As one of the larger fruit growers in South-east England, Gaskains Ltd, grow top and stone fruit including dessert apples, Conference pears and plums for the major supermarkets.
Produce is stored on site and graded and packed at Prime Produce (a business jointly owned with Great Cheveney Farm) ready for national distribution. They also farm a significant acreage of vineyards with Taittinger, the first champagne house to plant vines in the UK.
With a total of 900acres of fruit production, the enterprise is highly mechanised with a total of 32 tractors, seven of which are mainly employed on sprayer duties - the remainder are small units, mainly Valpadanas for bin-pulling and mowing. Maintenance and servicing of the fleet is carried out on-site by two full-time mechanics. Changes to the main tractor brand of late is reflecting the company’s needs to utilise equipment that is simple to maintain, reliable and returns a good residual value. Mark Gaskain points out “we’ve gone over to Burden Bros Agri for their John Deere products because they are now much simpler and more reliable and much easier to service and maintain compared with other brands we have used. Simplicity means there is less to go wrong, improved reliability and less problems compared with tractors with lots of electronics. We just want a good, reliable performer without all the gimmicks.”
Recent tractor acquisitions have included two John Deere 5090GN (90hp) tractors and five John Deere GF models including a 5080 (80hp), 5085 (85hp) and 5090 (90hp) specialty tractors. The GN version has an operating width of 1.257 - 1.822mm while the GF model has an operating width of 1.303 - 1.951mm.
Paul King and Andy Page at Burden Bros Agri have been very supportive in helping our operators get the best from their products. The company also offered us some very competitive finance packages for fleet purchase and therefore the all-round deal was very attractive.
“We decided on two of the GNs for the vineyards,” said Mark, “we could have gone for the narrower vineyard version but seeing as the GN is a little wider, it makes it more stable and allows us to use them in our Top and Stone fruit orchards as well as in the vineyards. The cabs on the John Deere are a lot more spacious than our previous brand and the operators really like them, so they become more productive. That means the drivers are more likely to look after their tractors, and the maintenance team who are very thorough at their work, find them easy to service and maintain, all of which reflects in lower operating costs. The residual value promises to be a lot better because the John Deere’s hold their value so all in all we are on to a very positive cost profile.”
Installation and optimisation support are a major benefit when changing brands and Mark has found that “Paul King and Andy Page at Burden Bros Agri have been very supportive in helping our operators get the best from their products. The company also offered us some very competitive finance packages for fleet purchase and therefore the all-round deal was very attractive. We’ve found Burden Bros Agri to be highly responsive whenever we have needed after-sales service. I’m very happy with our decision to go for the John Deere product - it’s a high quality, reliable performer. That’s what we want from our suppliers and that’s exactly what we sell to our customers.” he concluded.