Lamma 2012 preview

Lamma 2012: Drilling into the market

Suffolk-based manufacturer Claydon’s motto is ‘Built for farmers by farmers’ and draws upon its farming experience to manufacture direct-drills, which it has now been doing for more than 10 years.

Claydon made its name when arable farmer Jeff Claydon invented the Yield-o-Meter, which sold more than 1,000 units. It fitted onto the elevator head inside a combine grain tank and measure crop yield while harvesting.

It also featured a spot data function to let operators know where high and low yielding points are in a field.

It appeared on many combines, especially Claas, which fitted the devices up to 1995 before manufacturers started to fit their own monitors.

Being a farmer, most of Mr Claydon’s inventions, such as the Yield-o-Meter were born out of necessity, which he says also gives him the advantage of knowing what farmers want.

Mr Claydon had originally wanted to go to university, but pressures of the farm kept him at home. He studied engineering at college with the idea of forming his own company.

When coming up with the Yield-o-Meter he faced many challenges. “Getting a patent is particularly difficult and expensive,” he says.

Obstacles

The hardest part was funding. Initially, he was in partnership with another company, but this fell through.

Undeterred, Mr Claydon forged ahead, overcoming other obstacles, such as working out the electronics. His big breakthrough came when he convinced Claas to fit the device to its combines.

Many years later, and with its own good name, Claydon continue to produce products born out of an on-farm need.

The development of its range of direct drills follows Mr Claydon questioning the use of sprays and technology, and whether they really are benefiting farmers.

I believe we are only experiencing the tip of the iceberg with direct drilling

Jeff Claydon

This led to the production of the V-drill, and now the Hybrid drill, designed to sub-soil with a leading ripper tine, which prevents the seed from becoming waterlogged by creating a drainage channel and shattering soil. This allows the plant to grow strong deep roots for a high yielding crop, he says.

“I believe we are only experiencing the tip of the iceberg with direct drilling. There is so much more to come as technology develops,” says Mr Claydon

“We always listen to the customer when developing a drill. They are our driving force. But, we can’t please everyone, so we have to go with the general consensus.”

Service

That philosophy is serving Claydon well with more than 200 drills sold in the UK to date. He says the key to the success is a quality product and service, and a machine which does what it says it will do.

The recession, he says, has had a positive effect on his company. “Farmers know by purchasing our product they can save on input costs.”

Claydon products are not widely known abroad due to the manufacturer concentrating on building its reputation at home. It hopes to rectify this by getting its products to various European shows, including Agritechnica, to hopefully find a partner to sell and support its machines.

Its market leading Hybrid direct drill is the most popular in the UK at present. “Ten years worth of experience has gone into developing and tweaking the ultimate direct drill,” he says.

Mr Claydon reckons the best marketing tool is the product itself, which he likes to show at various events.

Shows

“It’s very important for us to have a presence at shows, and Lamma has been particularly good to us,” he says.

“We showed the first model of our V-Drill in 2003, which drummed up a lot of business and went on to sell 10 units in its first year.”

In terms of the competition, he adds: “It’s not too bad, mainly because their products are quite different from ours.”

He believes being British built still counts for something and countries still respect British design, which is why the firm happily uses the Union Jack on all of its promotional material.

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