Airstar Progress radically improves the look of family farm
Tim and Ann Vasey farm in partnership at Gritts Farm, Weaverthorpe, Malton and the land, which has been in the Vasey family for three generations, comprises of 190 ha of rolling Yorkshire wold land starting at 60m or so above sea level at the farmstead but rising to 120 m in just a couple of fields. Rainfall is a typical 800 mm distributed adequately throughout the year and the soil type is Andover Series chalk giving it, not only good drainage characteristics, but also excellent moisture retention as the chalk provides adequate soil moisture reserves in the early summer. Some of the lower areas down in the valley run into gravel. The soil structure of the farm makes for easy cultivation and 48 hours after any rain can see field work resumed.
The all-arable farm, which supplements its income with some off-farm contracting work using a Claas Quadrant square baler and by doing some hedge-cutting, plus takes in some grain for drying through a continuous flow drying system, runs with a fairly wide crop rotation of two winter wheats, winter barley and either spring barley or a cover crop with about 30 ha a year rented out to neighbours for potatoes which is normally drilled back into winter wheat. The spring barley is grown on a malting contract and yields are consistently around the 10 t/ha on wheat and 8 t/ha on barley.
Due to the enterprise being just a two-man team of husband and wife, it runs with a relatively tight tractor fleet of a main workhorse flagship, 190 horsepower, new JCB 4000 series as well as a New Holland 6050 and an MX170. Combining is also done in-house using a New Holland TX63. And on the cultivation front, the soil type and rotation lends itself to a plough and drill combi system and this has been the mainstay operation since pussy was a kitten ‘We started using a drill combination back in the late 80’s when we combined our existing trailed Massey Ferguson 30 conventional disc drill with an Amazone Typ 30 RE reciprocating harrow and steel packer roller, the drill being trailed along behind the reciprocating harrow on a bridge link and we continued with this system for a few years getting what we thought were good results,’ explains co-owner Tim Vasey. However a demonstration from long-standing local Amazone dealer, Wilfred Scruton Ltd, of one of the first of new Amazone Airstar Progress pneumatic drill combinations made the farm sit up and think, ‘I remember my father-in-law saying to us to get the machine bought as it will pay for itself in the first year and so we did buy one and it did!’
The farm has never looked back with that first drill combination going on the back of a brand-new Case International MX135 and consisted of a KE 302 power harrow with 500 mm steel packer roller and WS suffolk coulters with a front press on the tractor aiding the reconsolidation between the tractor wheels, a principle kept today. The seed is all bought in and, with the relatively short distances back to the farm and the lack of man-power and loading equipment available, the seed drill comes back to the farm to be refilled from 500 kg big bags.
To increase the output on the drill, the old original air drill was traded in for the bigger hoppered Airstar Profi in 2008 although the Vaseys stuck by the steel packer/suffolk coulter combination as found on the Progress and continued like this for a further 5 years. ‘We are now doing a bit of min-till work in the rotation as well where we use a compact disc harrow to work the top few inches and then drill in with the combination. This can help us control volunteers especially in the changeover from wheat to barley or where we have the cover crops,’ goes on to explain Mr. Vasey, ‘So after taking advice from Scrutons, we moved over to an AD-P Special with wedge ring roller and disc coulters, this time also going to the Roller harrow instead of the Exact harrow and what a difference – the unit is easier to pull, fuel consumption has dropped and the germination due to the matching up of the consolidation behind the wedges on the roller with the RoTeC disc coulters has improved dramatically, we should have done it years ago!’
Top dressing is also done on the farm with a ZA-M where they are also now on their second one ‘We had another make of spreader but that ending up rotting through and so we changed over to Amazone as this what we like about Amazone, as it is not only reliable kit but the paintwork is impeccable and the resale value exceptional and also we love the attitude of the company. Having visited Amazone’s factories on two occasions we find it well managed, well run, incredibly tidy and a workforce who love doing what they are doing, that typical German efficiency that makes for good equipment and that pays off for us here’ concludes Mr. Vasey.