What’s in Your Shed? visits a Worcestershire arable farmer

In the latest from our series that takes a peek behind the doors of the nation’s machinery sheds we visit Worcestershire farmers Peter and Matthew Basford.

The farm runs a fleet of New Holland tractors across its 225ha of cereal crops, along with some contracting work for neighbours.

They rate the Lemken Solitair drill as their favourite bit of kit, while the Gaspardo combination that it replaced was deemed the worst.

How loyal are you to individual brands?

Years ago we used to run Fords, but we switched to John Deere when the first 6000-series tractors were starting to hit the second-hand market.

These and the 6010 tractors that came after were fantastic machines, but we were less impressed with the 6020 series.

Peter and Matthew Basford

© James Andrews

On top of that, New Hollands looked much better value for money, so we switched back to blue tractors and have stayed with them ever since.

See also: What’s in Your Shed? visits a Herefordshire contractor

Favourite dealer?

We’ve got a couple of really good New Holland dealers on our doorstep –Ravenhill at Hereford and Murley Agricultural Supplies at Stourport.

Bateman is also fantastic to deal with and considering it is so far away the level of service is amazing.

Morris Corfield also has a depot just down the road from us and it’s fantastic for spares.

Unfortunately, it’ll soon be moving a bit further away to larger premises.

Favourite piece of kit?

The Lemken Solitair 9 drill is our favourite.

The metering system is really accurate and the seed placement through the double-disc coulters is fantastic.

Lemken Solitair-9

© James Andrews

We also like the fact the rubber packer textures and weatherproofs the seed-bed.

It has been on the farm for three years now and it has made a huge difference to the quality of our crop establishment.

Farm facts

Kyre Green Farm, Kyre, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

  • Farmed area 225ha
  • Cropping Winter wheat, winter oats, winter oilseed rape and spring beans
  • Contracting Carry out some contracting work for neighbouring farmers
  • Staff Peter and Matthew full time and Ron Willets part time

Least favourite?

The Gaspardo combination disc drill we had before the Lemken.

It was terrible to set up and use and it was made out of such cheap monkey metal that we were constantly welding it back together.

The Maschio power harrow sitting under it was good though.

Latest purchase?

We’ve just bought a New Holland T7050 to replace an old TM175.

It’s way ahead of the old tractor for driver comfort and we’ve also noticed it’s considerably better on fuel consumption.

The person who owned it before us also had it remapped to 242hp with boost so it flies along.

This will now be the main cultivation tractor and will be hooked to the 7-leg Disaerator for most of the autumn – it’ll be nice to have a bit of extra power as that thing takes some pulling.

Oldest machine still at work?

The Laverda 3790 combine is the oldest machine that still gets used every year.

It’s now got 26 seasons under its belt and 12 of those have been with us. It’s simple, really reliable and we’ve only ever had to replace bearings and belts.

New Holland TX68

© James Andrews

It’s also hydrostatic so it’s pretty pleasant to drive, too.

The TX68 does the lion’s share of the work now, but it still clocks up quite a few hours each year, particularly on contracting work in some of the smaller fields.

Kit list

  • Tractors New Holland TM175, TM190 and T7050; John Deere 6810 with Quicke loader
  • Combines New Holland TX68 Plus with 24ft header and Laverda 3790
  • Sprayers Bateman HiLo with 24m booms, Frazier Agribuggy Phantom converted to self-propelled fertiliser spreader
  • Fertiliser spreader Amazone ZAM 3001
  • Cultivation kit 7-leg McConnel Discaerator, Dowdeswell DP7 5-furrow plough, 3.5m Kuhn power harrow and home-made front press
  • Drills 3m Lemken Solitair 9 and small-seeds drill on Discaerator for oilseed rape planting

How long do you keep your machines?

We’ve got no set replacement policy, but instead prefer to change kit when it begins to be unreliable or we think we need something more powerful or modern.

