Variable chamber baler suits farm logistics.
For the Heady family based on the southern edge of Milton Keynes, the ability to be self-sufficient with machinery is a vital part of the farm’s efficiency drive.
“We have to be pragmatic with machinery purchases, to make the most of productivity and efficiency,” explains Richard Heady, who runs the 1,000-acre mixed farming operation with his dad John, and his uncle, Brian, encompassing Newlands Farm and Borough Farm.
“Rather than employ contractors, we choose to do all the work ourselves, which does help to keep a lid on production costs,” he says. “But it can also mean making the most of much older machinery too, where the workload is too small to justify new kit.”
Richard uses social media to promote farming to the public, to dispel myths and also to educate about farming practices. Using the twitter handle ‘@headysfarm’ and instagram user name ‘@headys_farm,’ he has produced many informative videos including advice on how to cross a field full of cows. He is also a finalist in the 2019 British Farming Awards, in the category of digital innovator of the year.
Farming on the edge of Milton Keynes, WF Heady grows 700 acres of combinable crops, with 250 acres of grass grown to support 300 beef cattle and a 70-head flock of sheep.
It’s an area that poses constant challenges from the urban fringe, but it also creates opportunities. The latter includes positive engagement with members of the public from the local community.
“We need the public to buy British produce, and to do that, we need them to understand and value what we do in the countryside,” he adds. “And that means taking the time and the opportunity to educate.”
A fourth-generation farmer, Richard says diesel, labour and machinery costs are at the forefront of everything the farm does, and investing in new machinery is based on reliability, and the local dealer’s ability to support his business.
“We recently bought a new Kubota BV5160 round baler from Browns, after another machine’s constant failures prompted an early rethink,” he says. “That was three years ago, and now with almost 10,000 bales on the counter, we’re extremely pleased with its performance.”
Each season, the farm produces just over 3,000 bales, comprising grass silage, hay and straw. Bale sizes and density are varied, to suit storage and logistics, and with a drop-floor and 14-knife crop chopping system, he and baler operator Trevor King, say bales are easy to rehandle and distribute.
“These bales don’t sag,” says Trevor. “They’ll stand a fair bit of handling too.”
The farm makes the most of storage by stacking straw bales on top of clamped silage, to enjoy under-cover storage. The clamp’s sheet is first covered with a layer of conventional bales, with the round straw bales then placed, and pushed over the top.
“They slide well, and stacked in two layers, help with consolidation. As both straw and silage are used in equal measure, it makes sense to keep them together,” he says. “It’s all about making the most of what you have. And based on the service and support we’ve had from our dealer, we’ll look more seriously at a Kubota tractor next time, too.”