Watercress farmers from the award-winning Watercress Company in Hampshire carrying out seasonal ground clearing and preparation works hired an 8 Ton Doosan excavator from Hampshire Plant & Access (HPA).
Before watercress crops are established, the farmers need to clean-out the beds from the last crop. The gravel in the bottom of the beds is then prepared by sweeping clean and raking the base smooth. The bottom of the beds are then filled with gravel, to provide an anchor for the watercress plant roots. Harvesting is mechanised and the cleaning out is usually done with a tractor. The project involved hiring an 8 Ton Doosan excavator from HPA.
The HPA machines have become an essential part of the seasonal turnaround process on certain sites each year where the farmers are unable to get access for their tractors into the beds. In the UK, the Watercress Company has farms throughout Dorset and Hampshire, which vary in size from just over an acre to as much as 15 acres. Most of the Hampshire farm sites have firm beds, but the Maxwell Farm site in Hampshire has 23 small beds on its 7 acre site and they are so soft that the farmers struggle to get their tractors onto the beds.
Sean Ede – Hampshire Watercress Manager said:
“We use a bomag roller to crush up the stubbles and lift them off the base of the beds and push the stubble to the end of the bed where we then use a HPA Doosan Excavator to remove them for composting before the gravel is cleaned and reused the next year. We need to get the beds out as soon as possible, so we worked with HPA to specify a suitable excavator (Doosan DX80R) to remove them and then recycle the gravel on every site.”
“The Hampshire site was cleaned out in April. When the beds aren’t right for our tractors, we’ll use telehandlers and rollers from HPA to go in and scrape the bases of the beds as they need to be as level as possible because of the waterflow. Our biggest challenge is always the weather. When we have had a wet winter, the water table is up, and we get a lot of natural springs coming up on the cress beds which we don’t want.”
The Watercress Company has an excellent longstanding relationship with HPA built up over the past 15 years. It’s a testament to the outstanding customer service that they have received over many watercress seasons and the quick lead-times they get from HPA when hiring machines suitable for the seasonal timings and the conditions on their farms. The speed of this turnaround process is critical, so The Watercress Company specifically requested an 8 Ton excavator again. Throughout the seasons they will also hire telehandlers of varying sizes and BW120 rollers from HPA.