machinery bargain?

It has to be the 6920 because when I bought it I was expecting to get just the tractor, but when it arrived it was kitted out with the Greenstar system, so I think I got a pretty good deal.

What would you buy if you won the lottery?

It would be nice to own all of the land we farm. We’d also have to get a bigger machinery shed with more kit to get the jobs done quicker.