Claydon Yield-o-Meter Limited, a well-known name in the UK agricultural machinery manufacturing sector, will celebrate 40 years in business in July 2021. Despite the challenges of the past year this progressive Suffolk-based and still family-owned manufacturer of crop establishment machinery has gone from strength to strength. Employing over 50 staff, it now exports 60% of production to 35 countries, across Europe to New Zealand and Chile, and is set to achieve record sales in 2021.
The company was formed in 1981 by Jeff Claydon to manufacture the Claydon Yield-o-Meter, the first-ever on-combine grain monitoring device which he had invented the previous year. Now the company’s CEO, Jeff has farmed at Wickhambrook near Newmarket with his brother Frank since 1970, the third generation to do so under the E.T. Claydon & Sons partnership.
A revolutionary product for its time, the Claydon Yield-o-Meter provided farmers with an accurate reading of how many tonnes of crop were harvested that minute, hour, day, month, and year on a display in the combine cab. This provided much more immediate and relevant yield information, enabling owners to analyse data they previously had to guess and helping them to determine the best-performing crops, varieties, and management strategies much more easily than using the traditional weighbridge method.
Farmers immediately saw the importance of this information and over the next few years the Yield-o-Meter, which cost less than £2000 at launch, was fitted to hundreds of combines throughout the UK and Europe, mostly larger models in the CLAAS range. Such was the product’s success that it won a Royal Agricultural Society of England Silver Medal in 1995.
The same year, Claydon introduced the Furrow Cracker to the UK market. Fitted to a plough, it was equipped with blades spaced 2″ apart which sliced through freshly turned furrows at up to 6″ deep, helping the weather to break the soil down naturally. The Furrow Cracker became a major product for the company, with hundreds sold throughout the UK.
Claydon continued to develop its product range and in 2003 introduced the V-Drill, its first direct strip tillage drill. This was invented out of necessity at a time when grain prices had dropped to exceptionally low levels, but the costs of inputs and ploughing on the family’s arable farm were ever-increasing, so it was becoming financially unviable. The V-drill dramatically reduced the cost and time taken to establish crops, while its unique leading tine followed by the A-share design, for which Claydon has become famous, alleviated compaction. This allowed roots to develop their full potential and crops to produce high yields not previously seen with direct sowing systems, and higher than those from ploughing.
The Claydon SR (Stone Release) drill introduced in 2006 featured spring-type instead of shear-bolt stone protection together with much greater inter-row spacing and was available in 3m, 3.45m and 4m widths. The next phase came in 2009 when the company launched the Claydon Hybrid. Incorporating Claydon’s leading tine technology, the drill has become the cornerstone of the Claydon Opti-Till® System, a holistic approach to crop establishment which delivers consistent, high yielding crops at low cost for maximum profitability in addition to environmental benefits and soil health improvements.
To complement its expanding range, in 2013 Claydon launched the Straw Harrow, a fast, low-cost method of creating a fine shallow tilth which encourages volunteers/weeds to chit quickly after harvest and enables them to be controlled mechanically prior to establishing the following crop, reducing reliance on glyphosate. The Straw Harrow also helps to spread crop residues evenly and minimise alopecic patches in the following crop, as well as reducing slug populations and destroying their eggs.
Claydon’s product range continued to develop with the introduction of the Hybrid T drill, a trailed version of the existing linkage-mounted Hybrid seed/fertiliser unit, in 2014. Two years later, the company launched its 6m TerraStar®, a fast, low-cost light rotary cultivator which is often used in conjunction with the Straw Harrow, and in
2018 introduced the TerraBlade Inter-Row Hoe, a low cost, mechanical method of controlling weeds in band-sown crops.
All Claydon machinery is developed on a working farm, by farmers, for farmers, then thoroughly tried and tested under real farming conditions in a real farm environment before being brought to market. The Claydon farm has not been ploughed since 2002 and Frank Claydon establishes around 400 hectares in an autumn drilling season with a single 6m Claydon Drill and a single tractor, then goes on to drill another 1250 hectares on contract.
A progressive, forward-thinking company, Claydon has always manufactured its products to an exceptionally high standard. Even though it is now 18 years since the V-drill was first launched and 15 years since the SR made its first appearance, Claydon do not know of any which have been scrapped. Due to their simplicity, solid build quality and easy, low-cost maintenance, all Claydon drills are still in service. Their ability to keep on doing the job for which they were built, and minimal wearing parts requirement, ensure strong residual values.
Farmers throughout the world are achieving excellent results using Claydon Opti-Till® products on all types of soil, in different climatic conditions and for all crops that can be air sown. Even on heavy clay soils the amount of fuel used is about 10% of that required for a plough-based system, so Opti-Till® is used not just by arable producers but increasingly those in the dairy sector to establish crops like grass, maize, and stubble turnips in the most efficient way. Claydon has always emphasised the importance of soil health and raised awareness of how to improve it, so with talk of reducing CO2 to much lower levels and increasing carbon capture the company is well placed to respond to these requirements.
To celebrate this milestone 40th anniversary, Claydon are holding a prize draw with the winner receiving one year’s free access to Omnia Precision, a precision farming system provided by Hutchinsons crop production specialists which analyses information from a variety of sources, enabling informed decisions to be made across a full range of variable applications.
For details on how to enter the draw, eligibility, and information on the Omnia Precision prize, visit www.claydondrill.com/news/claydon-40/