In 1958, a new Ferguson 35 tractor was delivered to the Brown family farm, near Torrington, north Devon.
It was to be the first of a long line of Ferguson and, subsequently, Massey Ferguson machines to provide the necessary traction on this traditional dairy operation.
Today, the business is run by Edward Brown, together with his father, Michael. In January this year, the power line-up was further enhanced by the arrival of a new MF 6718S.
“We have around 230 acres here, all down to grass, and all devoted to running a dairy herd averaging 130 plus followers, keeping our own replacements and selling a few stores each year,” Edward explains. “We re-seed some of it each year, but always going back into grass.”
The Browns are clearly reluctant to fully retire the older members of the tractor fleet, and still retain the following models: MF 135, MF 165, MF 148, MF 168, MF 188, MF 590, MF 3085 and MF 6170.
The latest arrival, however, sets new standards of performance, economy and manoeuvrability. “It's very compact, responsive and versatile,” Edward reports. “It's the principal loader and field tractor, so the loader's coming off and going back on all the time. The MF 6718S is also very fuel efficient.
“The main tasks it performs include slurry tanking, muck spreading, ploughing prior to re-seeding and trailer work that we sometimes do for other people,” he says. “In fact, it does everything that we want it to and has been completely faultless so far.
Edward is particularly impressed with the new tractor's sheer versatility. “It has a really good turning circle and excellent all-round visibility,” he states. “The new Data-5 touch screen is a pleasure to use and having the ability to set up a separate profile for every implement or task is great.
“The SMS joystick is perfect for loader work and for buck-raking, where you can operate everything including forward and reverse, and every gear the tractor has.
“The multi-controller is also brilliant – you can set it up to do so many things, including lifting and lowering both mowers at the touch of one button.
“All the gears and forward/reverse can also be operated by the multi-controller, which I really like. In fact, the whole package is brilliant and I would not hesitate to put it up against any 180/200hp, six-cylinder tractor.”
But Edward is quick not to belittle the qualities of other farm faithfuls: “We don't forget that our MF 3085, which we bought in 1995, has now done coming up to 19,000 hours and hasn't put a foot wrong.”
In more recent years, the Browns have been buying their Massey Ferguson machines from the Alan Snow dealership, where their main point of contact is Alan Lake, at the company's Launceston depot, just over the county border in Cornwall.
“We cannot fault them,” Edward states. “We get on very well with all of them there and, from sales through to parts, they are always extremely helpful.