Claydon Brings Brutal Hampshire Soils Into Check
9th July 2014
Compton Manor Estate at King’s Somborne in Hants is the sort of place you’d dream about –– 970ha of rolling Hants countryside, there’s 530ha of arable, set in generous fields among well managed mature woodland. Passing through is one of the best stretches of the River Test for trout fishing, and this, along with the woodland, has earned it a reputation as one of the top sporting estates in the country –– truly a jewel set in a scepter’d isle. But just try and work its soils. “Evil” is how drill operator Peter Jarvis describes
them. Although it neighbours easy-going chalk downland, Compton itself sits on brutal, heavy clay, laced with unforgiving flints. When Andrew Day took over as estate manager three years ago, it was atthe start of a radical change in the way these soils were kept in check.
Deep cultivations culture
“Previously, there’d been a culture of deep cultivations,” explains Andrew Day. “Ploughs and heavy tines made multiple passes to beat the soils into shape. The estate had more tractors than it needed and no earthworms at all, while the wearing metal and fuel bills were spiralling out of control and proportion. This may have been sustainable in a good year, but it wasn’t one to rely on as costs rose.” The quest had been underway to find a new cultivation system. “A number of demo machines had been tried and frequently went back broken. We’ve a number of small fields with tight corners, which made the previous drill –– a trailed Horsch Sprinter –– difficult to manoeuvre. A drill with too many press wheels isn’t suitable because the flints just tear them to shreds.”
In the end, the decision was taken to buy a 4m Claydon Hybrid drill, which arrived shortly after Andrew Day started on the estate in March 2011.