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Cousins working together on our family owned farm with the aim of running a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity. Brian is said to be the farmer and conservationist, whereas Patrick is a conservationist and farmer. This mix has given a new direction for the farm, building upon the work that our fathers and grandfather has done to improve the overall success of the farm business. The farm has gone from strength to strength with the farm being recognised at a national level winning the coveted National FWAG’s Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation in 2009 and then Patrick and Brian were named Countryside Farmer of the Year by the Farmers Weekly in 2010.

Monday, 19 December 2011

John Deere 6430 Tractor

Driver: John Leggett during the spring and myself during the cultivations.  It is our jump-on-and-drive tractor, so even the senior generation on the farm can drive it without worrying about any computers or too many buttons to press!
Visual Description: The John Deere livery of distinctive dark green and yellow. It is a small compact tractor that is light, nimble and speedy.
Size: This is our smallest work horse on the farm, it has 110Hp with a power boost when needed to give it an extra 15Hp if we are pulling heavy trailers or using the PTO, which is the power take off; this is the system that transfers movement through a shaft from the tractor into any implement that requires powered movement of parts e.g. makes the blades rotate on the mower mounted behind the tractor.    
Weight:  When we looked for a replacement for our old tractor that did similar jobs, I wanted a tractor that was as light as I could justify without losing its capability to lift and pull certain implements that may be needed. The 6430 is considerably lighter that the Challenger and the Fendt , but still has good pulling power when we need it. We wanted it as light as possible as it would be covering the land at critical times of year when soil compaction could easily be caused e.g. fertiliser spreading in early spring after wet winters and rolling after drilling.

Controls: The controls of the John Deere are much more traditional, a gear box with range selected by the driver on a standard ‘H’ like a car but within each gear selected it has an added four levels to select or you can ask the tractor to select the most efficient of the four by a button called Auto Power.  With the latter, it slips up and down the range automatically depending on the strain on the engine.    
Cost: The 6430 is not a premium size or a very high spec tractor like the Fendt but even with the exchange of our other old John Deere, we still had to pay £28,000 to change. We also have accessorised it with some new wheels and tyres. Tyre technology has dramatically improved and they are a very important part of the tractor, as they are needed to transfer its power on to the ground to move it forward but also they need to be sympathetic to the soil as we do not want to damage the soil through compaction as it is expensive to restore. The traditional tyre has a ridged wall, high air pressure and they spread the weight by being very wide, so creating a large footprint but the new tyres we bought have a soft wall, very low pressure and are not so wide, making it safer on the road. The clever bit is that by having soft walls and low pressure, the tyre bellows out and flexes to increase the amount of tyre in contact with the ground and so the footprint increases. They only run at 6-7psi pressure and look flat as the wall rolls out so much but they are spreading the weight of the tractor very well and you don’t leave a rut or mark on the field.        
Jobs it does on the farm: This tractor does all the light work, firstly in the year it rolls the whole farm after the drill to press the seed into the soil, then it will cover the farm 3 or 4 times spreading fertiliser. In the summer it does all the mowing, teddering, and raking of the hay crop and also the flailing of the grass with the large 6m topper but is has the ability to pull our 14T grain trailer if needed. It is a very useful tractor and a lovely size for the range of jobs it does, we would certainly not be without a tractor of this size as it fits so well into our farming approach of using the correct size tractor for the specific jobs that are needed to be done throughout the year. We record all our fuel usage into every tractor so we know when tractors are efficient in fuel intake for every job they do.   

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