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In the field: Heaths of Stockton, Cheshire

In the field: Heaths of Stockton, Cheshire

At Heaths of Stockton, Cheshire, a fleet of 10 tractors take on arable and dairy duties as well as working on the anaerobic digestion plant, and partner Simon Heath has seen horsepower grow in recent years.


He says: “We have added larger tractors to meet the demands of our machinery – power harrows are up to widths of eight metres. But we are looking to get more value from them.”


Mainly Fendt, the tractors are bought outright from R.V.W. Pugh and come with a flexible warranty and service contract.


Mr Heath says: “It is an advantage being able to add hours to the initial warranty term. We tend to keep tractors for three to five years. At 2,000 hours, the modern tractor is barely run in; while we have always run them for 6,000-8,000 hours, now it might be 10,000 hours.”


He adds that while it is nice to have a new tractor, he has no concerns about running a five-year-old machine with 8,000 hours on it as long as it has been kept under warranty.


“We have three Fendt 828s and when I get in them, it is hard to tell the difference between the older and newer models. It helps that the Fendt warranty is comprehensive, so even if it is a cosmetic item which needs replacing, it gets done.”


Mr Heath says that purchase prices for new tractors have increased steeply.


“While trade-in values for our tractors have kept up, it is another reason why it makes sense to keep them for longer. Our purchasing policy means that if we have a good year, a tractor that is due for renewal will get swapped, but if conditions are less favourable we will keep it in the fleet for another year.”

A contractor’s perspective: C. Groves and Son, Lincolnshire

A contractor’s perspective: C. Groves and Son, Lincolnshire

Contractors C. Groves and Son focus on straw and cereals work as well as their own farm near Sutton St James, Lincolnshire, and added a 335hp JCB Fastrac 8330 to the fleet for harvest 2019.


“Depreciation is a key concern for us,” explains partner Gordon Groves.


“We aim to pay two-thirds of the cost as a cash purchase and finance the rest on a three-year contract. That way the tractor is working for us, rather than to pay off the finance and we do not need to run it into the ground. We will keep it for 6,000-7,000 hours.”


Mr Groves had opted to keep his 2006 Fastrac 8250 as a backup, rather than trade it in.


“We do not put as many hours on a larger tractor as some would, but they have to do everything, from running a big square baler to potato carting and we have also used the 8330 for ploughing.”


A 5,000-hour, four-year warranty has been added this time, says Mr Groves.


“We have always found the Fastrac reliable, but via the warranty, a couple of software issues were quickly remedied.”


He adds the larger Fastracs also represent good value.


“When we compared them with other high horsepower brands, there was a significant price difference. We have also recently purchased a Fastrac 4220 and we were surprised at the small step up in cost to the larger tractor.”


The 220hp Fastrac 4220 also demonstrates Mr Groves’ eye for a good deal. Featuring a limited-edition silver finish, he aims to keep it in the fleet for a few years to take advantage of future demand for ‘collectable’ tractors.

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