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 🙂

Here we are at the end of a long day’s work……Cultivating another farmer’s field to make a bit of money on the side. I now have a fuller understanding of how the Seasons mod works, at least in terms of basic arable farming. If you use the default settings of nine days per season, each in-game day (real world time) equates to around 10 farming days. You can do a lot in that time! Let me take you through some of what I have doing in my first farming day on the Six Ashes map.

I set out to completely prepare my field for sowing, including the first stage of fertilizing. I think now that that I could have spread the work out rather than doing it all in one game day – fertilizing could have waited until the next week – ie next irl game day or even the one after! The upshot is that I am ready to sow but soil temperatures are too low for reliable germination of the seeds. I also bought more fertilizer than I needed (I filled up the spreader!) – so I’ve got around 5000l sitting around. That’s not a disaster – I’m just waiting for a fertilizing job on a neighbouring farm. But in the first week of March all the jobs are plowing or cultivating……With an occasional transport job thrown in. Doing plowing for other farmers allows me to try out some of the larger equipment like this Lemken Titan 18……It is a pig to line up for each cut because the tow bar is on a swivel and I think that the time lost positioning it outweighs any gain from a slightly wider cut. That all the jobs reflect the time of year is a good thing – it brings realism. I’m expecting jobs to sow or plant as the weather turns warmer and, when autumn comes, harvesting jobs. In between I’m sure there will be weeding and fertilizing to be done. In fact, I’ve already got my first patches of weeds……They popped up while I was doing my lime spreading! A look at the map shows them dotted around in every crop field…

I have mentioned soil temperatures being too low – Seasons brings much more realistic weather and crop growth. If you glance back to the shot of the weeds in my limed field you can see a number of icons at the top of the screen. The second from the left shows the air temperature and, below that, the ground temperature. I can open up the seasons menu of sowing and harvesting periods, and check what temperatures are needed for each crop to germinate……and I can get a weather forecast that lets me know what the weather over the next few days is likely to be……looks like it’s going to get colder and we may have rain on Wednesday! I may be able to sow on Thursday but Sunday is currently looking better 🙂 In Seasons time those days equate to early-April and early-May. I’d probably prefer to get my crop in the ground in April if possible. Like the real world, the weather forecast may not be totally accurate – it might be possible to sow on Friday despite rain being forecast (which would be mid-April). Then, once the crop is in the ground I’ll be checking how well it can handle what the weather is throwing at it. There’s a chart for that too……I’ll let you read that one for yourselves!

As you can see, Seasons brings a lot more to the game than bare trees 😉 There’s a lot more thought and planning required – all of which may come to nought if there’s a bad drought over summer or if it rains and prevents harvesting the crop before it withers. Much more realistic 🙂 There’s more I could tell you about but this post is already long so it will wait for another day. To close I’ll share a shot with you of how our previous farm, Oak Glen, would have looked in early spring…