AS IF running a busy poultry farm wasn’t enough for father and son duo, William and Adam Pollock, of Easter Norton, Newbridge, they are also forging ahead with a contracting business they established around 10 years ago.

Adam is currently the sixth generation to be brought up on Easter Norton, but has always had a real passion for contracting. Between them, William and Adam run 22,000 laying hens producing on average 12,000 eggs a day, with help from two loyal full-time workers, Robert Stewart and Steven Hunter, who now largely look after the poultry farm. There are also two part-time staff members to cover the workload to let the Pollocks away to contend with their contracting duties.

“It is a very tying role, but we love the poultry side of things and would never give that up. It has been in the family for more than 50 years, but getting started up in contracting has been a dream for me,” pointed out Adam.

What started up as a bit of fun, when Adam got the odd job from a neighbour after purchasing a 125hp Case IH tractor in 2007, has now become a reality.

That piqued the interest of dad, William, who had always harboured a notion of doing a bit of contracting, but never took it any further. After some discussion, they both decided to ‘go for it’ and set up as a ‘real’ business in 2009.

Now Adam takes care of the book-keeping side of the contracting business, to keep everything ticking over, while William does his share of the poultry books!

The Scottish Farmer:

A work room with a view – cultivating down by the sea, with the sun failing behind

What are the main services involved in your business?

Adam said: “We are major on winter maintenance, cultivating and preparing ground for vegetables with specialist business, Drysdales – mainly Brussel sprouts – plus we also do silage and drilling.

“This is the first year contracting with Dalmhoy Estate and now where the majority of our contracting comes from. It is great to get a company being as local to us, we mainly do their cultivating, drilling and rolling for their feed stock for the cattle.

“Along with the main side of the business, we also do other bits and pieces, including a lot of work with the Royal Highland Show, mucking out and cleaning up after the show. We also deliver metal sculptures for a now famous blacksmith – most of his sculptures are metal cows and as well as at the Highland Show. We’ve been to Chelsea Flower Show, the last two years too, so that proves there really is nothing we say no to!”

What brand of machinery do you use?

“We have been brand loyal since day one. We always buy our tractors from Case IH, as they give us the high spec’ tractors we want and the service that comes with it. We are always looking for the best deals.

“Our dealership is with J Low Agri services, which are based in Fife. They provide an exceptional service and have never let us down.”

The Scottish Farmer:

Case IH Optum tractor

How often do you change your tractors?

“We tend to change the tractors every four years, but the last one we bought, we have kept for six years mainly because it was doing such a perfect job for us and was not losing any condition, so we decided to keep it that little bit longer.”

“Tractors on average here can easily do between 1200 and 1300 hours a year.”

What areas do you cover?

“Most of our work is with set contracts in the Lothians, and into the Borders now and again. We are lucky that most of our work is local and that helps to save the mileage that the machinery has to do. But we are always on the look out for new work.

“Most of our work has been through word of mouth – we tend not to advertise too much, as we get enough custom through people talking.”

The Scottish Farmer:

The gritter that is multi use and generally used on the back of the pickup

What keeps you busiest throughout the year?

“Along with our poultry farm – which is busy all year round – it would have to be getting the ground ready for the vegetables in East Lothian. This is a big contract for our business and we have to ensure we can go all out for them.”

“Along with this, the winter maintenance keeps us busy. We have two snow ploughs for the front of the tractors and a gritter which is on our pickup, which keeps us both involved when a bad winter hits. We haven’t had that for a number of years, but when it does come, we are constantly moving with our machinery.”

The Scottish Farmer:

The snow plough attached to the front of the tractor in full work

Favourite job among contracting?

“It has got to be power harrowing for sprouts, the ground is always in a good condition in May and the contract we have is the best land to work with. It is quite a tidy job. Dad, however, is more into his ploughing!”

What’s been your favourite tractor over the years … and your worst?

