As March slowly migrates into April and we move into mid-spring, the trees come into leaf on Boundary Farm…

I’ve been working hard on other farms to make money and finance the cost of the equipment I will need on my own farm going forwards. In late March, the first sowing jobs appeared despite the soil temperature remaining lower than ideal. Initially there were potato’s to sow. Despite the huge payouts for doing them, I left those jobs alone as they will take a lot of time to complete. Then the first Wheat sowing job appeared along with one for Oats. To take these jobs I bought a seeder – I’m going to need one myself soon so it seemed an opportune time. I went with the Horsch Pronto 6AS again as it served me well on Oak Glen Farm but this time I’ve bought the associated SW3500 tank to go with it as the size of most of the fields around justify the much larger capacity……and the SW3500 will also work with the Maestro 8RC so I can add one of those seeders later when I’m ready to get into Corn and Sunflowers.

I had been doing a lot of cultivating using the Kuhn subsoiler but its fixed 4m width was making any trip along Duken Lane past the pub very difficult as the road is only barely wider than 4m there. It was also a liability when running on the main road – always having to weave around lamp posts when there was a gap in the oncoming traffic so as to avoid a collision. I’m not going to sell the Subsoiler – it has its place on my farm – but I needed a more transport-friendly piece of equipment for cultivating jobs. Although I went for the Horsch seeder that I know, one thing I’m trying to do on this farm is use different equipment, so I looked at the various cultivators in-game and on the mod-hub. I chose the Vaderstad Carrier 500 Disc Harrow. It folds up nicely for transport between fields and has a working width of 5m. It is also within the power of my current tractor which comes in handy when some of the local fields resemble a ski-jump…

I’ve done more ploughing jobs and some transporting – there’s definitely plenty of variety in the jobs. I often pick a job, hitch up the required equipment and then wind up doing another job requiring the same equipment after the first is completed! And I’m still finding new areas of the map to visit! Back on my own farm in early April, I completed the tidy up by removing some more low growing shrubs and trees to create a bit of open parking space for the equipment. I promised that this time I wouldn’t be doing any wholesale tree clearance and I’ve stuck to that – well almost. While using the Biobeltz stump grinder to remove one set of saplings, a full sized tree just upped and disappeared on me! Not my fault – that’s a map/game issue! Anyway, the good news is that, unlike the real world, you can just stick in a replacement tree – I used one of AlienJim’s season’s ready placeable trees. Here’s the cleared area with the Vaderstad and the MetalTech trailer parked up……and the big Beech behind them is the replacement tree 🙂 I’ve also cleared the shrubs in the area next to the silo, which gives another dumping ground for equipment that doesn’t need sheltering from the weather……and finally, while I have left the Birch beside the barn, I’ve cleared out the low growth next to the field which was restricting movement in front of the lean-to. Then, I planted two full-size trees, another Birch and a Maple……so there’s been a net gain of two grown trees.  And, wood salvaged from the clearance has earned me £3k 🙂

Yesterday, which I estimate to be the 7th of April in-game, I decided to sow my own field with Barley……The soil temperature is still stubbornly sitting on 4 degrees but I’m hoping it will warm over the next couple of days before a spell of rain moves in. Even with the increased capacity of the SW3500, the Horsch still needed refilling to completely sow this field, so I think I will have to add a Partner 1600 tank too (like the one I was using on Oak Glen)! However, the SW3500 did allow me to fertilize at the same time, so that’s the second stage of fertilizing completed. Next up I’m going to have to get a sprayer to deal with the pesky weeds and add in the third stage of fertilizing after the crop starts to grow. So we’ll look at that next time 🙂

You’re probably thinking ‘Hang on! I thought we were working Boundary Farm?’ We are but much of what I’m doing there is repetitive work mainly for other farmers so I thought I’ll give you an update a little later in the week. Instead I thought a post about starting on West Newton Farm……in Ayrshire might bring some variety.

