Catros & Cenius combo improve trafficability on Shropshire farm
It is now five and a half years ago since Gerry and Rachel Mee left the family farming partnership in Peterborough to form G & R Mee Partners, Charity Farm, Burlton, Shropshire. The business, which also includes three luxury holiday cottages, currently farms 750 acres of land across three main soil types: heavy clay, Newport sand, and peat. The cropping is all arable except for a few acres let out to potatoes each year and 90 acres which are being set aside for solar panels.
In spring 2015, and looking to make his cultivation system more efficient specifically with regard to improving weed control, Mr Mee had a demonstration of some Amazone cultivation kit via Pontesbury Tractors which resulted in G & R Mee Partners trading in their existing deep working tine and roller cultivator for a matching set of Amazone passive cultivators – a Catros 3001 compact disc harrow and a Cenius 3002 Super mulch cultivator. The Catros, with its twin row of overlap-adjustable 460mm diameter discs and following rubber-ringed wedge ring roller, was chosen for its shallow working ability and so offering the option of surface cultivation post-harvest. The Cenius Super, however, provides the farm with a three-row tined cultivator on approximately 27cm tine spacing, 3D auto-reset tines (with different points covering depths from 5-30cm), levelling discs and a consolidation/depth roller at the rear. The Cenius also offered them the opportunity to improve on the quality of straw/soil mix in comparison with the out-going system.
Using the Catros to do what it’s designed for best, Mr. Mee cultivates at a depth of just 4 cm to promote the rapid germination of weeds and volunteers, making them easier to manage both mechanically and chemically. Previously he had not been able to work effectively below 15 cm depth and so the weed seed bank was being constantly distributed over a wider and wider horizon. The ability to work this shallow with the Catros is made possible by the ease of adjusting the disc overlap to ensure that all the soil is moved at that depth as well as the 580 mm diameter wedge ring roller providing good reconsolidation and excellent seed/soil contact to maximise germination.
Looking to improve soil structure, Gerry and Rachel plan to chop and incorporate more straw to increase the amount of organic in the upper soil profile but still with the emphasis on not working any deeper than necessary. On the heavier clay soils they stay with the Catros for the secondary cultivations working at about 8-10 cm whereas the Cenius is used for deeper 12-15cm cultivations and for working deeper on their lighter soils where the smaller soil particle size can lead to more slumping and so drainage issues. The wide choice of share options, from a 350mm wide duck foot through to a narrow 40mm deep work share, makes the Cenius the ideal all-rounder for the cropping and soil types found at Charity Farm and the hydraulic depth control means that the machine can be set from the seat to ensure the correct depth for the amount of organic matter present as well as the soil type in that location. It is also good at renovating any structural problems found on the potato ground.
The main work horses on the farm are a Case Maxxum 130 CVX and a John Deere 6930 with both these being used to operate the cultivators. After twelve months of using the Amazone kit, Mr. Mee says that this spring the land has travelled much better due to the careful control of cultivation depth and so it is so far so good for the 3C kit at Charity Farm.