How share farming works for Simon near Helmsley

Straw is a vital resource for many Yorkshire livestock farmers particularly those, like Simon Smith of Boon Woods Farm of Nawton, Helmsley. Simon has pigs on bed and breakfast contracts with Suffolk-based BQP (British Quality Pigs) and needs the quality and quantity of his straw to be the best available at all times.

Simon Smith based at Boon Woods Farm at Nawton near Helmsley distributor of the Abimac Rake he imports from Italy. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Simon ran an agricultural contracting business prior to downscaling and turning towards pigs. He now farms in a share farming arrangement with two neighbours and has also built up a baling business that currently sees him bale upwards of 4,000 square bales a year.

Recently he has been searching for a way of making bales quicker without having to wait for a rake and separate tractor to do its work and as a result has reduced the cost of having extra machinery and an operator in the field.

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When YAMS (Yorkshire Agricultural Machinery Show) makes its now annual and fifth appearance on Wednesday, February 7 at York Auction Centre, Murton one of this year’s new trade stands will see Simon turn from tyre kicker to man whose tyres are to be kicked. He’s importing Italian manufactured front-of-tractor mounted Abimac rakes under the name Abimac UK.

“We need so much straw every year and I was just finding it a bit ridiculous that we had one tractor going in to a field with a rake behind and another with the baler. The front rake idea also came to me because the straw swath was regularly getting wet. I thought there must be something that could go on the front and found the company Abimac on the internet. I went out to their factory just south of Turin, talked with those who work there, saw farmers who were using Abimac’s specialist front mounted rakes and was convinced they could do a job not just for me but to help other farmers save on time and cost.

“You can produce bales far more quickly. You put it on the front of the tractor and as you’re going forward the rotors sweep in, the straw goes under the tractor into the baler and the bale is produced. So now instead of a rake being on a separate tractor with another man and tractor involved I’ve done away with a machine and the man can then be put to either stacking or leading bales or turning more straw.

“There is no change to the amount of time it takes to create the bale, although this can depend on the experience of the operator. What it offers is the opportunity to get the baling done more rapidly and at times when the weather is closing in that’s another major advantage.”

Simon imported two Abimac rakes earlier this year and has used one throughout the summer. The other has been out on demo with various farmers and contractors and has just been purchased by one of the contractors.

Simon sees YAMS as the ideal base from which to launch his new business, Abimac UK. “I’ve been to YAMS since it started and it is great for us. We don’t have to travel far and it gives us the chance to show thousands of farmers what it is like. It is definitely a piece of kit that will save time, staff and equipment.”