Yorkshire pig farmers Dom and Richard Foster are the latest producers to give Farmers Weekly a tour around their machinery sheds.
How loyal are you to individual brands?
We’ve never really stuck to one brand. If a particular machine looks well-made and capable, we’ll give it a try. We are pretty loyal to our local dealers, though.
Who is your favourite dealer?
Our three main dealers RBM, Russells and W Scruton. We buy most of our machinery from these guys and all of them have excellent back up, parts and sales departments.
Dom and Richard Foster, Newlands Farm, York
- Farming 6,000 B&B pigs and 130ha arable
- Contracting Mowing, tedding, raking and producing 3,000 round silage bales, 4,500 round straw bales. Plus 600 hours of tractor driving and trailer work a year.
- Staff Dad, me full-time and one seasonal worker
Favourite piece of kit?
The Lemken Solitair 8 drill – it places seed brilliantly even in a bad seed-bed. It’s probably the most versatile and forgiving drill we’ve ever had.
Before we had a mounted Vaderstad Rapid 30, which we didn’t get on with at all. If the ground was bone dry and rock hard, it did a half-decent job.
But as soon as there was a bit of moisture it made a horrible smeary mess. The paddle levellers at the front also liked to roll up cheesy balls of soil.
Least favourite piece of kit?
Knocke discs – the grease nipples are impossible to get to and they block up just by looking at soil.
They’ll be in the workshop for an overhaul this winter and we’ll try and get some better scrapers made. We’ve had them since 1985, though, so they don’t owe us much.
Oldest piece of machinery still at work?
How long do you keep your machines?
We don’t have a fixed replacement policy. Instead we tend to move machines on when we’re fed up with them breaking down too much.
As a rule, I prefer to run an old machine I know, rather than a new or second-hand machine that could be unpredictable.
What’s next on your wishlist?
A combine and a grain store.
What’s in your machinery shed?
- Tractors Valtra T163e Unlimited, John Deere 7530
- Loaders Manitou MLT731 telehandler, New Holland LS160 skid-steer
- Sprayer Househam/Chafer self-propelled with 24m booms
- Drill Lemken Solitair 8, 3m combination drill
- Cultivation kit Dowdeswell DP140six-furrow plough, Maschio Aquila 4m powerharrow, KRM Agrisem Discomulch and Combiplow.
- Grass kit Kverneland trailed mower conditioner, Lely four-rotor tedder, Kuhn two-rotor rake, Vicon RV2160 round baler, Kverneland 7515 round bale wrapper
Most embarrassing machinery mistake?
When I’d just started doing a lot of tractor driving I went to roll some grass for a customer.
While unfolding the rollers I realised I hadn’t locked the hitch and spent the next hour sitting on the roadside with the drawbar pointing to the sky.
Most awkward grease nipple?
The universal joints on the Manitou. They’re a right faff.
What’s your best invention?
A tool to remove used cartridges from grease guns without getting covered in grease. It’s simple, but very effective.
What couldn’t you live without in the workshop?
The cordless drill – it’s constantly in use.
Do you buy second-hand?
Yes, but I’m very picky and I’ll only buy from a trustworthy source.
The scarily-high price of new machines means it’s a gamble I’m increasingly willing to take.
Favourite job/ least favourite job?
Drilling and making silage are my favourite jobs.
Pressure washing pig pens is definitely the worst.
We’ve just taken delivery of a new Valtra T163e Unlimited in black.
It’s a replacement for a T163 Eco we bought last year that turned out to be a bit of a dog.
There were so many problems I only managed to clock up 950 hours in the first 12 months. I did put a fair few on the string of demonstrators that came in when it was being fixed, though.
To be fair, our dealer, Scrutons, were brilliant and hopefully this new one will be better.
What’s your everyday transport?
A 2012 Isuzu D-Max, which I bought second-hand from York Van Centre.
It’s been brilliant – economical, comfy and smart enough to use as a car.
Best tractor you’ve ever had?
A 2000 JD 7710. It pulled like a train and sounded awesome, but it did love to drink fuel.
The steering was also a tad sensitive on the road.
We sold it on when it got to 6,500 hours, but I really wish we’d kept it.
It was replaced by a 6920, which was a bit more comfortable, but didn’t pull anywhere near as well.
Biggest machinery bargain?
The Kuhn rake – it paid for itself in a year and is still going strong.
Biggest myth to do with machinery?
That one brand is better than another. They aren’t. They all break down at some point and it’s the dealer backup that really matters.
What would you buy if you won the lottery?
The first thing I’d do is buy a third tractor. We manage with two, but it gets a bit hectic at busy times. Then I’d go looking for a 1,000ha block of arable land.
Any machinery toys/classics lurking in the shed?
A home-made go-cart, with a 5hp Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine. It goes brilliantly, but we are all a bit too heavy for it now. I’ve also got a Vauxhall Astra GTE road rally car that’s looking for a new home.