Shannon Watmough is just starting out on her own farming journey. Since leaving school, the teenager has opted to embark on a career as an owner-operator, alongside her studies through Nottingham University to achieve a degree in agriculture and livestock production.
It’s a role that dovetails with her dad Steve’s plant hire business through the winter months, which can see her involved in hauling stone, sand and gravel to support his earthmoving work.
“I wanted to have more direct involvement in agriculture, and to be available for contract work that I could fit around my studies,” she says.
Based at Cottage Farm, Longford, near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, Shannon says she had previously been using an old International tractor, that was nearing ‘classic’ status.
“It was short of a lot of things, including power. So dad and I decided that to move forward, and take on a lot more work, we needed to invest in a premium quality, reliable tractor, that would be better suited to a wide variety of tasks,” she explains. “Top of my wish list was a 50kph transmission, a more comfortable cab, more power and a lot more versatility.”
“I also wanted a tractor that would be a sensible size to provide contract services for local farmers, but one that could also fit in with other contractors gangs, pulling their trailers at peak times during silage season.”
Her weapon of choice is an ex-demo Kubota M7151 supplied by local dealer JA Bloor Agricultural Services in April 2020 – coinciding with Shannon’s 18th birthday.
Complete with front linkage, the low-houred Premium specification tractor includes a powershift transmission and 7in touchscreen K-Monitor, where Shannon can fine-tune transmission settings and hydrualics, to make the most of fuel efficiency and productivity.
“It’s certainly turned a few heads,” she says. “The M7 is a tractor that draws attention because you don’t see that many of them around. And being out with silage gangs has made other tractor drivers stop and take a serious look at what the Kubota has to offer.”
Shannon says the cab is proving a great place to spend long days, with good comfort and convenience.
“I do like the four-post cab,” she says. “Visibility is great, and with a 20hp boost, there’s plenty of power. It’s a great performer with silage trailers too. And on-road, the transmission’s auto-shifting function also rewards with fuel efficiency.”
Shannon has added three additional orange LED strobes on the tractor’s front grille, to make the brightly-liveried tractor stand out to other road users, though she has yet to put the front linkage to use for anything other than a weight block.
“My experience is gradually increasing, and I’ve put on a few hundred hours on the tractor in my first year,” she says. “I’ve been out with a customer’s five-furrow Kverneland plough; been mowing with a trailed Taarup mower conditioner; and carried out hedge cutting too. And we’ve just bought a Bunning Lowlander muck spreader, to help the business to continue expanding.”