East Anglia represents a fair-sized chunk of the country, but Norfolk-based agricultural contractor Steve Suggitt covers a substantial proportion of it from his base at Great Ellingham, near Attleborough.
“From the M11 to the north Norfolk coast,” is the approximation he uses. Set up in 2001, Suggitt Farm Services covers a wide spectrum of work, with the primary tasks carried out now including muck-spreading, straw baling and forage harvesting. The business did include an anaerobic digester plant, established in 2012, which was sold two years ago.
Since the Spring of 2018, however, the power and traction required to carry out much of the company's workload has been provided by a Massey Ferguson 8732 S. The impact of this tractor on both the business and the operators was so significant that earlier this year it was decided to further boost the line-up with the addition of a range-topping 8740 S model.
Steve explains how these acquisitions came about: “We hadn't been looking for a new tractor particularly, but Jolly Bullen, who does the sales job at TNS (Thurlow Nunn Standen) locally, turned up one day with an 8732 demonstrator and left it here. I thought to myself 'he must be confident' so gave it a try and fell in love with it straightaway!
“It has literally transformed the job,” he continues. “One area where it really stands out is when we're working on high silage clamps – the sheer power, together with a brilliant transmission, have made an unbelievable difference.
“In fact, one of our operators had made it clear that he thought this element of his job was so challenging using our previous tractors that he had started to consider leaving. Once he'd tried the 8732, he changed his mind straight away, saying 'do not sell this tractor!'”
“Working on big silage clamps is a job that you can start at six in the morning and go right through to one o' clock the following day, which used to be exhausting, but with these big Masseys it's a breeze.
“The front linkage is so strong, and with the power and transmission working in complete harmony, the job has changed completely. The lift is high and effortless, which means you're not dragging the clamp face down, as often happened.
“There's nothing about them that's not to like. They're not heavy tractors, even though they might look like they are, and they're a dream to drive and terrific for road work. The settings on the transmission are nothing short of brilliant,” states Steve.
The latest MF 8700 S range has been attracting new fans up and down the country, as more and more users realise the true benefits if its power-to-weight ratio, combined with noticeable fuel economy. The MF 8740 combines 400hp with a class-dominating power-to-weight ratio of just 26.7kg per hp.
The fuel economy that this ratio delivers has certainly been noticed by Steve. “We can now do three full days on the clamp on a tankful, which was out of the question before,” he says.
Steve has himself discovered the ease with which ballast can be added to the front linkage and wheels when working in tandem with a tri-axle Joskin tanker spreading digestate. At a minimum weight of just 10.8 tonnes, the 8700 Series are as much 4 tonnes lighter than other machines in its class, with a maximum permitted load of 18 tonnes having been achieved by MF's design engineers.
Timely servicing of machines is an important aspect of ownership and Steve is pleased at the way TNS at nearby Attleborough has handled this. “We've found that the extended warranty option most suits our needs,” he states. “As contractors, we need to cover our costs and this way we know what our costs are going to be. I can't fault TNS – they've done everything we've asked.”