Resale values and reliability are essential factors for Simon Williams at SW Hire when buying any piece of machinery and his aim is to supply customers with the right equipment for accurate spreading whilst complying with tighter application windows.
For spreaders, the busy time is usually after cereal harvest, but due to an increase in spring applications, the current fleet stands at 15 spreaders to cope with the workload peaks. A recent change in spreader brand has seen six Bunning spreaders arrive in the past three years – the first models were Lowlander 120 TVA (twin vertical auger) machines, and the latter spreaders are Lowlander 150 TVAs, to increase work rates.
“We bought our first Bunning machine in 2020 through our dealer Halse SW and when we’ve needed to replace one since, we’ve opted for a Bunning machine as they suit our business and offer us a better residual value after two years of use.”
The company was started by Mr Williams in 2008 and began offering manure spreaders for hire to local farmers from its base near Chippenham, Wiltshire. The business has grown organically since then to a heady total of over 500 machines. There are 100 tractors split between John Deere and JCB from 90-400hp; 90 telehandlers and loading shovels, predominately JCB; 10 excavators; and over 100 silage trailers, which are all Richard Western.
Residual value key to each machine
The replacement policy run by Mr Williams is two years for every piece of machinery in the company’s fleet. This allows him to extract maximum value from his purchase and hopefully maintain a good residual value to reinvest in new kit.
He says: “We had experimented with keeping the spreaders for four years as there was only a small difference in resale value between two and four years. However, when you factor in consumable items such as another set of tyres in those additional two seasons, it confirms the two-year policy is the right solution for us.
The spreaders are extremely well built, and the Bunning name is synonymous with making top-quality equipment. We look after our machines well and everything is serviced through our workshop when it comes back in from a hire, but the Bunning spreaders require very little maintenance.”
Mr Williams went on to say that replacements going forward will more than likely be Lowlander 150 models, as they offer a bigger capacity whilst still being manoeuvrable into small gateways and narrow lanes.
Although Mr Williams admits he intentionally buys simple Bunning TVA spreaders as it suits the hire market, he does add a rear canopy on all spreaders, which allows them to cope with a wider range of materials and helps to break down bulkier manures before spreading.
“We find that for the small additional cost of a rear canopy, the accuracy improvements for a wide range of products means it is a useful addition for our customers. I think it is especially handy for grassland as it prevents the larger lumps of straw content sitting on a field waiting for the weather to break it down. It is also easy to take on and off with a telehandler or loader tractor and return the spreader back to a standard rear discharge machine.”
The company needs machinery that is robust and will stand up to any operator. Pictures are taken before any machine leaves the yard, this way there is no grey area when it comes to damage or potential issues on return.
With the Bunning spreaders, I can assess the moving floor chain tension from photos as the chains are visible without needing to remove guards. This means I can walk down a row of Bunning spreaders and check they are all ready for hire, comments Mr Williams.
Value of manure
Part of the reason for running a large spreader fleet is the value of manure is increasing and farmers want to apply all types of manure with greater accuracy. The recent rule changes on manure spreading periods have also affected the hire market, as there is now a greater demand from farmers for machines in a shorter hire period, to comply with the legal spreading windows.
“Demand for manure spreading in the hire market has always been for a rear discharge TVA machine and we’ve never had users wanting a HBD (horizontal beater and spinning disc) model. These are specialist machines that require dedicated operators to get the best from them and that doesn’t suit the hire market” explains Mr Williams.
Manure spreading hirers either collect the machines from the Wiltshire depot or transport is arranged by the company. Spreaders have been delivered across the south west and as far east as Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, to every type of farm from small dairy units, up to large 6,000-acre estates.
Although the business has grown considerably since the early days of a single manure spreader, it is a valuable service to local and nationwide customers and the addition of Bunning spreaders has retained a greater value in the equipment helping to maximise the return on investment.