Are you a first time smallholder? If you’ve recently bought a property with some land or have decided that it’s time to reclaim an area of your grounds for a smallholding, there are some basic bits of kit that will make your life much easier.
Of course what you need will depend on the size of your plot; but if you have space for growing your own food, raising some livestock and perhaps growing and harvesting fuel, you can spare yourself a lot of back breaking work by buying some basic farm machinery.
First off, you’ll need a compact tractor to hitch your machinery to. Without a doubt this will become the main workhorse on your smallholding, lightening the load all year round. Even on a relatively small plot, a compact or sub-compact tractor will quickly become invaluable.
If you want advice on choosing a tractor, read this blog where we share the key considerations you need to think about before making a purchase.
Having got yourself a vehicle with a PTO hitch, what farm machinery will provide you with the best return on investment?
Let’s look at those seasonal jobs that need to be kept on top of throughout the year:
Autumn and Winter – Bio Shredder
At this time of year, and especially if you have just started to reclaim some land for your smallholding, it’s all about clearing, tidying and shredding!
I would recommend that you invest in a bio shredder to help keep on top of the endless prunings, cuttings and trimmings from hedgerow and tree maintenance. This material is generally not suitable for firewood, being too thin and green, nor is it easy to compost as it’s fibrous. However once shredded it is an ideal addition to the compost; balancing the grass cuttings, weeds and leafy plant material that makes up most of our compost heaps.
Spring – Rotovator
Every year we wait patiently for the perfect conditions to get the ground ready for sowing and planting. It often feels like there’s a very small window of opportunity between the end of the cold and wet period, when the ground is either too hard or too soggy, and the start of the growing season.
When you do get the chance to start work, your garden fork is going to need to work at a very rapid pace to get the soil ready if you want a bumper harvest later in the year. So my essential piece of kit for the spring is my trusty rotovator. It makes short work of what is big job if you’ve got a reasonable sized veg plot, allotment or field.
Summer – Mower
This time of year is very busy for the smallholder. By now you may have some chicken, sheep or pigs to care for. You’ll also be thinning, weeding and harvesting your crops; and in the kitchen you’ll be processing gluts of fruit and vegetables to make sure nothing goes to waste.
And then there’s the mowing to be done! Grass loves the warmer months and needs regular mowing to keep it in check. Even if you have livestock grazing some areas, you need to ensure other patches don’t become overrun with brambles, nettles and scrub.
For this I recommend you invest in a mower attachment for your tractor. It then becomes an easy job, even enjoyable, to spend a little time going up and down your fields, or cutting verges and banks.
With this basic start up kit your smallholding will be off to a great start, and you’ll have the energy to keep at it! Over time you may find that other tractor attachments become part of your essential farm machinery such as log splitters if you want firewood, hole borers for fencing, and a trailer for transporting things around your land.
However, to start with I don’t think you can wrong without a bio shredder, rotovator and mower.
We have an open day coming up this month where you can view our new range of Agrint Italian tractor attachments (including these essential bits of kit). Our open days are a great opportunity to chat about your requirements and explore your options. So even if you’re not ready to buy, come along to get advice and see what’s available. Details can be found here.