We at Thomas Banks & Partners strongly believe that investment in machinery is vital to our business. The environment and climate in which we work as well as the weeds we try to control change year on year and so we have to be flexible and willing to change our systems to cope with that. Since 2007 we have invested heavily in to GPS and with Edward Banks being one of the founder members of RTK Farming Ltd, the farm now has the latest and best in GPS technology. RTK GPS has now become the cornerstone of our farming operation, with no single job not utilising its benefits. With the use of minimal tillage systems and with the accuracy of RTK GPS, we have achieved a 37% reduction in tractor hours per year, which has enabled us to cover a far greater area more quickly and efficiently (please see the GPS page).
We have also changed our machinery to target specific weeds issues; one example of this is black grass. Black grass is one of the biggest problems facing arable farmers in the UK and we had our fair share of chemical resistant black grass. Due to the lack of effectiveness of the existing chemicals and no sign of new ones coming through the system, we decided to act.
By sowing our oil seed rape (OSR) and sugar beet in 50cm rows, we can create sterile strips in-between the rows. By not disturbing that area of ground, it reduces the amount of weeds germinating as well as leaving the buried weed seeds underground for longer, which reduces the number of viable seeds.
Once the crops have been sown we have recently purchased a Micron Varidome band sprayer. This means we are trialing a system whereby you can spray glyphosate between the rows killing all weeds, while at the same time spray the prescribed chemical only on the row. This reduces chemical costs by up to 60% as well as making a very clean crop.
Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF)
Thomas Banks and Partners is in the beginning stages of implementing out CTF across its farmed area. This means that we reduce the lines of traffic across the land and in doing so reduce the compaction. Where cultivation and application traffic is random, between 60% and 85% of the field is driven over. When managed properly, controlled traffic systems can result in less than 15% of a field being affected by compaction from wheel tracks. This in turn increases yields by up to 18% in the areas of no traffic and therefore increases field gross margins.
- Case AFX9120, with 35ft cut & GPS RTK auto steer and yield mapping. 2010
- Baler: New Holland BB9090 – 4×4 foot bales 2011
- Trailers: 2x 18t Warwick
- Case Quadtrac 500 – 500HP. 2016
- Case Puma 240CVX – 240 HP. 2016
- Case Puma140 – 165HP. 2009
- John Deere 6900 – 125HP. 1997
- Case Puma 185CVX (new – hired in at harvest)
- Case Puma 215CVX (new – hired in at harvest)
- JCB 935.95 Agri-Super, 9.5m extension (3t Grain bucket) 2017
- Challenger Rogator 655 – 5000L tank, 36m, fully RTK GPS autosteer and section control
- Micron 6m Varidome band sprayer – on the row as well as in-between the row spray lines
- KRM M3 Spreader – Variable rate and weigh cell
- 16,000L tri-axle Vegicraft bowser for water/liquid fertiliser with petrol powered centrifugal pump. Bunded, with lockable chemical store
- 18m mounted boom applicator – for slug pellets and avadex
- 1 x Vaderstad Top Down, 6m
- 1 x Vaderstad Carrier, 6.5m
- Plough: 1x Doweswell DP9 8 furrow semi-mounted
- Power Harrows: Doweswell 8m
- Flexicoil 12m Cambridge type heavy rolls (with Avadex spreader)