When you’re covering potato ground up to sixteen times a year, applying liquid fertiliser and chemicals, it pays to make the right choice in crop-care machinery. Bemand Bros, Great House Farm, just outside Leominster, Herefordshire, farm some 1200 acres, of which 800 acres are down to arable cropping, including - potatoes, winter wheat, oil seed rape, winter barley, spring barley, winter beans and fodder beet. The remainder is mainly permanent pasture on which they run a herd of beef fatteners and a flock of Suffolk cross ewes.
The farming enterprise is run by Ken & Bob Bemand and Ken’s sons Stuart and Joff. Three years ago they traded-in their old Bateman and bought a John Deere 4040i self-propelled sprayer from TAG Leominster. They specified a 24m boom and a complete integrated solutions specification running their GPS controlled AutoTrac system, through GreenStar via an RTK sourced signal. Ken Bemand is the main sprayer operator. “We decided to standardise on all John Deere,” said Ken, “because we’ve always had great support and back-up from TAG and, the GPS system integrates through all of our John Deere machines, the sprayer, the tractors and the combine. We can even transfer screens from one machine to another in a matter of minutes. The big operator benefit is that no matter which machine we drive, the screen controls are identical throughout, which makes it much easier to understand and get the best from the integrated solutions.”
By going all liquid fertiliser and crop-care chemicals, Ken can swap from one product to the other and doesn’t need to use a separate granular fertiliser spreader - it’s all done with the sprayer. “We have five different nozzles integrated into the boom,” added Ken, “so we can quickly switch from either the liquid fertiliser or the chemical nozzle and it doesn’t tie-up a loader tractor, instead we just move a bowser for liquid fertiliser to the field and the sprayer does the rest.”
Despite some difficult banks and side-land at Great House Farm, stability has proven to be a key benefit with the John Deere R4040i and as Ken explains, “We can easily adjust wheel width from the cab, in a matter of minutes - it’s that easy. Potato work is a narrow setting at seventy-two inches (72in) and the rest of our arable tramline system is based on ninety two inches. The booms are super strong and we’ve never had to repair them like previous machines. Likewise, the ‘Autofill’ system is far superior to anything else we have used and the cleaning process is very effective. It’s a true operator’s machine that makes it a pleasure to use. After having experienced the comfort in the cab, with the air bags, I don’t want to go back to tractor-driving!” he said.
Fitted with John Deere’s latest SF6000 receiver, the R4040i brings accuracy to crop-care like never before. Commented Stuart Bemand, “We save a lot by avoiding wastage of chemical because we avoid overlapping and the section control means we can automatically cut-off when working on unevenly shaped fields. Imagine a four percent overlap lost on every pass in every field or due to uneven field shape. On a twenty acre field, that could add up to a lot of wasted product. That’s otherwise lost margin.” Added Joff Bemand, “We’ve actually been saving enough chemical that we often return it because of the efficiency of the sprayer and the precision farming system. That relates not only to chemical, but also to seed and fertiliser. We’re on a real winner with this technology. Concluding, Ken added, “It’s taken us a couple of years to really embrace this new technology with the capabilities of the sprayer and now that we are experienced at getting the best from the equipment, and utilising the expertise of the specialists at TAG, we can clearly see that we have definitely made the right decision.”