Do any arable farms employ someone specifically for the night-shift?

Discussion in 'Cropping' started by Feldspar, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    I can't like the comment enough.

    I did months of night shift in Australia. Usually 7pm - 7am but it always went on later by the time I'd filled the bowser up for the evening, changed wearing parts, greased up etc. I never really slept well enough during the day to work all night so I'd park up at around 5am for a quick 20 minute snooze then I'd be fine again. That's how they did 2,000 hours/year on tractors running from wheat harvest in November through to planting in June. Very efficient working & easier with a bigger farm where you've got a few others working nights too - you can have a foreman keeping them all going. As above, it's not like other jobs don't have shift work.

    It would be harder to do here but I've done it a few times in 2012 to get the drilling finished. Always choose fields away from houses and have an operator mature enough to be self reliant and know when to stop. As long as your operators communicate the problems get sorted. Some jobs won't go at night like combining or drilling into chopped straw where the dew stops it going through the machine. Others like spraying are better done at night when the wind is lighter. I did 40,000 acres of stubble desiccation at night - during the day it was too windy and 38 oC in New South Wales which would have evaporated the spray water before it had hit the intended target.
    Tomtrac likes this.
  2. Greens of Soham used to work double shifts at tattie harvest.

    Ready to start in field 0600-1500 and 1500-0000.

    Not a bad system as each shift had adequate time off. Machines RUNNING 18hrs a day with travel to site etc outwith the field shift.

    I have done night shift grain drying and obviously at lambing. Wouldn't like to do it too regularly.

    Feldspar likes this.
  3. silverfox

    silverfox Member

    That's quite an offensive remark.
    Maybe I'm the one that knows how to run a business without the crap lifestyle .
    glasshouse, Wilberforce and Flat 10 like this.
  4. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    I meant no offence to you and I know nothing about your business to make any kind of judgement. Sorry.

    If you could save £40/ha by running a machine half the size for twice the number of hours/day, would that seem like efficient use of that asset to you? Of course the quality of work needs to be of the same standard and the management would need to be capable of sustaining a night shift. Feldspar's friend is spot on - it looks good on a spreadsheet but is harder to actually put into practice.
  5. Chae1

    Chae1 Member

    Do many arable farmers in Essex still run night shifts?

    Around us there was John Gaymer at Mountnessing. Philpots and Christopher padfield who I worked for.
  6. Not totally sure. I think a few have when pushed. Don't know of anyone doing it routinely, but then I don't know that many people.
  7. The more I think about it the more this seems like a more sensible way of doing it. Maybe even go to 20 hours, but leave 0100 to 0500 which people seem to say is the hardest.
  8. I think if we take on another bit of land on top of what we have just got, there will more likely be complaints of too much work rather than too little. We don't work anything like 18 hour days regularly though.
  9. Tomtrac

    Tomtrac Member

    Penrith cumbria
    With the price off kit and the size of farms i would of thought a lot more would operate 24/7 when good weather
    I have often driven trucks etc on nights 8pm -8 am love driving then not many d-- on the road
    Driven big machine in quarrys we got more tonnes done between 6 pm and midnight than the day shift could between 6am and 6pm just no hassle from other people and concentrate on the job in hand
    Also i now run gritting vehicles in winter and dont start till 7-8 pm and get in 5-8 am
    I have always liked the night time no phone ringing other idiots on road etc
    Its a lot safer when you can plan it. starting at six am and still going at twelve at night or more is asking for trouble better putting staff on a rota but same old trouble farming is weather dependant so what to do if rained off etc pay a shift or fined other work to do
    As above modern lights etc the night now becomes day always serviced silage tackle at night ready for operators in morning
    We where choping grass at four in the morning and guy out of a house came ranting that we should start early and not work at middle of the night so stoped at about four thirty am back to yard 45 mins away had bacon buttys back in field at six am ish and he came out again shouting so told him he said we should start early ralmfao
  10. I think the Greens staff were actually clocking 10 hour shifts (sometimes more) to allow for travel to site etc.

