Diversifying into a niche contracting firm, one East Yorkshire operator has seen plenty of benefits in utilising Stocks Ag applicators.

When the ground around Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, gets wet, it stays wet. Or so says Tim Clappison, owner of TC Agriculture. This was part of the impetus for his investment in a Stocks Ag Fan Jet Duo applicator, which is mounted on a John Deere Gator.

“We can still move over the ground when larger equipment would be stood in the shed,” he explains. “This helps with the timeliness when we’re applying slug pellets.”

Mr Clappison is a first-generation farmer, with 200 acres in an arable rotation and a 2000-pig bed and breakfast enterprise. He said that he is always looking for opportunities to diversify the business, and six years ago was asked to drive a neighbour’s machine to apply herbicide.

“I could see the potential right away. A lot of farms in the area have the equipment to apply herbicide, slug pellets or small seeds, but it isn’t always possible; when the weather is against you, the ground is sticky, or staff are working elsewhere.” And so, the idea for TC Agriculture began.

He started out with a single disc applicator for broadcasting slug pellets, before upgrading to a second-hand Fan Jet Duo. In 2021, he traded this in for a new model, with 65-litre hoppers and the Twin Metering (TM) touchscreen controller, from Ripon Farm Services. It joined another Stocks Ag machine - a Turbo Jet with a 4m boom - which is used for small seeds and cover crop establishment.

Mounted on one of two Gator machines – one fitted with wheels, the other with tracks – the applicator is combined with Trimble RTK autosteering, and Mr Clappison has so far been impressed with the accuracy.

“It took a little bit of time to really trust the machine,” he said. “We used to put a little extra in the hopper to account for overlaps and to make sure we didn’t run out of product. Now, if the field needs 100kg, then we put 100kg in and we can operate with confidence even as the hoppers get close to empty.

“It gives us an edge over owner-operators using their own equipment because these chemicals are not cheap, and we can show that we’re saving them money all through the system, putting the slug pellets in the right place and protecting the ground with lighter machines.”

Mr Clappison says that both Stocks Ag and Ripon have been very helpful when it comes to getting the most out of the machine. “It’s great working with a company where you can pick up the phone and speak with someone. It gives you confidence in the product,” he said.

By keeping in contact with the dealer and the manufacturer, Mr Clappison explained that he is also learning about the possibilities for the machine. “We’ve never really used the section control functionality, because it’s so easy to adjust the sliders and change that working width to limit the overlap. Speaking with them, I’ll hopefully get a better understanding of how the different functions work.”

The Fan Jet Duo will stay with Mr Clappison for five years, during which time he hopes to cover between 5,000 and 6,000 acres a season. “2022 was an exception because it was so dry, and farmers could get their applications done themselves. In 2023, we surpassed what we spread the year before and with the high specification we can offer better value for money than a lot of farm-owned kit.”