Efficient or underpowered? Changes over the years...

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
It's widely accepted that there are less people, and less tractors farming a similar area now to 40yrs ago - it's interesting to put some numbers to it

Just worked mine out. 40yrs ago we were farming 40acres per tractor, 80ac/man. Power worked out at 1.45hp/ac (just tractors) Workload included 25% root crops (beet, swedes and potatoes)

Today, we've got 158ac/tractor and 316ac/man, working out at 1.05hp/ac. Workload now includes more acres, and 32% root crops (mostly potatoes, plus beet)

That effectively means that we're farming four times more acres per man, and four times the acres per tractor with 28% less power per acre.

Neither figures include casual labour, or contractors, which was roughly equal from then to now, albeit different jobs. It does include full time and management labour.

Underpowered or efficient?

Longevity of machinery is another interesting thing, alongside this. In the 60's, 70's and most of the 80's, tractors seemed to be changed regularly, perhaps less regularly now. A lot of the classic forums (predictably so, perhaps) malaise the modern era, suggesting tech, electronics and plastic will not last like the stick box and basicness of time gone by......but will that be mirrored by reality? I'm not convinced.

Take MF 3000 series - I bet there was some noise made in 1986 that electro hydraulics wouldn't last, that levers were better (as illustrated by Ford 40series classic edition). 3005 series have in theory a more complicated electro controlled Dynashift gearbox that's favored way above the 16sp manual version. (and backed by values)

Will the same happen with varios in future? I've had way less bother with my MF DynaVT boxes than I have with Dyna6 power shifts, for example.
Ford Range Command equipped TM's make far more money than arguably simpler 40series, with manual SLDP classic variations lagging behind further.
Simple manual gearboxes have largely disappeared from the new tractor offerings in this country in recent years.

I may be right, I may be wrong - I do forsee a market opening for replacement wiring looms in future though!!
 

vantage

Member
Location
Pembs
@Spud , maybe a case of working smarter , but not harder. I haven’t been involved with arable since I was a student and have been dairying since then, but I bet you carry out less operations now to get the desired end result, I know I do with the cows.
 

ARW

Member
Location
Yorkshire
It would be worth mentioning that tractors will also have been swapped due to the evolution of bigger machines and better tractors. If we got stuck on 60hp 2wd would they be changed regularly or run for longer periods?
You could in theory change regularly as it would be relatively cheap, however you may decide to run it for longer as there’s no ergonomical or economical gain
machinery development plays huge part in the reduction of labour and increase or output, now we are seeing further developments and the next stage will be autonomous tractors and robots
My grandad started with a horse and plough with a gang of men
I may see 1 man with lithium batteries farm thousands of acres
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
@Spud , maybe a case of working smarter , but not harder. I haven’t been involved with arable since I was a student and have been dairying since then, but I bet you carry out less operations now to get the desired end result, I know I do with the cows.
It used to take 3 4 or 5 passes to make a decent seedbed, another to drill.
Now its done in two or even one
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
It would be worth mentioning that tractors will also have been swapped due to the evolution of bigger machines and better tractors. If we got stuck on 60hp 2wd would they be changed regularly or run for longer periods?
You could in theory change regularly as it would be relatively cheap, however you may decide to run it for longer as there’s no ergonomical or economical gain
machinery development plays huge part in the reduction of labour and increase or output, now we are seeing further developments and the next stage will be autonomous tractors and robots
My grandad started with a horse and plough with a gang of men
I may see 1 man with lithium batteries farm thousands of acres
What would be the point of that?
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
Perhaps should be working out weight also of tractor /machine /implement that i reckon is just the same as 40yrs ago no better at all,no improvement there at all ...
because For the soil health at least, its not focusing on the right things.
 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
It would be worth mentioning that tractors will also have been swapped due to the evolution of bigger machines and better tractors. That's been the case since time began

If we got stuck on 60hp 2wd would they be changed regularly or run for longer periods? Who knows? £ would dictate I guess
You could in theory change regularly as it would be relatively cheap, however you may decide to run it for longer as there’s no ergonomical or economical gain I've never yet found changing anything young to be 'cheap'
machinery development plays huge part in the reduction of labour and increase or output. And to make operators' lives easier, so they're more efficient.

now we are seeing further developments and the next stage will be autonomous tractors and robots I remain to be convinced
My grandad started with a horse and plough with a gang of men
I may see 1 man with lithium batteries farm thousands of acres In many big field all combinable areas there are farms with more than 1000acres per man now. People are one thing we have lots of - lots of robots will take lots of looking after, I can't see them reducing the number of people it takes to do the job, just less farm staff. And techies take more paying than tractor drivers.
 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
Perhaps should be working out weight also of tractor /machine /implement that i reckon is just the same as 40yrs ago no better at all,no improvement there at all ...
because For the soil health at least, its not focusing on the right things.
Interesting point.

I remember us drilling with our first combination on our 2wd 399 on 16.9r38 tyres (which at that time were deemed wide!) A contractor was ploughing with 6f on a MF2680 on 20.8r38 wheels, and our 135 rocked up on its 12.4e28's with the seed trailer. The 135 weighed half of what the 2680 did, but made wheelings twice as deep.

Our fleet back in the day weighed about 62kg/ac. Today its 43kg/ac. I'd call that progress, to a fashion!
 

Bury the Trash

Member
Mixed Farmer
Interesting point.

I remember us drilling with our first combination on our 2wd 399 on 16.9r38 tyres (which at that time were deemed wide!) A contractor was ploughing with 6f on a MF2680 on 20.8r38 wheels, and our 135 rocked up on its 12.4e28's with the seed trailer. The 135 weighed half of what the 2680 did, but made wheelings twice as deep.