  11. The big problem I see is the very fast rise in machinery costs. New machinery prices have really ramped up now and I think as these filter through it will begin to make people's machinery costs start to look like a sore thumb. We last changed all our tractors in 2014 paying about £70-75k for 220hp tractors. I've heard of new on-farm prices for the equivalent JD at £117k. That's a serious hike.
    DeereMe88 likes this.
  12. I think a lot of careful thought would have to go into making the environment working at night as pleasant as possible. You would need the best technology on machines like the sprayer -- RTK with mapped headlands, boom levelling and excellent lighting. Did a bit last night in the dark; one field had the headland mapped and was a nice square shaped field. That was reasonably relaxing. The second did have the headland tramline saved so had to do it by eye on an awkward shaped field with telegraph poles. Much, much less relaxing. Comes back to the other thread about field sizes -- big, regular shaped fields are much easier to work at night.

    When you were working in Australia were they full time staff who were working at night?

    I think as you say if you have more than one person working the later shift, it would make it a much less lonely affair. I know that when I've had a problem at night, it always feels twice as difficult to sort it out. Having someone else there to help would be a plus. Thing is to have enough work for two people would require a pretty big operation to justify it. When I can see this happening is if there is a serious squeeze in profitability and farms start to join up and share machinery.
  13. Brisel

    Brisel Member

    No RTK or covergae maps, just a basic Trimble light bar for guidance! Good set of lights on the tractor & an uprated alternator to run them. Trailed Hardi 24m sprayer.

  14. Rather you than me!
    rob1978 and Brisel like this.
  15. Mc115reed

    Mc115reed Member

    I'd have to find a new job if my boss went on to 12 hour shifts, I rely on the extra income from July to November working 18hrs a Day every day (weather dependant) I love the job and I love the hours... a couple years ago we ran our slurry pump for 5 days constantly swapping the pump man and the spread man around every few hours to sleep ...
    It worked well we were both happy, both fresh all the time, and we were rolling around in money that month and I paid some
    Debts off...
    BELOWAVERAGE and yorkie like this.
  16. adam_farming

    adam_farming Member

    North Norfolk
    The comment about looking good on a spreadsheet in the office is definitely true. As is the one about having a definite finish time. 99% of the time our guys know when they will finish each day. Only unknown is combining for the cart team which I think is understandable. Outside of harvest all cultivations/drilling is 7.00-20.00 mon-fri, 17:00 finish sat and 15:00 sun. Rest of the year standard 8-hour day mon-fri. Everyone knows when they will finish so the end is always in sight. The same as @Clive I can take on any jobs to extend hours if need be. Example this year we had 80ha more OSR than usual average so normal operator started at 5am ,went until 8pm then management took over for another few hrs. We actually got all OSR in this year in smaller window than normal, with no one really doing anything stupid in terms of hours. Rather than extend hours we normally tend to bring in extra contractor help for combining, ploughing etc. Having another farm owned by same company 1.5hrs away also helps as one can help the other if they finish first.
  17. principal skinner

    Do you not think there is more to life than 18hr days for maybe five months of the year? Are you married, family? If so you are missing out on so much imo

    Been there, done the hours and it's sh!t, end of.
  18. depends what you want out of life,worked all the hours there was up to 10 years ago,started to wind down then,married at 20,just gone 58,still married to same one after all the years and hours plan was pack in at 55 had to work 2 years longer,spend all the time together now:),worked out good for us
  19. If I had someone who was keen to work those hours and was happy that they were safe to do so then that would be a different matter entirely. From an employer's perspective though as you have people who move out of their 30s and 40s and don't have big debts to pay off and don't wish to do those hours, then you have to think of ways of making a profitable business without affecting quality of life. I am concerned about rising machinery costs and we have to think of innovative ways to maintain decent margins.
  20. From your perspective and considerable experience, what do you think of double shifts?

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