A late November open day at J Brock & Sons’ Thaxted, Essex base provided an opportunity to view a wide range of cultivation products in action. David Williams attended.
Second-hand machinery dealer, and cultivator and drill manufacturer J Brock & Sons has been looking after the needs of farmers across East Anglia and beyond for more than 40 years. New machinery includes TWB mole drainers and subsoilers and, in 2015, the company became the main UK importer for Czech-manufactured Farmet machinery including cultivators and drills.
Its own Brock AG range, manufactured at the Essex base, includes subsoilers and cultivators and, in 2015, development of its own tine drill began. At the 2016 autumn demonstration a prototype drill was seen working for the first time, using a frame and hopper recovered from a trade-in machine and, in 2017, a trial production version was shown, labelled the Brock AG Campaign drill with a host of exclusive features.
The heavy land farm which is Brock’s base is an ideal demonstration site, providing working conditions which are always challenging, whether wet or dry. At this year’s event the land was damp and sticky throughout the day, although the day’s weather started dry with persistent rain setting in from late afternoon. However, with so much machinery working well in the tricky conditions, potential customers remained in the field despite a biting cold wind.
“There was considerable interest in subsoilers, including new mounted models added to our own range,” explained director Philip Brock. “We also demonstrated the Farmet Fantom cultivator working with and without a rear packer, and a brand new Farmet Triton combination disc and tine cultivator with considerable appeal to those looking for both high work rates and effective soil and trash mixing. The Campaign drill has also had a few improvements as a result of on-going farm testing this year, and it attracted a great deal of interest.”
In warmer conditions indoors; a range of tools, parts and accessories was available to purchase at special prices and visitors took advantage of many deals on offer.
Brock’s Campaign drill, available in working widths up to 13.5m remains in development but was demonstrated at the event.
Updates during the past year include a revised seed and fertiliser metering layout. Previously seed and nutrients were fed into the airstream at different points; but now the two meters are back-to-back, and trials have proved successful at drilling rates of up to 250kg/ha each of seed and fertiliser, at up to 15kph, while also applying slug pellets and Avadex (tri-allate). “Introducing both products at a single venturi means there is no restriction to the flow,” explained Philip. The tine drill, with 150mm (6in) coulter spacing and vertical tines across 4 bars is designed to cope with wet conditions and the heaviest clay soils, but will also direct-drill when conditions are ideal.
The Campaign drill is pictured successfully planting winter wheat in the demonstration field during the afternoon, just prior to the heavy rain, following demonstrations by a wide range of different cultivators.
Socket sets, wrenches and cordless power tools were popular on the Draper stand. “One battery fits the range of tools which keeps the system simple and reduces costs,” explained Essex area sales representative Jonathan Brown.
“Brock is a good dealer for us and the dealer’s team is straightforward and friendly. It’s good to see so many farmers and contractors here today taking advantage of the special offers.”
Displayed working in the UK for the first time was the Farmet Triton primary cultivator.
With two rows of large 560mm discs followed by tines and a packer the combination cultivator achieved a very good standard of finish, impressing those watching it. Rear packer intensity can be reduced with weight transferred to the main wheels to leave an open tilth for over-winter.
New mounted versions have been added to Brock’s own subsoiler range. The trailed Sub-V, available in 4.5–8.0m working widths, is joined by 3.0 and 4.0m mounted folding models.
The Underburst 30/60 at the event had a shearbolt-protected, low-disturbance loosening leg and a Brock rear packer. “We didn’t previously have our own low-disturbance leg to offer, and there was only a toothed packer option for the Underburst,” explained Philip.
“The Sub-V deeper working subsoilers are now available in working widths from 3–8m and with increased options available. Mounted versions of the Sub-V are very competitively priced and we have had considerable interest in the 4m, 7-leg mounted folding version.”
Primary and secondary cultivations
“We needed a cultivator suitable for primary and secondary cultivations on a real mix of soils, from light to very heavy,” explained Anthony Wiseman, partner in Saffron Walden, Essex-based collaborative farming venture AWT.
“It also had to work effectively at a range of depths. A pre-production version of the Farmet Fantom was trialled in very poor working conditions. It performed well, and challenging conditions at the time reassured us it would work in any conditions we might need it to in future. Since it was purchased it’s worked in extremely dry, hard soils where other cultivators couldn’t penetrate and wet, sticky soils which brought others to a standstill.
“Back-up from Brocks is excellent and although our machine was pre-production; each time we provided feedback regarding performance, if changes were needed these were made within just a few days. We are very pleased with the product and the service.”
Another satisfied Fantom user is AV Simms & Son, based at St Albans. “We are farmers and contractors,” explained partner Geoff Simms. “There are limited options around 12m working width and we looked at several brands. We had a demonstration of the Fantom in 2017 and were impressed by its performance, and we also liked the build quality, features and competitive price.
“It was delivered this August and worked throughout the autumn, mainly on medium clay loams with lots of flint. It’s pulled by a Challenger 865 and has cultivated 1,200ha working direct on stubbles, with 120–150ha also receiving a second pass to achieve a finer seedbed. It’s done a great job and proved reliable, and when we next need cultivation equipment we will certainly look at Farmet again.”
Pictured with Geoff (centre) is Stuart Tait (right), who is the Fantom’s main user. “It does a really good job,” he said. “I’m impressed by its build quality, it’s reliable and solid and when it is dropped into the ground behind a high horsepower tractor there is no fear of anything breaking, even in tough conditions. Its work-rate is impressive too.”
Also pictured is machinery operator and current farm student Jake Gosney.
Kramp account manager Jolean Mason is pictured with product specialist Andy Ward and some of the company’s range of LED lights, which are proving popular. “Working lights in particular are in demand,” suggested Jolean. “Light bars provide superb illumination for field work and the range displayed created a great deal of interest.”
Andy said long, dark days and colder weather have increased demand for battery chargers and starter packs. “Adblue dispensers continue to be fast moving items,” he added. “Our latest nozzle prevents diesel being discharged into the Adblue tank using a simple safety valve and this is very popular currently at £295.48; considerably less expensive than having the Adblue tank and system professionally drained after mis-filling.”
Duratil weld-on edge facings and tips extend working life up to five times that of standard metal parts. That was the message from Brock Parts manager Peter Gilder who is pictured with a Duratil-tipped power harrow tine.
“Duratil parts are used to upgrade or replace standard components,” he said. “We have had a very successful year selling pattern replacement wearing parts for all brands of cultivator and drills, but we are also busy supplying genuine Sumo and Great Plains components, many of which we keep in stock.”