“Our newest one – the Optum 300 – has got to be my favourite. It is a comfy tractor compared to what we have, and an all-round great performing tractor and a joy to drive – it does everything we ask it to. We even have a second one coming this year!

The Scottish Farmer:

Carting compost for Forth Resource Management

What changes have you seen over the years?

“Outwith the price of the kit going up by so much, the main difference we have seen over the years is in different techniques for cultivating. Over our time in contracting, we have witnessed a variety of conditions and ways of doing things, which we now believe we have mastered.

“We have taken many gambles along the way, to get where we are now, but our skill set is definitely in cultivating and drilling. And it’s a constantly changing business.”

Best and worst bits about contracting?

“The best bit is getting out and about and meeting lots of farmers to service them with a great variety of different jobs and on top of all that we get to see the country side – even if it is through our window. We get to see some sights!

“Rising machinery costs have been a big issue over the years and that’s one of the worst bits. The tractors we work with are all highly spec’d, so are the top end money. We found that we had to increase our prices due to the increasing costs, but we do take on extra work to try and spread that out a bit for customers – clients tend not to bother about the extra costs if you work to a high standard, which is always our main objective.

“We would prefer to do less work at a higher quality, than to overrun ourselves and make mistakes.”

The Scottish Farmer:

The sights the team get to see on their jobs 

How does dramatic weather changes impact your business?

“It can be a big issue, but we will never risk it if the weather is too wet. We would prefer to stop as a precaution as we do not want to take the chance in anything if the weather is to change, so we are safeguarding ourselves and our customers.

“The beauty of our business is that we also have a poultry farm to run and so when we do not have any of our own arable jobs to do, we can prioritise our clients, which is unlike some contractors now a days.

Interests out with farming and contracting?

“We are very tractor proud – so any spare time that we do have is spent cleaning and tidying everything up, between the tractors and keeping the farm pristine too.

“When we are spending as many hours in the tractors as we are, it is good to have it clean and tidy!

“We are always getting wound up that we can’t be doing much work when they are as clean.”

The Scottish Farmer:

All painted in black and kept to the highly pristine policy

How are you becoming more efficient?

“We think we are currently quite efficient, but we are always looking to improve things. We are trying to improve our logistics and keeping our machinery up to date and well maintained. That is a crucial part of the business, so that we can get the most out of them as well as not burning out any unnecessary fuel.

“We don’t ask our tractors, for instance, to do too much – and it’s handy to have a little more than we need for some jobs as the extra horsepower actually helps us save on fuel. We’ve found that having a bit to spare on high horsepower tractors can save us between 10-15% on fuel, so not only is it a huge saving, it is a lot more efficient.

How are you future proofing your business?

“We have built up strong relationships with our clients. If we stay loyal to them, hopefully they will do the same back to us. And if we keep our customers happy, they will be happy to use us.

“We are always open to new jobs and anything different. And we’ve found it pays to not go in with our own ideas … we want to listen to what our customers want and, generally speaking, we are good at doing what we are told!

The Scottish Farmer:

Preparing the ground by power harrowing the soil for vegetables

Have you had many problems with clients?

“Any problems we have had, we have managed to resolve. We try and satisfy our customers and try not to rely too heavily on one client for our income, we like to spread it around, and keep everyone happy.

Do you have any concerns about the industry?

“No, not at all. I believe we have built up strong client base, that the direction they are all working in is positive, and we can all move in the right direction together.


Case IH Optum 300.

Case IH Puma 230 (soon to be another Optum 300) both on LGP tyres, and on full RTK steering. One tractor is ballasted up for extra grip, the other will run light with 900 tyres on for on top cultivation work like drilling and rolling.

Kverneland EO85 six-furrow plough.

Kuhn 5004 power harrow.

Broughan 18-tonne grain trailer, with silage sides on LGP tyres.

Two hydraulic folding snow ploughs for front of tractors.

SnowEx pickup mounted gritter.

The Scottish Farmer:

The sun falls as seeding comes to an end for the day for the Case Optum and seed drill