Gregoire Besson Blog

Welcome to the Gregoire Besson blog. Here we plan to post 'chatty' type comments about things that have caught our attention, have tickled us or, heaven forbid, got our dander up! Why not join in the discussion? It doesn't HAVE to be farming related, but try not to wander too far off topic.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Min till cultivation with many ‘small’ fields

The Wardman family have been farming around Redcar since the war. Their current business farms 5,700 acres, 4,300 of which are arable. Most of the land is medium to heavy. Crops include 2 wheats (50% milling), barley, OSR and more recently, oats. William Wardman has been reducing the amount of rape grown, particularly around urban fringes because pigeons are becoming increasingly difficult to control with shotgun or bangers.

William has been using min-till cultivation techniques for many years. He only ploughs on really wet years – with a 5 furrow Gregoire Besson RY7 – an auto-reset plough with hydraulic trip system because some areas are stony.

He is currently on his second Gregoire Besson Discordon. Prior to that, his previous cultivator was “doing the job” but he was unhappy with the uneven tilth.

Eight years ago William was considering a semi-mounted plough but then saw the new Heavy Duty Discordon at Cereals and requested a demo; his Caterpillar 875 (575hp) has ample power to meet the 400hp requirements of the Discordon. His first Discordon had the standard steel packer but opted for the auto-reset tines to cope with his stony land.

Because of the hours and acreage covered by William's equipment, his previous cultivator had to be scrapped after 3 years, but his first Discordon lasted 4 years and was then sold. William comments, “We have fields as large as 100 acres, but the average size is just 17 acres. These are spread out over 27 miles, so this means lots of headland turns and roadwork for our equipment – and that takes its toll. All our equipment has to be 'beefed up', but not the Discordon.”

When the Discordon was replaced 4 years ago, he went for a DXRV-HD. It has an uprated chassis as standard yet this time he opted for the new Emopak 745 rubber packer for improved consolidation and less smearing on sticky soils.

The Discordon is largely operated by Trevor Brown. It is used to incorporate FYM, rip out grassland and has even been used to reclaim scrubland, moorland and fallow that has not been ploughed since the war. Parts of the land have very steep hills but the Caterpillar and Discordon handle them with ease. But of course, the Discordon's primary purpose is as a one pass cultivator.

The consistency provided by the Discordon has allowed him to stabilise many contracts and Trevor would use nothing else. He insists on using genuine Gregoire Besson carbide parts. “The wings and tips may cost twice the price of locally manufactured ones, but they last more than double the time. When you consider the downtime, it's a false economy for us. Points cover around 1000 acres and wings about 1500 acres if not stone damaged - equating to just £2.45 an acre. Another saving over the previous cultivator has been in fuel use. Also, the auto-greasing system saves us about an hour a day.”

The large capacity of the 6m Discordon affords Trevor greater latitude. “If it's very wet, we don't necessarily need to plough, we can afford to wait for drier conditions because we can work 24 hours and cover a large amount of land quickly. And because the tilth is so good after cultivating in the dry and the seed beds so weatherproof, it doesn't matter how much it rains afterwards, we can go in and drill without any further cultivation. The combination of our Discordon and 6m Vaderstad drill has increased output by 80% on rape alone.”

William sums up, “We've definitely noticed an improvement in soil structure since using the Discordon; in fact we're going to back off a bit this year because it's almost 'too fine'.


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