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Profile: Kverneland

For Somerton farmer Bill Davey and Springdale Farming Company ensuring the right machines for the job has been key to the success of business efficiencies and growth

Twenty years ago, a land agent told Bill Davey, “You’ll never buy a better bit of land than this.” Back then, he suspected land agent spiel, but now Bill admits the agent was right.

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Bill Davey and team member Jordan Macnamara

This year, in particular the NorWester that is so prevalent on the Rakaia Plains, has excelled, bringing high temperatures and gale force winds for what seems like weeks on end. And if it’s blowing, Bill’s place gets it.

It’s that wind that brought the precious Barrhill sandy silt loam to Springdale Farm, at Somerton, over millennia. Keeping it where it landed is of paramount importance to Bill Davey and his son and right-hand man, Nick.

“We are probably on some of the best cropping ground in the country. I feel fortunate to have been able to acquire these 487 hectares almost 20 years ago now. I don’t think I could have picked a better farm. Even though we need the insurance of irrigation, we have got good soil that holds the moisture. We get some excellent crop yields.”

Previously, Bill farmed in Lincolnshire, England, where abrasive soils and heavy wear on his plough parts eventually led him to a Kverneland plough.

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An 8 furrow, semi-mounted KV PG100 reversible plough

“We were getting through plough parts faster than we liked and didn’t realise that a different brand of plough might offer a harderwearing solution. Talking to farmer friends we realised Kverneland seemed to have far harder steel in their products. I bought a 5 furrow Kverneland LD 100 reversible and those parts stood the test of time. Our ploughman of many years said, ‘Bill, now we have got a plough!’”

In dry autumn conditions, Bill used to change plough points almost daily, but after switching to Kverneland, plough points lasted almost four times longer in the abrasive soil.

“Soon after we arrived in New Zealand, I realised I needed a decent plough, so I started with a Kverneland 7 furrow RG100 reversible. We replaced it three years ago with an 8 furrow, semi-mounted KV PG100 reversible, with break-back legs from Power Farming, Ashburton. I was looking for the same strength and durability I had experience in my previous ploughs.

“The break-back system offers protection to the plough when off-farm contracting, where you are not always aware of what lies just below the surface. If the plough hits a rock, instead of breaking shear bolts or damaging parts, the individual furrow leg leaps out of the ground, over the rock, and then back in. We operate the plough with a 340hp John Deere tractor and have the ability to cover impressive areas daily.

“Once the plough is set up correctly, it’s very user-friendly. The ploughman can alter the furrow width hydraulically while on the move, depending on the conditions, headland finishes and crop residue inversion.

“It’s far more versatile than it looks being such a big plough. It’s possible to plough into the corners of the paddock and the addition of maize skimmers assists in burying crop residues perfectly. By incorporating these residues, we have maintained and improved our soil’s biodiversity. The plough is userfriendly, a great piece of kit, and very much part of our farm’s artillery.”

Bill speaks highly of the Kverneland brand’s design, strength, and durability. He has formed a close association with dealer principal Simon Jackson and the team at Power Farming, Ashburton. He rates them highly for their ability to provide parts and back-up quickly.

“They always have the part or very occasionally have performed a miracle. They are a nationwide, family-owned and run company and we get excellent service from them.”

Kverneland Qualidisc Cultivator

Bill’s attention turned again to Kverneland when Nick’s contracting business required a machine to break down the tough residues of winter-fed brassicas, which simply clogged up their tined implement. Demonstrations proved that the Kverneland Qualidisc Cultivator managed the job admirably.

The Qualidisc’s effectiveness is largely due to its large 600 mm discs with close spacing, giving excellent chopping and sizing ability. The reduced concave design and work angle of the discs ensure excellent penetration, incorporation, and soil cultivation. Kverneland’s high-quality, heat-treated steel provides a high degree of hardness to the discs. Lateral deflectors retain soil flow within the working width, and the finger harrows regulate the soil flow behind the discs, ensuring the finer soil stays on top for improved germination. Bill’s Qualidisc has a solid serrated Actipaker roller, fitted with knives, which he feels provides a very good finish.

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The ploughman can alter the furrow width hydraulically while on the move

“We use the Qualidisc far more than we expected. It’s a trailed six-metre machine, which folds easily for road transport in between jobs. We operate it with ease using a 200hp John Deere tractor and it seems to make a better job the faster it’s travelling. The speed that achieves the optimum results is between 12 and 15kph, on our soils.

“Depth control is simple to adjust using the hydraulic ram and either adding or removing nylon shims depending on the working depth required. Altering the downward pressure of the rear packer/roller assembly is also straightforward if and when required.

“The Qualidisc is wearing well. We’ve had it for three years now and we haven’t had to replace any of the main soil engaging parts. The disc bearings are sealed, and we’ve had no failures to date. The hydraulic ram seals have caused no problems, it’s a low maintenance machine.

“The Qualidisc is an excellent addition to our toolkit. It lives up to the Kverneland stamp of quality build and hard-wearing parts.”

Bill and Nick have diversified and created great synergy between the strands of their business and the dairy industry. Initially an arable operation with lamb finishing, Nick now runs a contracting business. He supplies local dairy farms with high-quality forage, a portion of which is grown on Springdale properties. Its success has given them the scope to invest in quality machinery. Consequently, the Davey’s run a fleet of the latest gear.

McHale 998 High-Speed Bale Wrapper

To add further diversity to their arable operation, Bill and Nick winter graze dairy cows on kale for local dairy farmers.

“Planting spring-sown crops after the plough has buried the residue left behind by the cows. We have achieved some tremendous results. In fact, our soil tests identify quite clearly the positive effect the cows are having on our soil, whilst providing us with a short-term income.”

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The Kverneland Qualidisc Cultivator is operated using a 200hp John Deere tractor

Nick runs a McHale 998 High-Speed Bale Wrapper, which compliments his Claas 5300 Square Baler. So far it has completed three seasons of fast, trouble-free, and user-friendly operation, and is regularly wrapping 70 bales an hour in peak periods.

“It has proven to be a justifiable investment as it gets plenty of work and does an excellent job of evenly wrapping the bales. The variable bale size offers farmers a choice and it doesn’t require a big tractor to operate, 150hp will do the job adequately.”

The last 10 years have certainly been lifechanging for the Daveys. The move towards Dairy Support was an unexpected one for Bill. The fact that contracting provides a valuable income strand to the farm was unexpected also. But diversification has brought greater resilience and unexpected synergies to Springdale Farming Company Ltd, and he’s happy with that.

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