Cultivator and drill demonstration proves popular with potential buyers

Relentless wet weather gave way to a few drier days in mid-March, creating workable conditions for an Oliver Landpower Ltd demonstration of Sumo drills and cultivators, and JCB Fastracs. David Williams was there.

Oliver Landpower demonstration

The working day, near Royston, Herts, featured many of the current Sumo products from intensive deep working cultivators including the Quatro to the latest Vaxio model designed for shallow but intense soil movement.

Drills included the DTS Strip-Till drill with a leading tine, and the DD Direct Drill which is currently creating considerable interest due to its ability to establish crops with significantly less soil movement, and grants currently available.

The LDS Low Disturbance Subsoiler was also in action.

Latest controls

As well as the Sumo machinery, the demonstration provided an opportunity for visitors to experience the latest JCB Fastrac 4000- and 8000- series tractors, all with the new user-friendly iCON control system. This allows operators to adapt the controls to suit their preferences for different tasks through configurable buttons and switches, while also allowing seamless swapping between hand and foot controls during work.

Successful event

Oliver Landpower Sumo working day
The event included seminars from Ceres Rural and Oakbank Game & Conservation.

Oliver Landpower marketing manager, Alex Way said he was very pleased with the Sumo Working Cultivation Day. “Fortunately, the weather came good for us on the day, and encouraged many customers to attend who were genuinely interested in the product ranges on offer. It’s fair to say that most seemed very impressed by the results the machines achieved in the field. We would like to thank Sumo for working with us to achieve the successful event, the JCB team for their support, as well as Oakbank and Ceres Rural for arranging the seminars which attracted considerable interest.

“The cultivator that generated most enquiries on the day was the Sumo Vaxio, as customers were impressed that it performed so well considering the marginal conditions.”

Choose the right drill

The Sumo DTS Strip-Till drill creates ideal conditions for seed germination and growth within narrow seed row bands, while leaving the rest of the surface undisturbed. Grant availability has increased interest in direct drilling techniques, but Sumo export sales manager Rob Shepherd stressed to Farmers Guide that the soil structure must be suitable for the technique to succeed. “If the soil isn’t ready, then we recommend our DTS drill with a leading tine instead, to operate direct into stubbles where conditions are favourable, but which will also drill successfully into ploughed and pre-cultivated ground.

“It is extremely versatile and will complement the soil improvement process,” Rob explains to demonstration visitors about the DD drill.

Sumo working day
Sumo working day

High-speed, shallow cultivations


The Vaxio cultivator is a high-intensity, high-speed, min-tillage cultivator which loosens, levels and consolidates in one pass. The working elements include front discs, heavy-duty spring-loaded tines and hydraulically adjusted levelling paddles and a packer roller at the rear.

The LDS subsoiler achieves intensive soil loosening at depth while keeping movement at the surface to a minimum. It performed well and impressed farmers and contractors who saw it operating in the challenging conditions.

Versatile Fastrac

Sumo working demo day
Pictured (l-r) Oliver Landpower area sales manager Michael Payne, with Philip Eddy, Mark Suddaby and Elly Eddy, all from the TB Fairey team.

Members of the TB Fairey & Sons Ltd team based at Linton were at the demonstration. The farm uses a 2021 JCB Fastrac 4220 supplied by Oliver Landpower. Other machinery supplied by Olivers includes a pick-up truck and a combine. “The back-up is brilliant, I just can’t fault it,” stressed JCB operator, Philip Eddy.

Philip said that the Fastrac performs a wide variety of tasks including cultivations, rolling, hedge cutting, drilling, fertiliser applications and trailer work, and he describes it as comfortable and very versatile. “I tried the new iCON and thought it was a big improvement on the previous system. They are excellent tractors, and when our JCB is due for updating then I’m sure it will be replaced by the newer model.”

Buckinghamshire farm

Sumo demo working day

Harry Fulham and Melissa Fry travelled up from Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Harry is machinery operator for farmers W. J. & M. Mash, and he uses a 2012 Sumo Trio subsoiler. “It’s still as good as new, and the original discs were replaced only last year, even though our soils have a high flint content,” he said. “We are looking for a solution to cut through trash including heavy pea stubble ahead of the cultivation legs to reduce blockages, and that could involve upgrading the Trio or moving to something like the Quatro instead.”

