April to early November is typically the time that Paul Baker is kept busy cutting roadside verges throughout Durham and Northumberland, but this season he’s predicting an earlier start and possibly three cuts instead of the usual two.
Every year is different, of course, but he’s noticed a trend during the time that he’s developed the PBC contracting business, with winter road gritting dropping off and the grass-cutting season becoming extended.
“We operate from Ripon in North Yorkshire up to the Scottish border, and from the east coast across to the Cumbrian border, so a pretty big area,” he adds. “If you see anyone cutting grass on the side of the A1 north of Yorkshire there’s a fair change it will be PBC.”
Paul runs a fleet of John Deere 6280 140 hp tractors, and his latest addition on the implement side is Kuhn Farm Machinery’s new Spring Longer three-point mounted flail mower.
The machine was chosen for it robust and durable design and is proving to be the ideal tool for typically demanding conditions. He has the model with a 1.6 metre cutting head, which is more often than not the ideal size for roadside work.
The robust shredding unit on the Spring Longer comprises spoon flails that are attached by 14mm shackles to a 460mm rotor. This is driven at 2530rpm by four V-belts. Cutting height is adjustable through the position of a 169mm sensor roller.
Although contracting is Paul Baker’s priority, his family also farms 300 acres at Hall Farm, mainly arable but with some grass keep and equine interests.
“We’re definitely seeing milder winters and this is tending to mean the grass grows earlier in the spring,” he comments. “I think we could be as much as a month earlier with the roadside verge contracting this year as things stand, which could mean some areas will need an extra cut at some stage.”
Based at Hall Farm, Carlton on Tees, Paul runs a fleet of tractors and verge cutters, plus hedgecutters, and has a regular client base that includes the Highways Agency and a number of local authorities.