Timing of tasks key to success, says 99 winner
This years Tractor Driver of
the Year Competition is
looming. Andy Moore visited
1999 winner, John Ruston, to
see if he had any advice to
offer this years contenders
IT took John Ruston five attempts to win the Tractor Driver of the Year Award, proving that perseverance is not without its rewards.
"Practice makes perfect," he muses. "Having made it to the semi-finals four times before, I knew I would eventually get through to the finals."
Mr Ruston, who is employed by Birdsall Beef Estates, near Malton, North Yorks, believes that success in the semi-finals is all to do with timing each of the 13 minute tasks carefully.
"I ran out of time during the first couple of attempts, but in the last two I had time to spare. This experience helped me win the final," he says.
Another key element in the success stakes, he says,is to prepare thoroughly for the competition. His training for the final involved contacting six local dealers and negotiating test drives on the machines he expected to be tested on.
At the Silsoe final itself, it was the ATV task which proved to be the most challenging. His only knowledge of such machines derived from one of the dealer test drives. The finals ploughing task also tested the nerves "I had not turned a furrow for over 18 years," he says. "But I managed to set the plough up correctly and produce a few decent furrows."
Relief came when it was time for the materials handling exercise because Mr Ruston uses a JCB telehandler to muck out a 2500 head beef herd on his employers estate throughout the winter.
He was also well prepared for the fertiliser spreading task because Mr Ruston operates an Amazone spreader to apply fertiliser to over 364ha (900acres) of cereals a year.
How did he react when his success in the competition was announced? "I was thrilled – it is a real once-in-a-lifetime achievement," says Mr Ruston.
"I would strongly recommend most people with varying levels of skill to have a go at the competition, it is not as difficult as it looks."
lTo enter this years contest see farmers weeklys May 5 issue for details. This year, it could be you! *
Meticulous training methods coupled with over 20 years of on-farm experience enabled John Ruston to win the Tractor Driver of the Year Award last year.
Mr Ruston has honed his telehandler driving skills using a JCB machine.