Farmer’s book explores the history of combine harvesters

Farmer and contractor Alan Tunstall has released a book giving a comprehensive look at the history, makes and models of combine harvesters.

Reaping the Rewards spans six decades of farm machinery, featuring brands including Claas and Massey Ferguson – as well as Alan’s own farming journey and love of machinery, which began on his family farm near Derby, where he returned to work full time in 1959.

John Alan Tunstall, known to everyone as Alan is the son of a dairy farmer and has an “encyclopaedic knowledge” of makes and models of combines, as well as over sixty years of experience driving in various conditions. It was this that prompted many people to encourage him to write a book on his experiences. 

Alan grew up on the 74-acre Carr Farm in Denby Village, near Derby, after his father took on the tenancy there – the family had been forced to leave the previous farm due to the construction of an airfield for the WW2 effort.

Driving tractors from an early age, what Alan most enjoyed was arable work and he began to work full time on the mixed farm after leaving grammar school. 

He shares his long farming journey, starting with his early experiences on the farm in the 40s and 50s, when it grew wheat and oats often sown with some peas. Back then seed was sown with an old Massey drill on steel wheels and a person was required to ride on the drill to put it in and out of gear. Crop sprays were not used but Alan’s father broadcasted some material to kill charlock by hand – which Alan notes must have been very unhealthy for his lungs.

In the early 60s he decided he wanted to do some contracting and they bought a New Holland Hayliner 68 baler – which he says was a very good machine – to pair with the farm’s Fordson Major Diesel tractor, which allowed him to do around 30,000 bales in a good year. 

The book charts Alan’s first trailed combine, a Massey Harris 750, through to the beginning of his self-propelled era in the late 60s, leading into the start of a decades-long period of Claas ownership which began with the Claas Protector in 1974. It describes Alan’s personal journey in farming, as well as a detailed exploration of combine harvester makes and models and the changing ways of agriculture and machinery through the decades.

To order a copy (£18 including P&P), get in touch with Alan directly on 07973308287 or

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