B & B Contractors is a business started 35 years ago in 1983 by Tim and Sharon Bloye based at Coxpark, near Callington to the north of Plymouth and close to the Devon/Cornwall border. Initially, the work mainly hedge-trimming and round baling – was done by Tim and a driver and the marketing of these services was down to word-of-mouth.
Now run by their sons Josh and Sam, B & B’s varied workload now stretches throughout the two counties, across a comprehensive range of tasks and with a number of ancillary services offered. The family also farms on its own account, typically rearing between 400 and 500 fat cattle.
The B & B brand also includes a machinery dealership (B & B Agricultural sales) and a recycling plant for plastic farm waste, the contracting side running a mixed 10 tractor fleet.
Servicing the requirements of a substantial customer base and across such a vast area is quite a task, so it’s not surprising that B & B employs 20 full-time staff, with a further 10 being brought in seasonally.
The machinery line-up is equally extensive and includes two self-propelled foragers, two forage wagons, two round balers, two square balers, seven trailers, four manure spreaders and a new Teagle machine for the recently-introduced straw grinding service.
Exceptional driver comfort
The decision was taken at B & B last year to add to the already 10-strong tractor fleet and on a strong recommendation of one of the drivers, Matthew Brendon, it was decided to have a look at the new 4th generation Valtra T214 Direct. A trial was arranged by Bruce Bellamy from the closest dealership, Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers Ltd. of Holsworthy, during which time a number of strong positives were identified.
“In the past we have purchased good quality ex-demonstration machines because it made more sense financially”, explains Sam Bloye. “We were impressed with the new SmartTouch models and were able to come to a deal we could justify.” So why go for a new model with the extra technology and latest operator interface? “We recognise that the tractors have a certain level of technology to ensure a high resale value”, Mr. Bloye explains. “And we are taking steps to upgrade our fleet, but we do hire in a lot of staff and some still prefer a more mechanical set up. It’s a balancing act between keeping the drivers happy and making decisions that will benefit the business overall.”
The T214 was purchased to do a fair amount of the firms heavy lifting, in summer it will take on the silaging duties on up to 10,000 acres covered, powering a Krone triple mower set up, forage wagon and a large square baler. Other primary duties include umbilical slurry application, and straw processing for feed as well as some cultivation tasks such as combination drilling and ploughing.
Key operator Matthew Brendon who has been with the company for six years and was part of the purchasing decision having driven previous ‘2’ and ‘3’ series Valtra machines had this to say about the new T214. “The first thing you notice about this 4th generation model is the driver comfort, which is exceptional”, Matthew states. “We’ve always had Valtras here, but the T214 is a step above.” Asked to highlight the most noticeable differences, he lists: “The higher road speed of 57 kmh plus the Evolution seat, and excellent suspension allows a very comfortable ride with a machine that is specified to run at high speed without drinking too much fuel.”
The new model also comes equipped with Valtra’s own Direct CVT transmission, the latest version of the type introduced on the ‘2’ series machines some years ago. Mr. Brendon has so far been impressed with the Direct transmission responding well to the hilly landscape of the South West. “Because it is split into four ranges, there is always the required power available – whether it’s tackling one of the steep hills around the farm or quickly accelerating up to full speed on the A30.”
SmartTouch completes the package
Other features that impressed include the new SmartTouch user interface with the 9” touch screen monitor and the integrated armrest controls, climate control and cab suspension.
“There’s more space in the cab”, he adds, “together with a really intuitive layout”. Special praise, however, is reserved for the SmartTouch technology. “It does everything we need and is so simple to use that you don’t really need instructions. It came very naturally. The controls are clearly laid out and I found that I could find all functions in the terminal I wanted without getting lost. Our dealer didn’t even run me through it initially: it was clear from offset and it was easy to set up field maps and farm profiles.”
Matthew added: “But we still have the reassurance of knowing that, if needed, our local dealer Snows – and Bruce in particular – are always available, in or out of hours.”
“We have always been impressed by the cost of running a Valtra machine, it’s the additional features and technology that really make this machine”, says Mr. Bloye “I feel like Valtra have finally made a real agricultural tractor,” concludes Mr. Brendon. “Previous models have had lots of advantages but there was always this hangover from its forestry background, especially with the layout of the controls made to be accessible also for reverse drive. The ‘4’ series meant they were halfway there but the SmartTouch has completed the package!”