Case IH keeps Turley wheels turning


Turley Farms enjoys support for the Case IH equipment from their local dealership, Cochranes, which, in turn, is backed by Case IH

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When it comes to putting fresh vegetables on the table, the Turley family have plenty to choose from their massive backyard. Canterbury-based Turley Farms is a family-owned and operated enterprise, which grows a host of vegetable, seed, and pasture crops, from wheat, potatoes, barley, white clover, onions, grass seed, and carrot seed to hybrid radish and spinach, process peas, hybrid canola, and sunflowers.

Of course, having such a diverse range of crops also means that Turley Farms has machines for just about every purpose. The business is largely self-contained, backed by technology to keep the many wheels turning.

"We do grow a large variety of crops," says farms manager Andrew Smith, who harvests most of the speciality crops. "Over the last two years, we put 16 different crops through the combine each year."

Andrew has a wide-ranging brief, with responsibility for staff, equipment, crop-production, handling, and distribution. During winter, they finish store lambs and do some dairy cow wintering along with finishing some beef cattle.

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The Turley Farms business, headed by Murray and Margaret Turley, runs a variety of machinery makes and models. At Rangitata, where Andrew is based, most of the paddocks are too stony for growing onions and potatoes.

These do well on better soils at Temuka and at Chertsey in mid-Canterbury. One of the mainstay machines for cultivation in South Canterbury is a Case IH Steiger 550 Quadtrac with a 12-furrow reversible plough behind it, duplicated at mid-Canterbury with a Steiger 450, all part of a fleet of mainly Case IH equipment.

Murray’s father started off farming with a Farmall M in the 1950s. The first Case IH tractor that Murray drove in about 1974 was a Case 1370. Today, Turley Farms runs a dozen Case IH tractors, ranging in horsepower from 75 to the 550.

Many of them are fitted with Case IH AFS (Advanced Farming Systems) auto-guidance.
Precision is essential across the farms, with some seed placed to an accuracy of two centimetres, for instance. Most of the Turley Farms tractors operate on autosteer running 2.5cm Trimble RTK accuracy.

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With that technology on hand, there’s really no such thing as ‘averaging’ on these farms. Real-time data monitoring from the Vantage system using Trimble technology gives the farms insight into soil moisture levels among other things.

By comparing the results with readings from a weather station, the business can work out soil deficit and crop demand. With help from other tech, the farms also do variable-rate fertiliser application through spreaders. Everything is grid-referenced and soil tested.

From there, a variable rate map is created and loaded into the machine screen, which then controls the fertiliser spreaders to apply the correct amount to certain parts of a paddock as per the variable rate map.

It could mean 50kg of fertiliser goes on one spot but 200kg just a 100 metres away. Andrew says the farm has always been progressive about collecting data and ultimately, the information allows opportunities for the business. As a driver, Andrew says his bottom line is cab comfort and strong support from the dealership.

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"It’s about how much confidence you have there. It doesn’t matter what colour the machine is, or what bit of machinery it is, they’ve all got the risk of stopping. So, probably a big one is how well the problems are dealt with when they arise."

Turley Farms enjoys support for the Case IH equipment from their local dealership, Cochranes, which, in turn, is backed by Case IH. They look for easy operability. "Last year during harvest, we ran 17 full-time staff and had 13 overseas staff for harvest,"says Andrew.

Five combines might be working simultaneously at that peak and attention to detail is paramount. "Those combines could all be in different crops; that’s fine until you get back to the yard and there are five combines feeding different crops or varieties of a crop back to storage or drying facilities. We need skilled operators to ensure everything is taken to the correct delivery point," Andrew says.

Preventing crop contamination is a real focus of the team from the farm managers, agronomists, permanent staff, and seasonal harvest staff. "From a crop hygiene point of view, it all starts with the agronomists in the field moving onto harvesting storage and drying – physically getting it out of the combine and into the drying system, then away to market. If you haven’t got that right, then you’re not going to keep your market for very long."

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Given what’s at stake, hygiene is king, so Turley Farms uses a large air compressor and an industrial vacuum cleaner to clean combines. Andrew says Turley Farms do a combination of till and no-till depending on what’s being planted.

"If we’re planting a crop out of an ex-ryegrass harvest, it’s generally ploughed to set it up for the next crop. But if we’re going from wheat to something else, it’s generally one pass with the TopDown followed by the drill." There are no hard and fast rules for the approach to cultivation and crop management, he says. "It very much depends on what’s next in the rotation," Andrew says.

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