Soil loosening

Sumo demo working day
Pictured are JCB agricultural demonstrator & fleet coordinator, Guy Sutton, Richard and Sam Duchesne, and JCB sales engineer, Peter Williams.

Suffolk-based farmer and contractor, Richard Duchesne attended with his son, Sam. “Our Fastrac 4220 iCON has clocked up more than 1,000 hours since it arrived last year, and we remain very impressed,” commented Sam. “As one of our main two tractors it performs the full range of tasks throughout the year, although we hire in one higher horsepower tractor for heavy cultivations during autumn.

“Following the wet winter, we believe that there is a need for soil loosening this spring, particularly on some headlands. We have grassland for grazing and haylage, and that needs subsoiling too. The ideal solution will be a low-disturbance soil loosener suitable for both arable land and grass, so we were keen to see how the LDS subsoiler performs.

“Availability through Olivers is an advantage, particularly since the new depot at Colchester opened this time last year. We knew many of the Colchester-based team before they transferred from other local dealers, and they are always keen to help.”

Simple system

Sumo working demo day
Pictured (l-r) Steve Clark, Tom Coxall, Oliver Landpower representatives Kevin Ludgate and Tom Coats, and Marcus Boniface.

Suffolk-based Exning Estate farm manager, Marcus Boniface attended the demonstration with machinery operator, Steve Clark. “We keep our crop establishment as simple as possible, and two Sumo LDS subsoilers perform all pre-cultivations ahead of seeding by direct drilling,” he explained. “Our usual rotation includes winter oats, winter barley, winter wheat and spring barley. Spring barley land is prepared by the LDS in the autumn ahead of direct drilling in the spring, although after this winter’s rain additional light cultivations might be needed. This year we will be planting spring linseed into stubbles from cover crops which were grazed off by sheep and will use the Sumo LDS for these too. The straightforward system works well.”

The estate also has a GLS low-disturbance grassland subsoiler. “We have a lot of grass for equine activities, and it helps relieve sub-surface compaction to let moisture get away without causing too much damage on top.”

Other machinery from Olivers includes a JCB Loadall. “We tend to deal mainly with Tom Coats and find the back-up from all the depots very good,” Marcus concluded.

Tom Coxall of 5 Counties Contracting Ltd was interested in the latest Quatro. “Our elderly 5m model performs primary cultivations on cereal and sugar beet stubbles, but the latest model with hydraulic adjustment of the working components from the tractor seat is very attractive,” he said. “Sumo build quality is good, and we deal with both sides of the Olivers business and find the service excellent.”

Large contracting operation

Demonstration visitors included Neil and his son, Charlie Byford T/A Byford Farm Services along with contract shepherdess Olivia Abrey and her puppy, ‘Goose’, and Oliver Landpower representative, Michael Payne.

Oliver Landpower Sumo working demo day
Members of the Oliver Landpower and Sumo teams at the event: (l-r) Ollie Bickerdike, Philip Stephenson, Lewis Pearce, James Sweeting, Frankie Chalcraft, Rob Shepherd, Steve Ridley, Adrian Hewis, Tom Coats, Will Cooper, George Long, Michael Payne, Mark Shelley, Clare Kennedy and Ed Garner.

The Byfords have four JCB Fastracs; three 4220s and a 2170, plus a JCB Loadall. “We have a family farm and provide contracting services too, and started dealing with Olivers quite recently when the dealer took over the JCB franchise for our area,” Neil explained. “The service is excellent and we are looked after well.”

One of the Byford’s current Fastracs is the latest iCON version, and Charlie said that, since it arrived last summer, it has been used for corn carting, drilling, cultivations and hay tedding. “It’s very versatile and I like the improved controls.”

The Byfords were at the demonstration to try the latest 8000-series Fastracs, which Neil believes might be ideal for use with his large square balers.

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