Distance no object for MF's UK supply chain
For the past few months, a new Massey Ferguson 8727 S tractor has been turning heads, away from the stunning scenery of west Cornwall's coastline, as it gets to work at Brew Farm, Sennen Cove. It's England's most westerly-situated farming business – just a few stones' throws from Land's End – extending to around 1,000 acres, on soils that range from light sand to a very heavy clay.
This outpost of British agriculture is run by Adrian Semmens, together with his wife, Ann, and daughter, Emma. It started out as one farm of 100 acres, with nine further holdings amalgamated over the years, a process started by Adrian's grandfather in 1911. Today, Brew Farm supports a 200-strong dairy herd, milked by three robots, for which maize and cereals are grown as feed. Potato, cauliflower and parsnip production also make an additional contribution to the business.
The 8727 replaced a 7620, so what brought about the decision to go for an extra 50hp? Adrian explains: “We had taken on some extra land, some of it quite steep, so it looked like we were going to need more power – for the triple mowers, the six-furrow plough, which is a 3-metre, and the fertiliser spreader. The 7620 was fine on the more level fields, but we now have a tractor that can handle the steeper ground with ease.”
Other Massey Ferguson models in Adrian's line-up also have their allotted tasks. “We've got a MF 6714, which we've had for about 18 months, which is used for secondary cultivations and transport, a 5455 that works with the diet feeder and does some of the field work, such as silage, and a 1547 for yard work, which clocks up around 800 hours a year,” he says.
Another, smaller MF machine can sometimes be spotted performing a valuable local service on the beach at Sennen Cove – helping to launch and pull ashore a bevy of small fishing vessels that are so characteristic of this part of the country.
With the exception of a couple of short spells of experimentation – with a JCB Fast-Trac and a Valmet – the business has relied on Massey Ferguson tractors for more than 60 years.
Returning to the latest addition to the fleet, Adrian has been particularly impressed by the 8727's work rate capability. “We get more done in fewer hours than we have in the past,” he states. “On the grass, for example, we can get through 30 acres in an hour, while with the plough we've found we can get through 5 acres an hour. This is quite important, as it has a significant effect on the tractor's residual value when the time comes.”
Creature comforts and ease of operation were important considerations when it came to specification. “We decided to go for the four-point suspension, a better seat than we'd had in the past, better heating, auto-steer, LED lights, 5-tonne front linkage and section control on the sprayer. Thinking of the future, really,” he states.
“On the other hand, technological progress can be a double-edged sword in some ways, and I would say we are still getting to grips with the different pre-settings for each operator.”
Adrian's 'local' Massey Ferguson dealership is the Truro depot of Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers – some 35 miles distant – where his main point of contact is Colin Tucker. “We've been with them virtually since they started, and have bought all our MF equipment from them,” he says. “They have always had a 'can-do' attitude which serves us well and forms the basis of a very good relationship.”