Farm cuts costs by 'recycling' its worn-out machines

Farm manager Paul Wortley, right, with the team who have recycled a potato harvester into a parsnip

Farm manager Paul Wortley, right, with the team who have recycled a potato harvester into a parsnip harvester at their farm in Methwold. From left, Ronald Jenkinson, farm assistant; Joey Anderson, apprentice; Kevin Barber, workshop manager; and Brad Burge, machine operator - Credit: Denise Bradley

A Norfolk farm is rebuilding and recycling its old machinery to save money in a difficult financial climate.

With cost pressures rising and subsidies being phased out, farms are seeking innovative ways to make savings.

OW Wortley and Sons, based at Methwold, near Thetford, farms 4,500 arable acres including 1,000 acres of potatoes and 300 acres of parsnips.

Rather than buy new equipment, the farm has been refurbishing worn-out potato and parsnip machinery.

Farm manager Paul Wortley, front centre, with the team who have recycled a potato harvester into a p

Farm manager Paul Wortley, front centre, with the team who have recycled a potato harvester into a parsnip harvester at their farm in Methwold. From front left, Ronald Jenkinson, farm assistant; and Brad Burge, machine operator. From back left, Kevin Barber, workshop manager, and Joey Anderson, apprentice - Credit: Denise Bradley

The most recent project has just been completed to rebuild an old potato harvester into a specialised parsnip harvester.

Farmer Andy Wortley said the strategy brought "considerable" cost savings and made more efficient use of the farm's own labour during quieter winter months.

"The boys have done a great job and this machine could now be good for another 20 years," he said.

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"From a recycling point of view, I have got a machine that has already given 20-25 years of good service and we are taking it apart and it is coming back like a new machine again.

"The last potato harvester we bought two years ago cost £135,000 and a destoner is about £65,000. And even with new machinery you are putting new parts on them.

"So this is good productive work during the quieter winter months, which is also saving us a considerable amount of money.

"We will probably have two full-time people on it. They will have to go and harvest stuff every now and again, but then they can come back to working on the machines.

"We even make a lot of the parts ourselves. You need the skills to do these machines up - these are not highly-trained technicians, but they can weld and profile-cut.

The sign on a recycled destoner at the OW Wortley farm in Methwold

The sign on a recycled destoner at the OW Wortley farm in Methwold - Credit: Denise BRadley

"It is at least 50pc cheaper than buying a new machine. I reckon we spent just £10-15,000 to rebuild the destoner and that includes the cost of the labour.

"I am not in business for the privilege of buying new machinery, I want to make some money as well, so if I spend all my money on machinery there is nothing left for profit. It seems like some people are farming just to buy new machines."

Parsnips harvested at the OW Wortley farm in Methwold

Parsnips harvested at the OW Wortley farm in Methwold - Credit: Denise Bradley


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