Oliver Arnold

SPRING FARM, Spring farm partnership, NORFOLK

A FOCUS on treating staff well and doing a good job safely drives Norfolk contractor Oliver Arnold.

His business, run with wife Hannah, started on the back of a beef finishing business. Cattle performed well, he got into providing on-farm mill and mix services, then started doing baling for other people too.

He bought Terragators when they were fairly new to the market, aiming to encourage farmers to treat manure as fertiliser. This eventually meant equipping Terragators with GPS so growers could use the data for their NVZ records, and he also pioneered the use of strip till behind them.

He says: “We are on light land, so preventing soil blow and moisture retention are key things.”

The contracting business went well, but when price competition increased, they made the decision to go into biogas and now run two plants, one owned and the other on a 10-year contract. The long contract gives stability to invest in kit for supplying feedstock.

Outside of farming, the Arnolds also run a crane hire business, and it is clear some of the requirements from that business have been introduced to the contracting operation, particularly on vehicle and operator safety.

Contracting staff, of which there are 30 full-time, are given worksheets each day including space for daily vehicle checks, defect notification, weather, field conditions and any overhead powerlines or hazards

in the fields they are working in.

‘Toolbox talks’ about any new jobs or hazards are a regular feature in the contracting business. Before baling season starts, for instance, staff walk round a baler and will talk about what might happen and safe practice when they are working.

A full-time fitter is employed, and as part of the commitment to safety, trailers are inspected every month and the inspection date written on the chassis in permanent pen.

Some might be tempted to think it is all part of a paper exercise, but this is not the case, Oliver says.

“I do not like tick boxes. My job is ensuring everything is safely done. My passion is for doing a good job and being a sustainable business.”