Most of our tractors are on about 5,000 hours at the moment and as we’re pretty happy with their performance we’d happily run them up to 10,000.

In fact, the John Deere 6810 is about there now.

Do you buy second-hand?

We nearly always buy second-hand machinery, but if it’s a machine with an engine we usually buy through a dealer rather than private sales as we get better backup.

We tend to buy tractors when they are four to five years old as they’ve already had their biggest hit on depreciation.

We also try and buy machinery outright so that we’re not tied up in finance deals.

That’s particularly important with the price of commodities right now.

What’s next on your wishlist?

I think a grain trailer will be the next purchase.

We are after a tidy, second-hand 16-tonner and Richard Western is top of our wishlist.

They seem to be well-made trailers that should stand the test of time.

Biggest machinery mishap?

Matthew: When I was a lot younger I managed to pull down the power lines that crossed the yard with the loader and flat-eight bale grab. We dug them under the yard after that.

Most expensive repair bill?

A few years ago we had to put a new hydraulic pump and valve block on the John Deere 6810, which set us back about £5,000.

Other than that it’s been a pretty reliable tractor.

Best tractor you’ve ever had?

We used to have a John Deere 6910 that’s the most reliable tractor we’ve ever had – nothing went wrong with it.

At the time we sold it, it was on 9,000 hours and we had done 5,000 of those.

The only reason we got rid of it was that we wanted a bit more power.

Worst tractor you’ve ever had?

Luckily, we’ve never had a really bad one.

Best invention?

We made a grain pusher out of an old scrap lorry chassis we had lying around.

Because we don’t have a telehandler, the John Deere 6810 and Quicke loader has to do all the pushing up and we couldn’t get the heap high enough without it.

A grain pusher

© James Andrews

All the metal was on the farm already – other than a set of loader brackets – and we made the blade out of a half section of large-diameter, twin-wall plastic pipe.

It only took a day or two to make, cost virtually nothing and has massively upped our storage capacity without having to buy a telehandler.

Best modification?

We replaced the underpowered 1.8 Ford engine in our Frazier Phantom with a Land Rover 300 Tdi and automatic gearbox.

It has transformed it – the old engine was more suited to doing the shopping than running a farm vehicle.

Favourite job/least favourite job?

Peter: Combining is my favourite and running the mobile dryer is my least favourite.

Matthew: I like drilling, spraying and combining, but I hate hedgecutting.

Everyday transport?

We’ve got a Land Rover Discovery TD5 and a Toyota Land Cruiser LC5 – you need a reliable backup vehicle when you own a Land Rover.

The Discovery is nice to drive, but it’s had loads of problems including the air suspension, (which has now been replaced with a coil conversion) and a cracked cylinder head.

To be honest it’s not really happy unless it has got a warning light on.

The Land Cruiser, meanwhile, has been on the farm for five years and hasn’t played up once.

Biggest machinery bargain?

We picked up a 4m set of Lemken power harrow tines on the internet for just £50.

They were new, but someone had obviously sent them off for hard facing and it had been put on the wrong side.

New ones are £22 each so they were a bargain and as we’ve only got a 3m machine we’ve got a few spares too.

Any machinery classics in the shed?

We’ve got an old Fordson Super Major that we’ve been threatening to do up for years. It’s a runner, but it could do with a bit of cosmetic work.

Are you a What’s in Your Shed fan?

If you’re keen on your farm machinery and are a regular reader of What’s In Your Shed, why not get in touch and be featured yourself?

For the series to work it relies on farmers and contractors coming forward and inviting us to look round their machinery sheds.

So if you’ve considered taking part, but haven’t got round to approaching us, please get in touch.

And if you think your farm is too small, or your machinery is too old, think again – we want to visit farms of all shapes and sizes. It just needs to be a proper, working farm or contracting business.

You can get in touch by sending an email to fwmachinery@rbi.co.uk or by calling 020 8652 4951.