Sowing Seeds For The Long Term - Mark and John Harris, Broadditch

Mark and John Harris are sixth generation farmers in Southfleet, Kent and run 500 acres of arable land, mainly loam with a mix of flint and chalk.

They also run a well-established farm shop, called Broadditch and serve the locals with produce as well as organising many local events for their community.

On the arable land, they target their drilling of oilseed rape by 8th August, winter barley from 22nd September and finishing the winter wheat by 10th October. Last year, they had a catastrophic failure of their drill and had to borrow their neighbours single-disc Pottinger, just to get finished.

“We’d been using a Suffolk coulter drill previously,” said John Harris, “and was considering moving onto a disc-drill, when all of a sudden our drill just fell apart. It wasn’t very old and we were very disappointed with it. Having borrowed our neighbours drill to get finished, we then contacted Chris Cormac Walshe at Burden Bros Agri, to discuss finding a ‘strong’ and reliable drill that would suit our conditions and crop mix.”

Having already tried their neighbours Pottinger, they were impressed with it but were looking for a double-disc drill. As Burden Bros Agri is the regional dealer for Pottinger, Chris took John to see a customer with a Pottinger 3002 ADD, with Aerosem drilling technology. It had the twin-disc technology they were looking for and had produced exceptional results.

The help we have got from Burden Bros Agri, both from Chris, the sales guy and the support staff - they have been very helpful and are always very responsive if we need any help.”

“We were very impressed with the build quality of the Pottinger,” added John, “they are renowned for using strong steel specifications and we were looking for something that was going to last us a long time. Burden Bros Agri had been selling them for a long time and had nothing but good things to say about them. The twin disc drill is based on a three-metre mounted power harrow, gives us the most flexibility in our soil conditions and produces very even results. We ran the Sumo Trio, disc and roll before the Pottinger with the oil seed rape last year because it was so hard. We normally plough most of our winter barley and winter wheat ground, either way, the Pottinger gives us great results in all our ground conditions. With my experience so far, I think the Pottinger is going to give us solid service for at least twenty years.”

The Harris’ continue to use a 3m drill combination because of mainly small fields and narrow roads with lots of traffic. With their rape crop, they simply block off every third coulter, leaving 8 rows at 45cm and control sowing depth simply by adjusting the rear packer roller. “It’s a very easy drill to set-up,” said John “and so far has produced far better results than we were ever getting before. The help we have got from Burden Bros Agri, both from Chris, the sales guy and the support staff - they have been very helpful and are always very responsive if we need any help.”

So the drilling is all taken care of for another year - what do John and Mark do with the rest of their spare time? “Well, we hold a high number of themed events at our farm shop and attract thousands of people,” commented John. “Halloween is our biggest event and we put on lots of side-shows and entertainment. Last year we attracted over twenty-five thousand visitors. It helps the farm to stay profitable.” he concluded.

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