Case Studies

Cultivation flexibility is the key for the Harrisons

The Harrisons at Kilham, North Yorkshire have been farming at West End farm for over 40 years. Farming over 3,500 acres with an average field size of 36 - 40 acres on a variety of soils, ranging from medium loam over chalk to flinty land in parts of the Yorkshire Wolds at 500 ft amsl means that there is no 'one size fits all' policy when it comes to their cultivation techniques. Crops include first wheats, vining peas (for freezing), winter barley, potatoes and some OSR.

Although min-till practices are adopted where possible, the plough remains the cornerstone of their cultivation practices - usually accounting for about half of their cultivation, but more this year with the wet weather. Up until the end of 2009, they had a Gregoire Besson RB7 six furrow plough which they had owned since 2005. They decided to change it because their Fendt tractor was running on wide tyres; with a 16" furrow width, the plough was struggling to fill in the track marks the 650 tyres were leaving on the brows of hills. Paddling was leaving certain parts uneven, which was particularly a problem when doing vining peas. They were also getting a lot of tyre wear because they were ploughing in furrow. One field in particular was causing a lot of cutting into sidewalls. An on-land plough would help lessen this problem.

Apart from the issue with the tyres however, the Harrisons were very impressed with Gregoire Besson ploughs in general, having previously owned a 10 furrow SPEL used with a Case Magnum MX270. They swapped that 10 years ago for a 12 furrow SPEL as they still wanted an articulated plough for hills and contours. They did look at other models but found the SPEL to be the most flexible because it was the only one that could steer the back section round corners for road work. Also, it has got the greatest degree of articulation, at 45 degrees, so the rear section can be lifted at headlands. It is now used primarily with a Case 435 Quad Track, which is also used for min-till work.

They contacted Rob Immink of Gregoire Besson to enquire about an on-land, in-furrow plough. With a Fendt 933, they wanted to maximise output from the 300 horses plus at their disposal. Their timing could not have been better because Rob had recently got the new HRPC7 as a demonstrator. The new fully mounted on-land or in-furrow lightweight plough is suitable for tractors from 180hp to 360hp and is available with 5 to 7 furrows. It has manually variable width from 12 to 20" and has been designed to suit a wide range of tractors and soil conditions. Not only are the horsepower requirements relatively low, it can be used on-land for tractors with tracks or larger tyres or it can be used in-furrow for smaller tractors and in wet or heavy conditions. So impressed where they with it that they bought the demonstrator, becoming the first owners of the HRPC7 in the UK. One aspect that particularly appealed to them was that it can even be used in-furrow by their 180hp John Deere 7530. They keep to 10-12 kph and plough at 8-9" depth.

With the addition of one full time member of staff, father Richard and sons Jeremy and Patrick, drive and operate all the machinery rather than restricting themselves to certain tractors or pieces of kit, unlike some operations. This flexibility is further reflected in their choice of kit. For example, in February, the HRPC7 will be used to fill in the headlands with the Fendt 933 whilst the Quad Track and SPEL tackle the main field. They plough well together as both tractors use auto steer. Also, they can be drilling other crops while the barley land can be ploughed with the 7 furrow - maximising its productivity.

HRPC7The addition of the HRPC7 has meant that they can keep ploughing for more of the year. When it gets too wet to use their Vaderstadt Rexus twin press, instead of having to plough, power harrow and drill, the fact that the John Deere is capable of pulling the HRPC7 means that they can continue ploughing whilst the Quad Track is employed by the SPEL.

So nearly a year on, how has the new HRPC7 fared? Patrick comments, "It's a very flexible piece of kit. It can be changed from on land to in furrow within 5 mins via the hydraulic spool block. We only use Gregoire Besson genuine parts; we've already done over 1000 acres with it and in that time, we've only had to change the points - just 3 times, but the wings are still fine at moment. But it's not just the wear life, we find that genuine Besson parts fit better. We also like the single shear bolt system; if a bolt shears only the one in the ground goes and it is easy to replace."