George Basey-Fisher says Massey Ferguson has kept all the features that he liked so much about previous Welger balers and improved on them.

Since the 1970s, Massey Ferguson products have dominated the machinery fleet of Norfolk-based farmers RR Basey-Fisher & Son.

However, this is the first year that a Massey Ferguson round baler has been used, following a succession of Welgers.

The family farming business operates from two sites, at Carleton St Peter and Langley, near Norwich, and is run by George Basey-Fisher with his parents Richard and Enid, and his son William. Approximately 400ha is owned of which most is arable cropping including 15ha of marshland, with a further 105ha of the marsh used for grass. Until five years ago there was a dairy, but this was replaced by a 380-head beef fattening enterprise. Calves are locally sourced and breeds include Friesian Holstein, Limousin, Angus and Belgian Blue crosses. The Friesians are field-grazed but other breeds are indoor-reared and fed on grass and maize forage with home-rolled wheat and barley.

Apart from a few conventional small bales for young calves, all the grass silage and straw is round baled. For the farm’s own use, approximately 3,000 straw bales are made each year including wheat, barley and oilseed rape, plus 350–400 bales of silage. The farm also provides a silage and straw baling contracting service for neighbouring farms. Variable chamber balers are operated, as the Basey-Fishers use 4ft diameter bales for their own farm finding them easier to move by hand in the yard, whereas 5ft are preferred by several contract customers.

Trusted brands

The farm’s balers are updated every four to five years and, since the first round baler arrived in the early 1980s, the brand selected has nearly always been Welger. “We like Welger balers as they make good, uniform bales. They are easy to use and maintain, and in our experience they are extremely reliable,” explained partner George Basey-Fisher. “We have always looked at other options when upgrading, but Welgers were reasonably priced and we had no reason to change brands. Even those which were more expensive didn’t appear to offer advantages.”

Out of seven tractors owned, five are Massey Ferguson. A nearly new Massey Ferguson Beta 7360 PL combine has been purchased for this harvest, and other recent purchases include an RK 662 twin-rotor rake. “We are surrounded by good dealers for all the major brands, but we get on especially well with our local Massey Ferguson dealer Thurlow Nunn Standen,” continued George. “We have always depended on Massey Ferguson combines and we find the tractors reliable and easy to use so, when we are looking for new machinery, it’s the first name we consider.”

Proven design

AGCO announced its acquisition of the Lely Welger forage machinery division in 2017, and products were displayed in Massey Ferguson colours for the first time in the UK the following year, where they immediately proved popular. Thurlow Nunn Standen Product Support & Sales Specialist Ben Hockley looks after the Basey-Fisher’s account and he commented, “It’s great having an already established baler manufacturer brought into the Massey Ferguson portfolio. Welger’s proven track record with users across the country has enabled us to further develop our relationships with customers and bring benefits to their farming operations. Since Agco’s acquisition, we have already seen improvements to the balers’ designs, and with continued investment in research and development we believe the brand has an exciting future.”

“Our five-year-old Welger RP45 baler was due for updating this year, so last harvest we started looking at options,” explained George. “The Massey Ferguson RB 4160V variable-chamber model appeared the obvious choice as it had the Welger heritage we trusted plus back-up from Thurlow Nunn Standen and Massey Ferguson. However, choosing the best baler for our situation is important to us, so we looked at what else was available and had demonstrations of two alternative machines.”

George said that all three balers worked well and, although both of the other balers were considerably more expensive than the Massey Ferguson, there was nothing to separate them in terms of bale quality or work rate. He also consulted several local farmers already using similar Massey Ferguson models who all recommended the machines, so he placed his order for the new baler which arrived in time for first cut grass silage and hay baling.

Welger performance retained

“Massey Ferguson has kept all the features we liked so much about the previous Welger balers and improved on them,” added George, “and our new baler has several useful upgrades over our previous model including adjustment of most baler settings using the in-cab control box, rather than having to stop and get out each time. The new baler is also Isobus-compatible so we could operate it direct from the controls of our Massey Ferguson 7720 tractor, but as we also use the baler behind a smaller tractor occasionally which doesn’t have Isobus, we find it easier to transfer the control box from cab to cab. “The wider tyres are also an advantage, especially on our marsh land where ground conditions are usually soft and wet. Maintenance is easier with central lubrication, and a one-piece side cover provides great access for checking and cleaning.”

Attractive package

A three-year warranty, and finance options which suit the farm were also considered advantages of the Massey Ferguson brand. “Compared to other manufacturers we have always found Massey Ferguson straightforward. Products come with what you expect and there are no hidden extras, and parts and repairs are reasonably priced. Previous balers have been updated every four to five years, but we will try to keep this one slightly longer, although we still expect it to hold its value well. “I’ve always liked Welger balers, but I’m even happier now that they are part of the Massey Ferguson range with the back-up of my local dealer,” confirmed George.

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