If you recall back to my post where I gave my reasons for selecting the Six Ashes map for a play through, I explained that the provision of lots of equipment at the main farm on the West Newton map hints heavily that the player should be opting to work there. It is a dairy farm and that means buying cows, which I’m not entirely ready for! However, I think perhaps I can slowly learn on the job 😉 The farm comes with 3 grass fields… and will leave you with £104k in the bank when you buy it. However you won’t need to buy a lot of equipment to start with as most of the things you need are there. For example, there’s a header for a harvester hiding in the workshop……There’s grass mowing and baling equipment along with a Valtra A series tractor in the big barn……along with a Joskin Betimax animal trailer and some seeds, fertilizer and herbicide……there’s also a selection of lifter tools like pallet forks, etc, out back.

In the small barn there’s a New Holland TX32 to go with the header in the workshop, along with seeding equipment and a crop sprayer……There’s a water tanker standing outside……opposite the cowshed in which you find a New Holland T6.175 and a Kuhn Knight RA 142 auger wagon for mixing and delivering cattle feed……I’ll need to read up about how to use that! Finally, parked outside the farmhouse is a pick-up…

There are some surprising omissions. There’s no Tedder for drying Grass to make Hay. There’s no weight for the tractors to prevent them being tipped by heavy loads or equipment. With seeding equipment you’d expect a plough and a means of cultivating but neither are present. And finally, there’s no trailer for either moving things around or taking grain from a harvest to a sell-point. So there are some things you will probably need to buy as you progress. In fact I went off straight away to get a weight from the dealer in the Valtra. Gonna need that if I’m going to move the herbicide and such around!

The other odd thing is the positioning of some of the equipment/vehicles. When I got back I had decided that my first prioity was to repair the main tractor and the harvester, then relocate things in a manner that was more sensible to my way of thinking. Here’s the main barn……and here’s the small barn……The tractors can rest up in either barn but there’s also room in the workshop, so the Valtra is currently in there…

IRL it’s been a busy day – sandwiched between doing the game-play this morning and writing this post this evening, I did the 200 mile round drive to drop my Son off at University. Now I’m tired 😉 I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look at West Newton Farm. I intend to continue posting from both farms although priority will be given to Boundary Farm. I also need to post some more Trucking Digest and possibly some other games, so the frequency of the farming posts will decrease a bit once more.

Given that I only have one field, the preparation of which is complete, the main focus in mid-March is doing work for other farmers to make some money. With money comes the chance to slowly expand my available equipment which widens the range of jobs I can do. I decided to start doing transport jobs as they pay quite well and don’t take long to do. I could have used the Strautmann trailer for this work but I prefer a 2 axle trailer with headboards at each end, so I decided to trade it in for a MetalTech TB8. I also looked at a Joskin equivalent but in terms of value for money the MetalTech wins. In fact the new trailer cost only £200 initially after the money I got back from the Strautmann is deducted from the cost. The trailer will only be used for transporting so I stuck to low sides. I can add a cover at a later date. Add in a front lift fitment along with pallet fork and total cost was under £8000. Here we go on our first delivery……The other thing I wanted to get into is Ploughing – it pays better than cultivating for a given area of field and there are quite a few ploughing jobs appearing.

The plough sits alongside the wheel as a key invention in the history of mankind. With domestication of animals, it was an enabler of the move from a nomadic lifestyle to an agrarian society. We’ve moved on from a single pointed stick that was dug into the ground to create a furrow and turn the soil, but not as far as you might think! A single blade of a modern plough would look quite familiar to a medieval farmer although having two rows of blades as we have on a modern reversible plough might result in a confused look. I suspect our farmer would grasp the concept quickly enough and then ask where we could get a team of horses capable of pulling the beast! The horses are now metal of course, as are the ploughs, and their ability to pull the plough is rated in Horsepower. And that is what started this train of thought 🙂

If you recall from previous posts about Farming Simulator, every tool that your tractor tows has a ‘required’ horsepower rating, the Agromasz POH5 plough for example……which you can see requires 150HP. Whenever you go to the modhub you find those words ‘required horsepower’ cropping up in most tools you look at. The effect is that the player – ie me – assumes that you need a tractor of at least that horsepower to be able to use the tool. It has the effect of making some of the lower power tractors unemployable for work like ploughing. But is it like that in the real world, where a farmer may have to get by with whatever tractor he has to hand?

