Primary pupils get to choose £85k farm machine for Euston Estate

Pictured from left are pupils Josh Brown (11), Ruby Saleh (10), Ava Denyer-Peach (10), Molly Vooght

Pictured from left are pupils Josh Brown (11), Ruby Saleh (10), Ava Denyer-Peach (10), Molly Vooght (11) and William Gidney (10) of Barnham Primary School, Thetford, at Euston Estate Farm. Picture: MARK SCOTT - Credit: Mark Scott

Primary school pupils got to handle an £85,000 budget as they worked out the best farm machine for a Suffolk estate.

Matthew Hawthorne, Euston Estate. Picture: MARK SCOTT

Matthew Hawthorne, Euston Estate. Picture: MARK SCOTT - Credit: Mark Scott

Year 6 youngsters at Barnham Primary School were asked to choose the best telescopic handler, a machine which lifts and moves objects, to suit the farm business at the Euston Estate, near Thetford.

They looked at what was required, the sort of service back-up dealers were offering and how to assess the best quotation out of the three shortlisted.

The 10 to 11-year-olds were also given pictures of the machines, asked to think about their styling and overall appearance and were promised the telehandler they chose would be the one bought by the farm.

In the end, they chose a JCB Loadall 531-70 Agri Super which was delivered by local dealer G & J Peck. Farm manager Matthew Hawthorne took the Loadall to the school for the pupils to admire before it was put to work.

“We haven’t had a JCB loader on the farm for many years but the Loadall’s design, styling and features put the machine ahead of its competitors – and I think being British built helped too,” said Matthew.

“I’m very happy with the children’s choice – it has the edge on all-round visibility, it’s a lot quieter than the two other machines we considered, so it scores well on driver comfort, and it generally feels well built.”

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The project had opened the eyes of pupils to the different factors involved in making an important purchase, he added.

“I’m convinced more schools and farms could work together to the benefit of pupils from diverse backgrounds, who would understand more about what goes into food production while learning key skills.”

The new Loadall, which is built at JCB’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire, can lift 3.1 tonnes and take a 2.4 tonne load to a height of 7 metres using its telescopic boom.

G & J Peck director Jon Wareing said: “This was a wonderful project to be involved in and we are absolutely delighted the pupils chose the JCB Loadall 531-70 Agri Super for the farm to buy, particularly after they went into such great detail in arriving at their decision.”

Matthew, who is also chair of governors at the school, said he was keen to see schools using farms to bring maths, science and other subjects such as biology and food production to life.

The new machine will handle a range of routine tasks such as loading bales and grain on the Euston Estate, which grows 1700 acres of grain and oilseed crops, 1000 acres of maize for a bio-digesting electricity generator, and 16,000 tonnes of sugar beet. It will also be engaged in forestry and general maintenance work.