Our fleet back in the day weighed about 62kg/ac. Today its 43kg/ac. I'd call that progress, to a fashion!
was easier to take out that 135 wheel mark though even if on the surface it was deeper.

Them 2000 series masseys where heavy lump. i did a fair bit of hedgtrimming on a 40 and then an 85back in the day ok for that job as they were very stable platform, but for field work like in the advert pics ....hmmm,
heavier tractor / outfit causes worse deeper compaction even if it doesnt on the surface inches. its been proven .
 

thorpe

Member
It's widely accepted that there are less people, and less tractors farming a similar area now to 40yrs ago - it's interesting to put some numbers to it

Just worked mine out. 40yrs ago we were farming 40acres per tractor, 80ac/man. Power worked out at 1.45hp/ac (just tractors) Workload included 25% root crops (beet, swedes and potatoes)

Today, we've got 158ac/tractor and 316ac/man, working out at 1.05hp/ac. Workload now includes more acres, and 32% root crops (mostly potatoes, plus beet)

That effectively means that we're farming four times more acres per man, and four times the acres per tractor with 28% less power per acre.

Neither figures include casual labour, or contractors, which was roughly equal from then to now, albeit different jobs. It does include full time and management labour.

Underpowered or efficient?

Longevity of machinery is another interesting thing, alongside this. In the 60's, 70's and most of the 80's, tractors seemed to be changed regularly, perhaps less regularly now. A lot of the classic forums (predictably so, perhaps) malaise the modern era, suggesting tech, electronics and plastic will not last like the stick box and basicness of time gone by......but will that be mirrored by reality? I'm not convinced.

Take MF 3000 series - I bet there was some noise made in 1986 that electro hydraulics wouldn't last, that levers were better (as illustrated by Ford 40series classic edition). 3005 series have in theory a more complicated electro controlled Dynashift gearbox that's favored way above the 16sp manual version. (and backed by values)

Will the same happen with varios in future? I've had way less bother with my MF DynaVT boxes than I have with Dyna6 power shifts, for example.
Ford Range Command equipped TM's make far more money than arguably simpler 40series, with manual SLDP classic variations lagging behind further.
Simple manual gearboxes have largely disappeared from the new tractor offerings in this country in recent years.

I may be right, I may be wrong - I do forsee a market opening for replacement wiring looms in future though!!
i dont even want to go there , we still didnt get drilled up
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
What an interesting thread topic.

I'm literally in a time warp, and happy about it.

40 years ago I was in nappies 🙄 but the family had 709ac, running 1200 stock units (sheep ones!) between two brothers.
We run more stock on 104 acres.

120hp between a Same Corsaro 70 and a Super Major.
=5.9ac per hp
About 350 machine hours per year with hay and a paddock of swedes/mangolds
= ½hr per ac

Jump to now, we run 104 ac with 90hp
=1.15ac per hp

will maybe do 30 hrs on it this year on maintenance stuff (firewood, potholes in the driveway, spreading compost) as I don't think we'll repeat the covercropping experiment. 56 hrs for 2020.
= ½hr per ac

Time input, hard to say as it's always been about lifestyle. I want to spend about 100 hours actually working (moving cattle) as that's not much effort.

Land value is the big change, they sold 709ac for $2.1 mill in 2005 and we paid $1.1m for 104ac in 2016.
We have quite a debt loading so we're pretty intensive - we payback the bank in a year what they turned over between 1979 and 1981 😳 and still net 3x what their books showed as "net profit" per annum. Interesting stuff to compare.
 

Lowland1

Member
Mixed Farmer
I often wonder if we were still using Ford 4000 size tractors how things would be. Would soils be in such good condition that six tonne wheat yields would be the norm and rather than seeing an empty countryside with the odd tractor in the distance would there be a tractor in every field with happy drivers waving at each other on every pass like they used to.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
I often wonder if we were still using Ford 4000 size tractors how things would be. Would soils be in such good condition that six tonne wheat yields would be the norm and rather than seeing an empty countryside with the odd tractor in the distance would there be a tractor in every field with happy drivers waving at each other on every pass like they used to.
Alot of 'em would still be fudgeing their soils up if it meant using horses to do it. Many modern compaction issues are from chemical use, not mass IMO
 

glasshouse

Member
Location
lothians
What an interesting thread topic.

I'm literally in a time warp, and happy about it.

40 years ago I was in nappies 🙄 but the family had 709ac, running 1200 stock units (sheep ones!) between two brothers.
We run more stock on 104 acres.

120hp between a Same Corsaro 70 and a Super Major.
=5.9ac per hp
About 350 machine hours per year with hay and a paddock of swedes/mangolds
= ½hr per ac

Jump to now, we run 104 ac with 90hp
=1.15ac per hp

will maybe do 30 hrs on it this year on maintenance stuff (firewood, potholes in the driveway, spreading compost) as I don't think we'll repeat the covercropping experiment. 56 hrs for 2020.
= ½hr per ac

Time input, hard to say as it's always been about lifestyle. I want to spend about 100 hours actually working (moving cattle) as that's not much effort.

Land value is the big change, they sold 709ac for $2.1 mill in 2005 and we paid $1.1m for 104ac in 2016.
We have quite a debt loading so we're pretty intensive - we payback the bank in a year what they turned over between 1979 and 1981 😳 and still net 3x what their books showed as "net profit" per annum. Interesting stuff to compare.
You are comparing apples with potatoes
Where was yhe 700 acres ?
How dry was it?
Was it also a hobby?
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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