Mr Lacey has five Fendt tractors. “There is a 942, 930, 828, 720 and we have a 716 on hire. We have VarioGrip on the 828, 930 and 942 which helps us to minimise soil compaction when travelling over the soil through wetter months” he says. VarioGrip is an integrated tyre management system that allows the operator to adjust the tyre pressure using an onboard air supply. “The pressure is adjusted with just a click on the terminal, it’s really easy and quick so we don’t waste time or risk unnecessary soil compaction,” says Mr Lacey.
The 2500 acres of arable farm are used for the cultivation of flowers including gladioli and sunflowers. “We grow potatoes for the chipping market, sugar beet and cereals too,” says Mr Lacey. The gladioli crop is planted with an MH Multi Planter pulled by the Fendt 720. “It’s such a versatile tractor. It is light but remains very stable on row crops. Some tractors would be bouncy, but the Fendt is somehow better,” he says.
The self-levelling front axle suspension on the 720 has a 100 mm of travel which makes it more comfortable and stable on rough ground. “The technology is really useful too. The planter uses cameras and I can run a feed directly in to the terminal in the cab so no need for extra screens,” he says.
Smaller Fendts are often used for a variety of tasks and Mr Lacey’s 720 is no exception. “In the autumn we use an 1800 kilo front weight and 300 kilo weights on each wheel, and it pulls a 6 furrow Lemken plough. We pull at 14 inches deep with two subsoilers on each side of the plough. It has 200 horsepower, but it feels more powerful, I think it is the Vario transmission, there always seems to be power when you need it,” he says.
Though power is important to Mr Lacey, the precision aspect of planting crops like gladioli is of equal importance. “The Vario transmission helps to regulate tractor speed to enable us to space the bulbs correctly. Also, when we come to harvest the sunflower crop, we can run the tractor at 0.5km/h so our eighteen pickers can walk alongside and load a flatbed trailer,” he says.
At the other end of the scale is Mr Lacey’s 930. “It pulls a Lemken Solitair 9, 6 metre, combination drill. The section control combined with the Vario terminal and the Isobus means there are no other control boxes and we can have four sections on the drill, so we use less seed by not overlapping as much. The section control also has auto shut-off and, with Fendt’s Auto TI headland management, we are able to mark out the field so the drill is lifted automatically at the headland, which saves seed and time,” he says.
Auto TI is a headland management system. It enables the operator to create and store a headland sequence for the tractor and implement. Using the tractor’s GPS and a field boundary, the sequence is automatically triggered at a pre-defined distance from the boundary, meaning that the ‘ins and outs’ are performed at the same point consistently, which reduces any over or underlapping. Once programmed these sequences can be stored and recalled at any time. “When we are using our Baselier potato planter we can program the tractor to lift up the planter automatically, so we don’t waste seed on headlands,” he says.
The 930 is fast and economical on the road. “The 60km/h road speed helps us move faster. It pulls a fully laden Bailey trailer at 56km/h at just 1800 rpm so there is also a good fuel saving. We are regularly doing eighteen-mile trips, so the time and fuel savings add up quickly,” explains Mr Lacey.
Fendt claims that the Fendt 900 Vario has up to 16% more transport capacity. For example, when transporting a load of 230 tonnes it can move 37 tonnes more in ten hours because of the higher speed. “I think the fuel saving is also due to the ability to adapt the tyre pressure. The VarioGrip tyre pressure system changes the tyre pressure while I’m driving, so I don’t have to waste time. This makes it faster, more comfortable and economical on the road with just the push of a button,” he says.
The tyre inflation technology uses an integral rotary union, which is designed to last the lifetime of the tractor. Air is supplied via a water-cooled double-compressor as well as the vehicle's own valve equipment.
From May through to September Mr Lacey is using a Rogator 655 to spray 1200 acres a week. “We like the road speed and the comfort, but because the Rogator has more ground clearance it is a much better sprayer for us than anything else we have used in the past,” he says. The gladioli and ornamental cabbage Mr Lacey produces grows to approximately 1.2 metres. “We had a John Deere but because the ground clearance was only a metre it was hitting the gladioli. The extra height provided by the Fendt has given us the room we need,” he explains.
The Rogator runs on 650 tyres that allow Mr Lacey to tramline the majority of his crops. “It really helps with access. Being able to run on tramlines is a big benefit and makes spraying that bit easier,” he says. The speed of the Rogator also helps Mr Lacey to save time. “It will do 50km/h on the road at 1750 rpm. It’s surprisingly quiet too, we really appreciate the cab, it’s just like driving one of the tractors,” he says. The farm has its own base station to run the Rogator on RTK. “The RTK guidance and the 72-nozzle section control on the Rogator helps us to minimise overlap. We grow some very sensitive crops so it’s really important that we get an even application,” he explains.