On Saturday 15th of October we were on site with Mike and the team at Northdown Orchard, an existing customer who was kind enough to show us around the farm and let us snap some great photos at his site in exchange for a morning demonstrating our latest stone burier on his tractor.

About Northdown Orchard

The organic farm is a family run affair and sits on a site of 12 acres. Mike and his ever growing team produce salads, herbs and vegetables throughout the year in the farmed fields and polytunnels.

The farm creates seasonal fruit and vegetable boxes (or bags) and delivers supplies to the doors of local customers each week.

Web: www.northdownorchard.co.uk   Social: www.facebook.com/NorthdownOrchard

The Location

Northdown Orchard, HampshireRG25 3BP

Situated in South Litchfield in Hampshire, between Basingstoke and Andover. The farm is well positioned for supplying larger buyers in the area such as Abel and Cole and Riverford, supporting hard working organic growers.

Mike purchased the plot as a blank canvas and has built up the greenhouses, run water pipes for irrigation and even built his own home on the land. The setting is impressive with views from the front doorstep and the fields spanning for miles across the picturesque Hampshire landscape.

Read Mike’s Riverford story here.

The Tractor

  • Manufacturer: Ford
  • Model: 4600
  • Power: 52hp
  • Engine: 3.3L 3 cylinder
  • Production: 1975-1981

Daily Work

Autumn time the majority of crops have been harvested and the winter seeds are being sown with salads planted throughout the polytunnels. However, there are still leftover plants from the previous season scattered in the fields. In this instance the remains of the lettuce crops needed cutting and what better way to do this than with a flail mower! The hammer blades on the mower sliced the tops of the lettuce with ease and left the cuttings finely mulched ready for the ground to be cultivated for the next crop.

The next job was giving the new stone burier a run around the field. Large chunks of flint and chalk has been brought to the top of the soil after harvesting which aren’t helpful when re-planting the rows. The ground was also compacted and needed cultivating to create a lighter tilth for new crops to grow. Mike had been using a rotovator for this job over previous years which had churned up the soil nicely, but the larger debris still remained on the top of the soil.

Adjusting the roller to a slightly higher setting allowed the soil to be less compacted on each run. It took just a few test patches to get the roller to the height needed to make sure the soil was aerated sufficiently for the new plants to grow in.

Before and after photos

The attachment worked well on a number of surfaces; over the compacted soil, then through loosened soil, onto the mulched lettuce and finally the toughest challenge some long vegetation by the polytunnels. On all 4 of the tasks the stone burier sliced through and left a seedbed which could be used for planting. A great success!

Do you have a small or compact tractor and want to be a featured in our next on site blog? Contact Jasmine on 01420 520 510.