The farm’s sprayer works more than 1,000 hours each year and the total sprayed area has increased as extra applications are needed to tackle black-grass. It also applies liquid fertiliser at variable rates based on soil surveys and yield map data. “We have used liquid fertilisers since 2002, and variable-rate applications since 2005,” explained owner Fred French. “The technique is particularly effective for maintaining P & K indices, and we sample and compare the same locations every few years to ensure application rates are managed correctly.”
The self-propelled sprayer was supplied by main dealer RW Crawford Agricultural Machinery Ltd, and is the fourth Rogator to be operated by farmers and contractors M & M F French, based at Meopham, near Gravesend.
Approximately 2,500ha is farmed stubble-to-stubble within 10 miles of the base, including owned, rented and contract-farmed land. Cropping is mainly cereals with oilseed rape, peas, beans and linseed included as break-crops. Soils vary, but most are chalk loams, or flint and clay. Group 1 wheats are grown for milling, and most of the grain is sold to commercial mills at Tilbury just a few miles away.
Large work load
The new Fendt Rogator 665 with a 6,300-litre tank and 36m boom is the fourth Rogator operated by the farm since 2010, and it replaced a Challenger Rogator 655D. “I really like the design,” he commented. “The front-mounted cab is excellent, the ride quality is second-to-none, and the boom stability and spray accuracy are superb, but a major factor in our loyalty to the brand is the back-up from Crawfords. We are looked after by the Ashford depot now, but even when the dealer’s nearest depot was in Essex we could always rely on the service.
“We operate three combines but only one sprayer which covers a lot of ground, so if the Rogator has a problem it has to be rectified quickly."
The Fendt sprayer arrived on Friday 6th August, and its delivery coincided with Fred’s daughter, Kate French winning the Gold Medal in the Modern Pentathlon at the Olympic Games. “Due to Covid-19 restrictions we couldn’t be in Japan to support Kate, so we watched at home,” he explained. “The sprayer arrived within an hour of Kate’s win. It’s the most important machine on our farm and a significant investment, so it seemed appropriate to name it ‘Tokyo’, after the Olympics host city on such a momentous day.”
The Modern Pentathlon includes fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running. “I was very lucky,” explained Kate. “Growing up on the farm meant I spent a lot of time outside. We had horses, and I was always horse riding and running around the fields. I live in Bath now with my husband Leo as the training base is there, but love coming back to the farm.”
Asked about having the sprayer named to commemorate her win, Kate said that she was pleased when her dad told her his idea. “It’s typical of him to do something like that - I like the name plate, he will have to keep that sprayer now. I enjoy riding the horses and running when I am back on the farm, but in future I will want to drive the Rogator too!”
Delighted to help
Carl Goff, Fendt Brand Specialist from Crawfords Ashford depot said that he was excited to be asked to add the name plate and Olympic rings. “We get on very well with Fred and he is a good customer, so we were delighted when he asked us to help him celebrate Kate’s Gold Medal win in this way.”
Carl Goff - RW Crawford Agricultural Machinery Ltd Fendt Brand Specialist, based at the Ashford depot. Kate French - Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Gold Medal winner. Modern Pentathlon - 6th August 2021. Fred French - Meopham, Kent-based farmer and contractor trading as M & M F French.
M & M F French – Fendt Rogator 665 ‘Tokyo’
Main tank capacity 6,300 litres
Clean water capacity 500 litres
Pump 785 litres/min hydraulic drive
Induction hopper 60 litres. Flow 200 litres/min
Transmission HydroStar CVT
Options fitted - DualSelect 2+2 nozzles with OptiNozzle control
Supplied by – RW Crawford Agricultural Machinery Ltd.
Other machinery supplied by Crawfords includes a Fendt 650hp, 1165 Vario MT rubber-tracked crawler purchased earlier this year.