When Jamie Temple returned to the family farm in 2011, he looked at ways to boost operational efficiency, and it soon started with the arrival of a 135hp Kubota M135GX tractor.
“We needed to be more efficient in what we did, and that meant speeding up field work so we could find more time to focus on other aspects of the business,” explains Jamie, of Plum Park Farm, near Towcester, Northants.
“And the best way forward was to have a bit more horsepower at our disposal.”
Trading as BR & DM Temple & Son, Plum Park Farm operates across 100ha of grassland. The farm carries a 160-head flock of mule ewes, a herd of Longhorn cattle and a pedigree flock of Jacob sheep – the latter are slow maturing meat breeds, renowned for richer flavour and greater marbling.
The Temple family’s diverse farming operation also extends to a riding school, 25-stable livery yard, cross country chase and the Farmers Bloodhounds – the latter are under the guidance of Jamie’s father, senior master and huntsman Brian Temple, who is a time-served farrier. The farm is also home to Towcester Veterinary Centre.
“With the amount of livestock on the farm on a year-round basis, we do put a lot of effort into producing high quality hay and haylage,” says Jamie. “And to make more use of good weather, we’ve been gradually changing our machinery over the last few years so we can be more productive and make better use of our higher powered Kubota tractor.”
“For example, by mowing more acres in less time, the crop can take greater advantage of summer weather conditions and we can then bale and wrap in a much shorter time-frame, to seal in the goodness,” he adds.
The farm chooses to mow only what it can handle on a daily basis, rather than knocking down all its grass in one go and then dealing with an intense workload.
“If the weather worsens, we can limit our losses,” explains Brian Temple. “And on hotter days, working with small acreages means we can manage forage quality and bale before the crop gets too dry.”
The farm’s M135GX arrived in 2015. Supplied by local dealer Browns Agricultural Machinery, it replaced an ME9000 and joins an older M105S that is fitted with a Quicke Q30 loader.
Key tasks for the M135GX include mowing, raking and round baling – the latter accounting for 200 bales of hay, 1,000 bales of haylage and 300 bales of oat straw last season.
“The switch to a variable chamber baler complete with grass chopping rotor means we can make the most of the tractor’s performance,” says Jamie. “While output is held back by small fields, typically two to 25 acres, we can easily make 60 bales/hour.”
Having recently swapped its single rotor rake for a twin rotor version as part of its machinery upgrades, the farm is now looking for a larger tedder, and is considering replacing its 2.4m mower conditioner with a wider model.
“It doesn’t matter what fieldwork we carry out, we are now much more productive than before,” he says. “And the M135GX is a comfortable and easy tractor to use for almost any task.”
It is a view shared by Jamie’s father, Brian Temple: “While we don’t do a lot of hours, we do demand reliability – the M105S is used every day, mostly feeding livestock, and in its 10-years on the farm, it has only needed a battery.”
Regular servicing has been key to maintaining high levels of reliability, but as Brian Temple explains, mechanical simplicity remains a key factor for the business: “There are no complex electronics on these tractors, and that means lower owning and operating costs,” he says. “And we can fix most things ourselves.”
Brian adds that the newer tractor also offers a much higher level of comfort, and is a better place to spend long working days, though he had his reservations about the move to a higher-powered four-cylinder engine.
“I have been pleasantly surprised,” says Brian. “It’s a gutsy engine, and it does hang on. And the tight turning circle from portal axles means the tractor is not big or clumsy around the yard and buildings. Both our Kubota tractors have proved exceptional value for money, and as a long-term proposition, they will be hard to beat.”