Intensive Farming Operation Requires High Output Machinery

Home Farm Nacton in Suffolk uses the 5.6m Major Cyclone to enhance overall field performance and maintain soil health for its intensive cropping operation.

“We are custodians of this very valuable farming land and it’s incumbent on us to ensure we maintain the health, the productivity and the environmental status of the soil,” says Andrew Williams, farm manager at Home Farm Nacton Ltd near Ipswich in Suffolk. Since taking over management in 1996, Andrew and his team have turned the operation into an intensive farming enterprise supplying produce to major supermarket chains throughout the UK. Over thirty different types of crops are farmed on some 4,800-acres of land along the Orwell Estuary.

“Because our land in general is so light, we can pretty much work it every day of the year,” continues Andrew. “We will often double-crop to maximise field performance, an example planting and harvesting vining peas during March to July followed by cauliflowers for the autumn and winter.”

For his work he was recognised as Farm Manager of the Year by Farm Business Magazine in 2019.

Early focus on organic produce

“We started focussing on organic production some twenty years ago and currently, around ten per cent of our acreage is under Soil Association organic certification,” added Andrew. “We constantly monitor future market demand for organically grown crops and we see this potentially increasing in the years ahead.”

In addition to certification by the Soil Association and LEAF, Home Farm Nacton Ltd. grows produce under the Red Tractor Assured Food Standards. It also holds many ‘quality’ food standards set by most of the UK’s premier supermarkets.

Maintaining soil health ensures the land remains productive throughout the year. “We grow lots of cover crops,” Andrew explains. “We sometimes use sheep to graze after harvesting field produce and regularly mow grass, clover, herb crops and stubbles to recycling valuable green manures. By retaining a high level of organic matter in our soils we are able to maximise yield while ensuring a healthy growing medium for now and into the future.”

Rotary style Cyclone outperforms flail mowers

Recycling crop residue and green manure requires intensive mowing practices. The farm relied on flail mowers for stubble management but the machines required high fuel consumption and maintenance costs. The flails were also unreliable and delivered a poor finish.

“Flail mowers need regular blade sharpening and the power requirements are significantly more for dull blades, which means great fuel consumption and less efficiency,” Andrew explains. “The rear roller bearings needed replacing regularly. Plus, you had belts, which in a high horsepower situation, are really not the best drive option.”

“We took a look at the Major Cyclone at the LAMMA Show and were really impressed with the build quality and the low power requirement,” enthuses Andrew. “The direct drive transmission meant doing away with belts and the promise of a much better finish to all kinds of crop stubble and grassland areas.”

Local dealer TNS offered a demonstration of the Major Cyclone in 5.6m working width on harvested cauliflower stubble. “We were really impressed with the excellent job it made,” Andrew adds approvingly. “It was a very clear choice to acquire the Major for our future operation because it does exactly what we want it to do.”

The 5.6m Major Cyclone comes with eight rotors and 34 blades, ensuring all material is pulverised and spread evenly across the length of the machine. The wings of the mower can fold up to a transport width of 2 metres. Constructed of high-performance Strenx™ 700 MC structural steel and fully galvanised, the mower is built for endurance, strength and longevity.

“Enhances overall field performance while saving at least twenty-five percent (25%) on fuel consumption”

“We are getting much higher output from the Major Cyclone,” added Andrew. “It covers twice the area compared to the flail in the same about of time, enhancing our overall field performance while saving at least twenty-five percent (25%) on fuel consumption.”

Cyclone blade system encourages faster regrowth

“A clear benefit to our operation is that the Cyclone pulverises whatever we throw at it and it spreads it very evenly without producing clumps of material,” Andrew points out. “That was one of the big failings of the flail mower, leaving uneven clumps behind wherever it went.”

“In our parsley crop, for example, we normally mow three times a year between harvests. The finish from the Cyclone encourages a faster regrowth. Likewise, we use the Cyclone for other maintenance applications throughout the farm from general field and woodland management to field corners and margins – it really is a versatile and trouble-free machine,” Andrew exclaims.

“Maintenance is very simple, just a regular greasing. The blades don’t seem to need sharpening anywhere near as much as the flail mower and yet it produces a much better job,” explains Andrew.

“It’s turned out to be a highly usable piece of machinery that helps us to maintain our goal of farming to the highest professional standard, maximising yields whilst maintaining, developing and enhancing the environment we operate in,” Andrew concludes.

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