Manufacturer works flat-out in lockdown to keep up with export demand
PUBLISHED: 05:00 02 May 2020
A Suffolk farm machinery maker says it is working at full capacity to keep up with “strong” UK and overseas demand amid the coronavirus crisis.
Claydon Drills, based at Wickhambrook, near Newmarket, manufactures a variety of equipment to get crops established, including its patented seed drills, which were conceived by the family firm’s founder, Jeff Claydon.
The company, which employs 47 people at its farm-based design, manufacturing, distribution and service centre, said around 80% of its machines are being exported to 35 countries, from Europe to New Zealand as the production line continues at pace. Three consignments headed to Germany in a single month.
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Over recent years, farmers have become increasingly concerned about the destructive effects of constant ploughing on their soils, and have turned more towards minimum tillage or no-tillage (no-till) regimes.
No-till involves killing off emerging weeds and shoots from last year’s crops using a variety of methods, then drilling seeds directly into the soils without using the more traditional method of ploughing the soil first.
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Jess – whose son, Spencer, runs the commercial team – came up with a drill design which he says enables farmers to produce consistently high-yielding crops at much lower cost than using the old methods. Many countries have adopted the technique, which means his drills continue to be in high demand.
The company is also seeing demand for its harrows, rotary cultivators and inter-row hoes.
Many UK farmers were reassessing their methods due to recent weather challenges, said Jeff.
“The extremes of weather which affected all parts of the UK this season meant that many farming businesses which relied on conventional, min-till or zero till establishment systems were unable to drill their planned acreage of autumn-sown crops because of persistent wet weather which left fields impossible to work and waterlogged,” he said.
“This spring, weather conditions have been exactly the opposite and many soils have dried out completely due to the lack of rain, so even where crops have been sown some have failed to germinate or their growth has been restricted, which will ultimately reduce crop performance.
“The combination of a shortfall in plantings and below-average yields could mean that the UK will have to rely more heavily on imports to meet its requirements later in the year.”
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