Trading as A Bramley, Alistair Bramley, and his son Charlie farm at Thornton, near York.
Arable crops on the mixed farming enterprise are mostly cereals, as well as potatoes on land rented to a local producer. Pigs are fattened on a bed-and-breakfast contract, and a successful agricultural contracting operation is managed by Charlie, sharing machinery owned by the farm. Alistair’s agricultural career started as a dealer engineer in the late 1970s, and he still offers agricultural engineering services and machinery servicing from his workshop on the farm.
Peacock & Binnington represents Massey Ferguson in the area, and Alistair said the service from the Selby depot team is exceptional. “The Director and Branch Sales Manager, Marcus Bourne is our first point of contact. When we discuss buying anything then we always feel he works with us to find the best solution. He understands us and our business, and whether we are buying a new tractor or just some farm sundries – he always comes back to us with an answer, and even drops parts in that we have ordered if he’s passing.”
Unsurprisingly, the main tractor fleet is Massey Ferguson. A 5711 with an FL4121 front loader does the yard work including mucking out and bale handling, and a low-hour 6616 was recently supplied by the dealer to replace a 6480 and will perform a variety of tasks including spraying and fertiliser applications. The main tractor is a brand new 8S.225 which arrived in early March, and it replaced a 7720 which was owned for five years.
The 8S.225 Dyna-7 Efficient replaced a Massey Ferguson 7720 and will be used for cultivations, transport tasks and manure spreading.
8S had immediate appeal
“As soon as we saw the new 8S-series advertised we liked the look of the design, and when we saw one on the road a few months later we both commented on the striking styling and large cab,” explained Charlie. “Our MF 7720 was due to be updated, so we spoke with Marcus Bourne and requested a demonstration.”
The 8S-series tractor was trialled for two days during which its performance and comfort impressed both users. The demonstration tractor had the higher Exclusive specification which includes electronic hydraulic spools as well as advanced precision farming applications as standard.
“We both really liked the 8S but agreed that the Exclusive specification included more functions than we needed. We prefer simple, mechanical hydraulic controls with knobs, buttons and levers and find them easier and quicker to operate than digital sliders on a screen. The Efficient specification still comes with a high level of equipment, including everything we consider essential and more besides,” Charlie continued. “GPS guidance and autosteer is something we’ve been thinking about for some time, and the 8S Efficient tractors come MF Guide-ready. If we decide to invest in guidance in future, then we only need a GPS receiver and it will be ready to use.”
More power, and more efficient
The 8S.225 Dyna-7 Efficient was delivered in early March this year. In its first two months on the farm, it worked with a 5f reversible vari-width plough, a 4m power harrow drill combination and a 10t Richard Western Delilah rear-discharge manure spreader.
“We requested a price for an 8S.205, with a similar power output to our previous 7720, but Marcus pointed out that the trend towards larger machinery and wider working widths is continuing, so upgrading to the 8S.225 with an extra 20hp would be a better option. There wasn’t a big price difference, so we took his advice and remain pleased with our decision. The extra power and torque are noticeable, but we have been surprised by the fuel consumption which is significantly lower.”
The previous tractor’s Dyna-6 transmission performed well, but Alistair said that the new Dyna-7 system with 28 forward and reverse speeds in four ranges and seven seamless gears is much smoother. “The extra gear means ratios are closer spaced, and changes are smoother and more progressive in both manual and automatic operating modes. The Multipad Control joystick is excellent – gently pushing it forward or back changes gears one at a time, and pushing it further changes two at a time for faster acceleration which is a real advantage on the road.” he said. “The clutch action of our previous tractor was good, but the 8S.225 clutch is lighter and more progressive. It’s almost impossible to make it jerk at any speed or in any gear.”
Comfortable and quiet
Charlie commented that the superb all-around vision, and quiet, comfortable cab mean that even after long days in the seat, he rarely feels tired. “The view from the seat is fantastic, and the tapered, angled bonnet reduces reflection and sun glare which can be an issue when working into the evening on other tractors. A clear view of the two front wheels makes it easy to identify wet spots, so I can decide where to run the front wheels to avoid making a mess. The controls are very well designed, and the new digital dashboard on the front corner post is clear and easy to set up and use.”
The 6-cylinder, 7.4-litre engine with up to 245hp and 1,080Nm of torque quickly impressed the Bramleys. “Friends on local farms use tractors of other brands, and I know that nothing matches the 8S.225 for its efficiency and performance,” stressed Charlie. “The engine develops so much torque that we did all the drilling with the PTO in 1,000 Eco operating mode even though soils in the area are mainly heavy clay. It pulls well too. We can get up to 18t of manure in the spreader when we load and apply it in the same field, and the new tractor pulls it easily without fuss.
“Since it arrived, we have seen a significant reduction in fuel use – sometimes saving up to 50 litres per day,” he added. “That’s important when prices are so high.”
For part of the spring drilling season, a GPS receiver was borrowed from the dealer so that MF Guide could be trialled. Alistair said that trusting the system to look after the steering seemed strange at first, but as crops emerged a few weeks later, the benefits became obvious as it was hard to locate joints between bouts due to the precise row spacing. “The 8S.225 Efficient gives us an ideal opportunity to invest in a guidance system of our own when we feel ready, and as well as optimising our field work accuracy it will reduce operator fatigue during the busy drilling period,” he added.
Other features included on the 8S.225 Efficient include Speedsteer variable rate steering, and Charlie said this helped when ploughing as it reduced operator effort and improved timeliness during headland turns. Automatic headland management is also available when GPS guidance is installed, and Charlie believes that this could offer additional advantages, although Alistair prefers manual control.
The right tractor
“We would definitely go for the same tractor again,” Charlie confirmed. “The ride comfort is exceptional, and when spreading manure at 25kph, I’m sure I could hold a cup full of liquid and not spill a drop. We are occasionally approached by dealers promoting their competitor brands, but I can’t see any reason to change.”
Alistair agrees. “Massey Ferguson has a long history of designing tractors for every sector and situation, and the 8S.225 Dyna-7 Efficient is the best yet and will suit us well.”