In the last post I talked briefly about the Lemken Titan 18 and the difficulties lining it up for each cut. I hypothesised that I would be able to do the work quicker with a rigid plough – I had the Lemken Variopal 8 in mind at the time. That is a 6-furrow plow and requires 180HP. Now there’s that word requires again! Because I wanted to take on ploughing jobs and would prefer a 3m plough I went digging through the available plough mods in the hub. It was there that I found the Grégoire Besson Prima series of ploughs and more specifically, their Prima 70 which is also a 6-furrow 3m plough. What struck me was the required hp rating of 150HP. How does that work when compared with the requirement for the Lemken Variopal 8? I have spent some time since on the Grégoire Besson site (which is very informative) and several farmers chat sites! Now I have a clearer idea of what horespower is really required for general ploughing.

Ok – from the farmers chat… A good rule of thumb is 25HP per furrow -The ancient Egyptians used to get by with a single Ox for their one-furrow plough 😉 If I apply that rule to our ploughs, the Agromasz POH5 should work fine with 125HP (in-game required 150HP) while the 150HP rating of the Grégoire Besson Prima 70 is bang on the money for a 6-furrow plough. I went back to the game help pages and dug out this page about the icons……Icon 3 uses the term Required Power. It goes on to give a slight clarification – ‘to work the tool properly. That raises another question – define properly in the case of an unpowered tool such as a plough? Back in the farmers chat room and one farmer tells of using a 400hp tractor to pull a 6-furrow plough which drew the response… “just how fast do you want to plough!” That suggests that any tractor that is reasonably close in HP to the ‘required’ HP for a plough will be able to do the work but at reduced speed. Using 400HP on the other hand is probably pointless as there is a preferred maximum speed to plough at – most of the ploughs in-game prefer 7mph and I’m assuming that is close to a real-life ploughing speed. Go any faster and I expect the Gulls will be complaining that they can’t keep up 😉 I’ve certainly never seen a tractor driving across a field at sportscar pace while ploughing.

Time for an ingame experiment on Oak Glen Farm. For this I used items that come with the base game to remove a risk that mods might skew the result. I’ve chosen the 102HP Lindner Lintrac 90 – one of those tractors that didn’t seem to have a use. I’ve attached it to the Agromasz POH5 150HP plough and we’re going up to field 47 which has as moderate gradient as you can see……Initially I plough along the side of the field, up the hill……and the tractor is maintaining 4mph – a little slower than the ploughs maximum of 7mph. Then I plough across the field which is essentially flat……the Lindner achieves 6mph, flicking to 7mph. So a 100HP tractor can haul a 150HP rated plough with some loss of speed – effectively the job will take longer. But, I’m guessing that lots of farmers have to make do like that in the real world.  I’d also expect the farmer to plough across the gradient where possible, rather than up it,  to make the work easier for the tractor.   Perhaps the game should use the word Recommended rather than Required – at least where no power out from the tractor is required 😉

Anyway, I did buy the Grégoire Besson Prima 70 and I’m enjoying using it on medium sized fields. I’ve fitted wheel weights to the tractor to help with adhesion when the weather turns wet……I’ve got the 1000kg weight on the front to balance things and keep the front wheels on the road. My turn-arounds at the end of each cut are significantly faster than with the Titan 18 – which is what I expected and I know I’m completing those fields faster than I ever could with that over-sized beast!

I mentioned how informative the Grégoire Besson site is- this page explains so much about how to choose elements of your plough and has a great bit near the bottom about the difference between in-furrow and on-land ploughing – I didn’t know there was such a thing but now realise I’m usually doing the in-furrow kind…

When you play simulation games, like Farming Simulator 19 or one of the Truck simulator games, you can often find yourself deep in thought. Sometimes those thoughts lead to a piece of investigative journalism like today’s report from Boundary Farm. I hope it was of interest 🙂